87 Carrie Stevens Streamer Patterns

Carrie Stevens Patterns
Frame No. 1 – 32 Flies:
Column 1: Lady Killer, Artula (3), Pink Lady, Lakewood (2), Rapid River (2).
Coulmn 2: Larry, Mezger’s Special, Jungle Queen, Dr. Gray, Dr. White, Colonel Fuller (3).
Column 3: Orange Miller, Don’s Special, General MacArthur, All Orange (2), Don’s Delight.
Column 4: America (3), Chief, Carrie’s Special, P. L. B. No. 2, Judge, Larry’s Special (2).

Frame No. 2 – 30 Flies:
Column 1: Big Ben, Green Witch (2), Don’s Delight, G. Donald Bartlett (2), Kelley’s Killer (3).
Column 2: Black Cat, Dazzlar, Blue Devil (2), Gray Ghost (2), Casablanca.
Column 3: Larry (2), Jenny Lind (2), Gray Lady, Blue Dragon, Pink Lady.
Column 4: Shang’s Special, Charles E. Wheeler, Shang’s Favorite, Canary Custom, Merry Widow, Lady Miller, Mrs. Duley’s Special.

These flies as arranged on the Riker Mount batting were part of my fly display at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine on Friday, September 21st, 2012. That was the date I taught a classic featherwing streamer class from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. I returned before 7:00 PM that same evening to lead the regular Friday night fly tying class at Bean’s, but this event was special because of the organization between myself and Ed Gauvin, Assistant Manager at the Hunt / Fish Store, to host David Footer as the Guest of Honor in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of his classic Maine streamer pattern, the Footer Special. More on that in a subsequent post.

The tying of Carrie Stevens patterns has been a journey for me. I was tying and fishing the Colonel Bates and Gray Ghost as far back as my high school days (my 45th Class Reunion is coming up in 2015).

In the mid-1980’s I tied several additional streamer patterns of hers; the Green Beauty, Shang’s Special, Greyhound, and Don’s Delight, and included them in a slide program I first presented in 1987 on classic Maine streamers.

Then in early summer of 2011 I began tying Carrie Stevens streamer patterns again, but much more in earnest than previously. I tied them in traditional eastern style as I had always done, adding about fifty additional patterns to the list of her patterns I dressed. Then a few months ago I had a very enlightening experience. While at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, I happened to see the enlarged display featuring the notes and drawings made by Austin Hogan, of Carrie Stevens unique tying methods, Austin was a friend of Carrie Stevens – her Austie’s Special pattern is named after him – and he was also the first curator of said Museum. When I saw them, I thought, “Cool!” and took photos of them.

Not until a couple months later, at home, did I finally download these photos and begin to read the text of the notes and study the drawings. Long story short, Carrie’s tying style was not in typical ‘eastern fashion’ as other streamers were tied. She learned to tie flies on her own, never having taking lessons. She applied what she learned as a milliner – selecting, arranging, cementing and gluing feathers together. She also without doubt, incorporated bait fish design, learned from her husband and guide, Wallace Stevens, into her streamer patterns. Her methods of material placement which I had actually seen but not really paid attention to in Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, 1950, 1966, 1995, by Joseph D. Bates, are nothing short of ingenius.

Reading Hogan’s notes and studying the methods, I realized that I was tying the Stevens patterns like most other tiers had been, adding the materials to the hook, following the recipe, but not in the particular fashion that she pioneered. I’ve recently had a couple long phone conversations with Michael Martinek, Jr. of Stoneham, Massachusetts. When he was young, Mike was taken under the wing of Austin Hogan and through that relationship, was exposed to a unique opportunity to learn how Carrie Stevens tied her flies. Mike told me that one evening in the late 1960’s, with Austin, in his apartment, he and Mike deconstructed three of Carrie’s patterns; a Gray Ghost, a Big Ben, and I believe, a Blue Devil.

