Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Pattern

A year or so ago, I posted the Kelley’s Killer as presented in the Carrie Stevens book, “Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies,” 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard. I tied three of them according to the recipe presented in their fine book. As it turns out there is another version of the Kelley’s Killer, tied by none other than the “First Lady of Rangeley Streamers” herself (my own play on words), Mrs. Carrie G. Stevens. My friend Jim Kennedy, bought an original Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie Stevens, last year at the Somerset, New Jersey, Fly Fishing Show. This fly is an eye-opener. It is a “full-dress” version of her streamer tying, identical to the famous Gray Ghost in every single component. Tag, ribbing, body, hackle, wing shoulders, and here is where it gets interesting: Peacock herl underbelly, golden pheasant crest underwing, plus a golden pheasant crest to finish off the throat. Like I said, it is identical in each single part, to the last detail, as her Gray Ghost. The only things different are the materials and the colors. Here you go:

Kelley's Killer, original streamer tied by Carrie G. Stevens.

Kelley’s Killer, original streamer tied by Carrie G. Stevens. Note also the wing, not silver badger as listed in the Hilyard book, but golden  badger over lavender. Also the additional differences: Golden pheasant crest underwing, peacock herl underbelly, golden pheasant crest on the throat.

This makes me wonder. I know the Hilyards did extensive research and had very high standards on the process to certify “original” patterns by Carrie Stevens. Did she later add the extra components to this fly to schmaltz it up? One thing is sure, I like this one better than the one presented in the Hilyard book. Nothing against them at all, I love their book! But seeing an original, as opposed to a replicated pattern tied by someone other than the originator of the pattern; even if well-researched; well, I’m putting my money on this version that I see with my eyes as the “official” Carrie Stevens Kelley’s Killer. It could be as Chris Del Plato suggested, a variation of the pattern. But what a variation it is. More pics:

Kelley'dsd Killer, this is aan original streamer dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. Fly courtesy of Jim Kennedy.

Kelley’s Killer, this is an original streamer dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. Fly courtesy of Jim Kennedy.

Head, shoulder, and card macro, Kelley's Killer tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Head, shoulder, and card macro, a size #2 Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Kelley's Killer - dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. From the collection of Jim Kennedy. Hook size #2.

Kelley’s Killer – dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. From the collection of Jim Kennedy. Hook size #2.

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Recipe:

Body: Flat silver tinsel; * differs from Hilyard version of orange floss w/silver tinsel ribbing

Underbelly: 4 – 6 strands peacock herl; * additional from Hilyard version, followed by white bucktail

Throat: Lavender fibers, followed by a golden pheasant crest feather curving upward; * both components differ from Hilyard version

Underwing: Golden pheasant crest as long as the wing, curving downward; * additional from Hilyard version

Wing: Two lavender hackles with one slightly shorter golden badger hackle on each side; * golden badger differs from silver badger on Hilyard version

Shoulder: Tan-tipped Amherst pheasant feather

Cheek: Jungle cock

Head: Black with orange band

In all, this Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie Stevens has six different components compared to the Hilyard pattern.

Last but not least, my humble version of the Kelley’s Killer, pattern recipe from the Hilyard book:

Kelley's Killer - Carrie Stevens pattern, dressed and photographed by Don Bastian.

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens pattern, dressed and photographed by Don Bastian. From a couple years ago; this was before I learned that the hackle, underbelly, underwing should all be the same length as the wing when dressing Carrie Stevens patterns according to her design specifications. “Ya’ don’t just tie the fly any old way and assume it is a correctly-dressed Carrie Stevens pattern.” – I said that.

And a threesome of Kelley’s Killers, all dressed by me: Better things to come in the new, expanded, and I’ll make certain, properly dressed to Mrs. Stevens’s Rangeley Streamer specs Kelley’s Killer soon to be tied:

Three Kelley's Killers, a Carrie Stevens original pattern,  tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Three Kelley’s Killers, a Carrie Stevens original pattern, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. They all need longer bucktail underbellies.