Michael Martinek is the sole source, besides Austin Hogan’s notes, of the information that has led to the resurrection of tying Carrie Stevens patterns in her traditional, authentic, Rangeley style. Mike has the original copy of Hogan’s notes on Carrie Stevens tying methods, hand-written, and he also has one of the first typewritten copies as well. Mike also has a number, more than a couple dozen, of sheets of paper with cellophane packages stapled onto them, with Carrie’s own wing materials and samples and pattern notes in her handwriting. All I can say on that is, wow.

Carrie sold her business to H. Wendell Folkins in 1953, which is curious to note, that the Carrie Stevens patterns in Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon, 1982, Stewart / Leeman, tied by Folkins, are not tied using Carrie’s metionds, but rather, are dressed in typical “eastern” fashion with everything attached at the head. In fact, some of the recipes have  errors with missing components. The good thing is that many previously unknown Stevens patterns were published in that book.

In 1996, Folkins sold the rights to “Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies” to Leslie Hilyard of Massachusetts, who with his father Graydon Hilyard, is co-author of Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, Stackpole Press. Mike has been teaching Carrie Stevens’ technique using her unique methods of applying the underbelly and underwing well behind the head of the fly for thirty years. The throat, of one or two colors, and finishing in some cases with a golden pheasant crest feather, is applied in stages, layered as one would when placing  shingles on a roof. I’ve been doing this for some months now, and I can’t imagine how she managed that while tying in-hand as she did, never using a vise. This information is presented in Mike’s Streamer DVD, Classic Maine Streamers, Bennett- Watt Entertainment, Hooked on Fly Tying Series. It’s pretty difficult for anyone to say there is another person on the planet who knows more about streamers, their history, tying, tiers, origins, than Mike Martinek. Mike has taught a number of the other good streamer tiers such as Chris Del Plato of New Jersey; Richard Connors of Massachusetts; and Peter Simonson of New Hampshire.

I’m certainly a johnny-come-lately to this party, but better late than never. I don’t really like to present information from an authoritative standpoint when I think I’m correct and turns out, I’m not. Oh, yes, some internet writers do that, unintentionally, (as I have unintentionally on occasion, by being uninformed), but some present what they know because they think they know it. It’s best to rely on fly tiers and writers with years of experience and credibility to back up their writings and knowledge.

I have gotten really interested in replicating Carrie’s patterns, using her specific methods of material placement. Some of these flies in the photos are duplicates; and some were tied using the old, traditional eastern tying style (as were the Carrie Steven streamers presented by two very talented South American fly tiers in the book Forgotten Flies,  but they were not tied as Carrie did). I’ll give you a clue – I also started winding the ribbing in reverse, as Carrie Stevens did, so if you note that difference, you can see the patterns that were done before and after my ‘conversion experience.’

One more slightly sour note – last year my new head cement of choice was Wapsi Gloss Coat. After a couple months though I had a problem with it getting milky, gray, & blotchy. I learned it may have been because I was using regular hardware store lacquer thinner to thin it, turns out the use of the proper Wapsi Gloss Coat Thinner makes no difference. I’ve sold Carrie Stevens Collector’s Edition Sets on MyFlies.com, and I’m going to have to contact everyone who bought the sets when I was using the Gloss Coat to return them so I can re-do the bad heads. I can’t have bad cement ruining the reputation of my work. My friend Truman had the same problem; flies we tied in February at my cabin went gray on him. He poured the Wapsi Gloss Coat onto a log beside his driveway & trashed the bottle.

A couple interesting notes to close and then I’m done. The Don’s Special and Blue Dragon are identical, except with the reversed placement of the blue and gray hackles in the wings. Also, the Don’s Special has a red-banded head; the Blue Dragon band is orange. Another little plus in my belief that her color banding was pattern specific. The Happy Garrison and Carrie’s Special are identical in every component except the throat. The Jungle Queen and Yellow Witch are identical in every detail, wonder why the two patterns were named differently? Finally Carrie was an accomplished artist with her minimal use of body variations in her one-hundred or more patterns. From just five basic bodies, she made all these flies look so different. Primarily, silver tinsel bodies, orange floss, red floss, and black floss, almost all with silver tinsel ribbing; and a very small number of gold tinsel bodies, like you can count them on one hand – Davis Special, Orange Miller, one of the P. L. B. patterns, and um, um, uh…oh the Casablanca. There may be one more. This was changed up only by the occasional addition of a tail, almost always of red, yellow, black, or orange hackle fibers.

Another interesting note; the first mention of the Gray Ghost on the Upper Dam House log book was 1934. Not in 1924, as has been perpetuated for years. She did not catch her record brook trout on a Gray Ghost, but the log book reads on a “Shang’s Go-Getum.”. The Gray Ghost would come later.

Footer Special Fly Tying Class with David Footer as Guest of Honor

It has been advertised for about a month that I am teaching a classic streamer fly tying class at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, on Friday September 21st. There is only one space left, but Bean’s is also accepting stand-by names in event of any cancellations.

L. L. Bean also conducts regular fly tying classes Friday evenings at 7:00 PM. Since I was already scheduled to be present at Bean’s that day, I offered to serve as guest instructor for the Friday evening tying class on September 21st. In March, during the weekend of the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo, I was invited to teach the class on March 16th. My suggestion to select a pattern different than the usual packaged fly pattern kits to the store manager was acceptable, as long as the pattern used materials in Bean’s regular fly tying stock. I chose the Footer Special, primarily since it is a pattern of  Maine origin, by taxidermist – artist David Footer. I thought the class would be relatively uneventful. I was wrong.

On the Friday afternoon of the Spring Fishing Expo, one of David Footer’s friends, Nick Sibilia, member of the Saco River Salmon Club, friend came by my display area and said, “I told Dave you were teaching his pattern tonight. He’s gonna try to come.” I was thrilled. I wouldn’t have given that a thought. I had met David for the first time at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show in January of this year. https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/david-footer-and-the-footer-special/

David lives in the nearby Lewiston-Auburn area of Maine. It turned out that David could not be present that evening, but he was well-represented at the class by his daughter Julie, who works with him, and another daughter and her husband, and additional family members, grand-children, and I think even one of David’s great-grand-children. Julie had prepared a text on the origin and history of the Footer Special. This turned out to be a fortuitous combination of L. L. Bean’s 100th Anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Footer Special streamer fly. The Footer Special was first published in the 1982 book, Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon, by Dick Stewart and Bob Leeman.

It all came together very nicely that evening. The folks at Bean’s were delighted by the turnout. There were about 18 students in the class, and more spectators than students. It was the biggest attendance ever at Bean’s tying classes. It was a privilege to be involved in this.

I decided to again select the Footer Special for the class on September 21st. Once this was in motion, Ed Gauvin of the L. L. Bean Hunt / Fish Store and I decided to extend an invitation to David Footer to attend the class. I am delighted to announce that we have received confirmation from Julie Footer and David Footer. She and her father, and David’s wife, Annette, have graciously accepted the invitation and will be coming to the class on September 21st. Considering that we have more promotion time, it is anticipated that this evening will be even better than the previous Footer Special class.

David Footer has been an artist and taxidermist for over sixty years. He will be presenting his personal account of the Footer Special streamer pattern creation along with the big fish story that goes with it.

David Footer is one of the few remaining Maine personalities with direct links to the rich history and traditions of the Rangeley Lakes Region and the Golden Age of the Maine streamer fly. Julie Footer provided this information about her father: “He took the North Western School of Taxidermy correspondence course- and was licensed by the time he was 15, which was in 1946- that was also the year he first ever saw a Herb Welch mount: which was hanging at Bald Mountain Camps in the main Lodge. My father never knew who mounted that fish until years later (but the sight of it inspired him), and never met Herb Welch- to speak with about taxidermy until October of 1952 when he was 21 years old, and already had been a licensed taxidermist for six years.”