And the head and shoulder macro:

Kelley's Killer - head, shoulders, and cheek. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Kelley’s Killer – head, shoulders, and cheek. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Jim did give me permission  to “fix” the fly. The wings were crooked. So I did. Before the pics. I told him that steaming the fly would restore it. Indeed. He said when he got it back it looked better than when he bought it. How cool was it for me to hand-hold a Carrie Stevens original? Very! Thank you Jim!

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Guess Who Came to the Show?

This is pretty cool. On Saturday November 22nd, at the 24th Annual International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset, New Jersey, a man came to my table. He was intently eyeing my flies, moving back and forth, from one end of the table to the other. Finally the customer I was speaking to departed, so I devoted my time to this fellow. He was a fine looking man, and well dressed, casual. I’ll move ahead in this story for a moment, but after he left my table, my girlfriend, Mary, said, “That guy looks so familiar. I think he’s a newscaster.” Well…

The thing that was fascinating and interesting, was our conversation, which was driven by the questions he asked. This man knew full well, about Carrie Stevens, about Rangeley streamers, about the 19th-century B-Pond wet fly, and even Lucius A. Derby, for whom Carrie Stevens created a memorial streamer pattern in 1942, based on the B-Pond wet fly.

Our conversation covered details about the Masonic Lodge in Lowell, Massachusetts, named after Lucius A. Derby. According to the book, “Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Style Trout and Salmon Flies,” by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard, she made seventy-five of these streamers, which were presented to the Lodge members at the memorial service for Lucius A. Derby in 1942. He knew all about this.

He then asked about the “four known brook trout fin wet flies,” to which I replied, “Actually there are six historic trout fin patterns.” I had a Riker Mount with all six, so I got it out and showed the man. Brook Fin, Trout Fin, Brookie Fin, Bergman Fontinalis, Fontinalis Fin, and Armstrong Fontinalis. Michigan angler, fly caster and fly tier, Phil Armstrong, created the last three.

I also had my six original trout fin wet fly patterns; based on classic style, they are: Olive Trout Fin, Hemlock Trout Fin (previously published), and the Gold Trout Fin, Silver Trout Fin, Rainbow Fin, and Brown Trout Fin. There is one more original but I can’t think of it now.

He was there a good twenty minutes. The conversation was active, engaging, and never slowed for a minute. This man was knowledgeable beyond most of the fly tying / fly fishing folks who stop by my table. We also talked of Carrie Stevens fly tying. I had a Kelley’s Killer original, an image of the fly, tied by her, on my digital camera, so I got the camera out and showed that image to him as well. We discussed its components, differing greatly from the pattern in Hilyard’s book. It was one of those kind of exhilarating meetings that you remember.

We never did figure out who he was until we were at the bar that evening. Mary kept saying, he looked so familiar, but she could not remember his name. All of a sudden, I stated, I’m seeing an “image of the guy wearing a bow tie.” Kind of a page in my mind that just turned. She googled, “news correspondents who wear bow ties” – and BINGO!

Tucker Carlson – of Fox News. Formerly of CNN and MSNBC. Kind of made my day, after the fact. It was impressive that he was so knowledgeable about historical aspects of fly fishing and fly tying. Cool stuff!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Kelley’s Killer

Here is another addition to my Carrie Stevens Fly Pattern Dictionary; a work in progress:

Kelley’s Killer

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Steven’s pattern – a shot of triplets. All three streamers are dressed by Don Bastian on Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer hooks, size #1 – 8x. The bottom two sport silver badger feathers that had a dark flecking on the silver portion of the barbs. I found it interesting to use on this pattern.

Kelley’s Killer

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Orange floss

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Underbelly: White bucktail

Throat: White hackle fibers

Wing: Four lavender hackles flanked on each side by a slightly shorter silver badger hackle

Shoulder: Tan-tipped Amherst pheasant body feather

Cheek: Jungle cock

Head: Black with orange band

The Kelley’s Killer is one of a few of Carrie’s patterns that employs the use of silver badger hackles in the wing. It is a very beautiful pattern.

Kelley’s Killer – head, shoulder, cheek, throat macro. I love these close-up images because the viewer’s eye is always drawn to this area – the most complex and interesting portion of the pattern.