Herb Welch was a contemporary and friend of Carrie G. Stevens. Between Carrie Stevens’ Gray Ghost and Herb’s Black Ghost, they own the distinction of being the originators of the two most famous streamer patterns ever created. Herb Welch was recognized as the best taxidermist of his day. David Footer is linked to this history through personal experience.

Julie also included this information, “Under the direction of Master Taxidermist Herb Welch, David’s mentor, he honed his skills and became a master himself in the craft.” Here is a link to David’s About the Artist web page: http://davidfooter.com/?page_id=3

This Footer Special fly tying class with pattern originator David A. Footer as guest of honor will be held on the mezzanine at L. L. Bean, 7:00 PM. The class is free, anyone is welcome to attend. Materials will be provided. Tiers should plan your arrival ten to fifteen minutes early! Spectators are welcome!

I was priviliged to tie the Footer Special for the 2000 book, Forgotten Flies. It is also one of the patterns included in my 2007 DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails.

I am very excited about this! A special thank you to Julie Footer, for your assistance in providing accurate information of your father’s early years of taxidermy. Thank you all for your interest and support!

The Footer Special – created by David Footer in 1962.

Footer Special:

Hook: Any standard streamer hook, 6x to 10x long, size #1 to #8

Body: Flat gold tinsel

Belly: Sparse dark blue bucktail followed by 4 – 6 strands peacock herl

Underwing: Sparse red bucktail over which is sparse yellow bucktail

Wing: Two yellow hackles; some tiers use four hackles in the wing

Shoulders: Guinea fowl body feathers

Head: Black

There is a large flat-screen TV to provide a detailed, close-up view of the tying instructions to the class.

Wet Fly Class – May 25 at L. L. Bean

Parmacheene Belle – the original Lake Fly version presented in the Orvis books of 1883 and 1892.

L. L. Bean Schedules Classic Wet Fly Class

The Hunting and Fishing Store of L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, has scheduled me to teach a classic wet fly class on Friday, May 25th, 2012.

There is a registration fee of $10.00. Bean’s is donating the proceeds from this class to Trout Unlimited. The hours of the session are from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM. This class is for intermediate and advanced fly tiers.

We will be tying historic trout wet fly patterns, focusing on the tying of patterns primarily of Maine origin, featuring the original dressing for the Parmacheene Belle illustrated above, created by Henry Wells in the 1880′s. The Governor Alvord shown below is also on the class list. A video camera will be utilized to illustrate detailed step-by-step tying procedures on a large flat-screen TV.

The class will include detailed instruction and student participation of some standard style dressings using a variety of techniques and materials with the purpose of teaching the necessary procedures for tying winged wet flies. Full explanation and revelation of the “mysteries” of tying single strip quill wing and married-wing wet flies is the goal of this class, which is just one good reason to sign up.

And here is another good reason in the form of a student testimonial:

I taught a class on Sunday March 24th at the Penobscot Fly Fishers Class in Brewer, Maine. During the first morning break, an elderly tier came up to me during the mid-morning break and stated, “I have struggled with these wings for years. You have solved my problems in a half-hour with your instruction.”

The pattern and material list will be provided upon registration. In addition to vise, light, and tools, the students are requested to bring the necessary materials, which will also be available for purchase in the L. L. Bean fly tying department.

Class size is limited to ten, to register contact Ed Gauvin at L. L. Bean:


For reservations by phone call: 207-552-6677, ext. 17714; or toll-free:  800-221-4221, ext: 17714.

Feel free to also contact Don Bastian with any questions.  dwbastian@chilitech.net

Registrations are being accepted at the registers in the Hunting and Fishing Store and by phone or e-mail. A good class in anticipated! Thank you for your interest!

Governor Alvord – pattern from Favorite Flies and Their Histories, Mary Orvis Marbury.

Footer Special Streamers – Streamers365.com

Sometime in 2011 I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Streamers365.com Project, a year-long internet gallery devoted to featherwing streamer patterns. Darren MacEachern of Toronto, Canada, is the man behind the scenes with this project. I have placed Darren’s photos of my streamers here on my blog as they have appeared on Streamers365.com, but somehow I missed the Footer Special that was posted on April 19th:   http://streamers365.com/2012/04/110-footer-special/

The Footer Special on that day is presented by two tiers, Charlie Mann and myself. Here is Darren’s photo of the pattern:

Footer Specials – tied by Charlie Mann – top, and Don Bastian – bottom. Darren MacEachern photo.

The link to Streamers365.com above also presents a bit of the history on the pattern.

I need to get busy and write the story about the Friday night fly tying class I taught at L. L. Bean last March during their 3-day 100th Anniversary Spring Fishing Expo. Here is a nutshell account:

Bean’s conducts regular Friday evening fly tying classes in the Fishing Department of their Flagship Store in Freeport, Maine, during fall, winter, and spring. They normally present flies in their classes that are part of their packaged L. L. Bean Fly Tying Pattern kits. Since the same patterns were presented a couple years in a row, I suggested to Ed Maillet, Department Manager at the time of planning last November, to consider doing “something different.”

Ed agreed. His only request of me was to present a pattern that Bean’s would have the materials for tying in their stock. The Footer Special met these requirements, also it is a Maine streamer pattern, and was one of the streamers featured in my streamer DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails. Little did I know that 2012 is the 50th Anniversary year of the creation of the Footer Special. The resulting Friday evening class turned out to be the best class Bean’s ever had in terms of the number of people present. Nick Sibilia, member of the Saco River Salmon Club in Biddeford, Maine, http://www.sacosalmon.com/ is a friend of David Footer and had informed David that I was tying his pattern at the class. While there were about 17 students, eight or ten members of the Footer family was present, including daughter Julie who has been David’s right-hand girl for many years in his taxidermy and art studio.

David Footer came by my display table at Bean’s on Saturday and I got to spend some time talking to him, and I also met his wife. On Sunday we had lunch together in the room provided by Bean’s for the Spring Fishing Expo guests and celebrities. It’s been a delight getting to know David; he is a very friendly, kind man. And talented. He trained under famous Maine taxidermist / artist Herbert Welch, originator of the famous Black Ghost streamer.

Including the Footer family members and additional spectators, there were about thirty-five people present at the class. Needless to say, Bean’s staff of retail and promotional employees were delighted by this unanticipated response.

Footer Special – created by David Footer, tied by Don Bastian. Photo by Darren MacEachern, Streamers365.com

David’s creation of the Footer Special mirrors the fly designs of Maine Warden Supervisor, Joe Stickney, originator of the Supervisor – also one of my other patterns presented on Streamers 365.com:  http://streamers365.com/2012/01/20-supervisor/ and other streamer patterns including the famous Warden’s Worry and Lady Doctor. Joe Stickney and David Footer share the common creativity of fly pattern design, while neither of them tied flies. They created their patterns and had them dressed by friends who were fly tiers.

Here is a link to David Footer’s website:  http://davidfooter.com/

Finally part of the project of Streamers365.com is a monthly eBay auction of the streamers presented the previous month. Here is a link to my Footer Special, in case anyone is interested: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Footers-Special-by-Don-Bastian-Streamers-365-Cased-Rare-Fishing-Memorabilia-/140749019353?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item20c54b98d9

I tied two Footer Special streamers the night of the class, and presented them to David on Sunday at the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo. I intend to write more on some of the details and post photos of those flies as well. Thanks for reading!

Carrie Stevens Streamer Patterns

I plan to eventually place  a large collection of Carrie Stevens patterns here on my blog. My plan is to ultimately implement a “Dictionary of Carrie Stevens Streamer Patterns.” My goal is to create this as an ongoing project to include photos of multiple patterns, macros of individual streamers, pattern recipes, some fly tying tutorials and tips, and even some fish pictures showing the successful and effective use of Carrie Stevens streamer flies. Several of my other posts feature Carrie Stevens Streamer patterns.