Carrie Stevens Streamer Patterns

I have posted these same flies previously, but these are some new flies and new photos.

Carrie Stevens Streamer patterns; closkciws from upper left:

An assortment of Carrie Stevens Streamer patterns; clockwise from upper left: Pink Lady (2); Gray Ghost (2); Blue Devil (2); Colonel Bates (2); Larry’s Special, Larry, Rapid River, and Lakewood, center. All dressed on Gaelic Supreme Rangeley Style Carrie Stevens / Mike Martinek streamer hooks. Sizes are #1, #2, #4 all 8x long.

And a macro of the heads, shoulders, and cheeks like spokes of a wheel.

Same flies arranged in a wheel pattern. The head band colors are true to Carrie's original pattern specs.

Same flies arranged in a wheel pattern. The head band colors are true to Carrie’s original pattern specs.

And carded for sale to collectors:

Lakewood - Carrie Stevens streamer pattern, named for Lakwood Camps. Only a few of her 100-plus original patterns sported an orange head with a black band.

Lakewood – Carrie Stevens streamer pattern, named for Lakwood Camps. Only a few of her 100-plus original patterns sported an orange head with a black band.

Larry - a streamer pattern designed by Carrie Stevens and named after Larry Parsons, owner of Lakewood Camps from 1945 to 1974.

Larry – a streamer pattern designed by Carrie Stevens and named after Larry Parsons, owner of Lakewood Camps from 1945 to 1974.

Larry's Special - the second of two streamer patterns created by Carrie Stevens, named for Larry Parsons, owner of Lakewood Camps from 1945 - 1974.

Larry’s Special – the second of two streamer patterns created by Carrie Stevens, named for Larry Parsons, owner of Lakewood Camps from 1945 – 1974.

Rapid River - the fourth streamer pattern created by Carrie G. Stevens and associated with the Rapid River, Lakewood Camps, and former camp owner Larry Parsons.

Rapid River – the fourth streamer pattern created by Carrie G. Stevens and associated with the Rapid River, Lakewood Camps, and former camp owner Larry Parsons.

These four streamers are available in a boxed set, part of my Collector’s Edition series of Carrie Stevens streamer patterns. Presently priced at $80, the cost is soon going up for a few reasons – they have been rather inexpensive for one, and also to help cover the 5% fee and shipping costs associated with MyFlies.com. Here is the link to the “Lakewood” Collector’s Edition Set No. 4 on MyFlies.com:

http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-4-P784.aspx

Originally when I listed these sets for sale, I was winding the ribbing clockwise, but a couple years ago I changed that on Carrie Stevens patterns to wind counter clockwise as she did. I also learned how to apply the throats in her unique, original layered method, the result of my photos and study of the copies of Austin Hogan’s notes that were on display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. This method was first learned by contemporary fly tier, Mike Martinek, Jr., of Stoneham, Massachusetts. Conversations I have had with Mike have benefitted me, and his classes have taught other tiers, to name a few, Rich Connors, Peter Simonson, and Peggy Brenner how to replicate streamers in the true Carrie Stevens Rangeley method. Mike had the good fortune to be taken under the wing of Austin Hogan while a young member of the United Fly Tyers in the Boston area. Mike was privileged to participate in the deconstruction of three or four Carrie Stevens original streamer patterns in Austin’s apartment in 1967. The information Mike learned has been presented in a number of articles and videos over the years. Thanks Mike, for your help, and learning and passing on techniques that might have been lost.

I feel the need to make a few more comments: The knowledge and experience of Mike Martinek and other long-time streamer tiers should not be considered lightly. These folks who have put their time in – for years – decades – learning and honing their craft – are the fly tiers who deserve credit for their expertise, knowledge, and credibility. One does not gain “expert” status merely by tying for a few years and then suddenly coming out of the woodwork and writing a bunch of articles and even a book. I don’t care how good a fly tier may be, I realize, like musicians, some folks have talent and aptitude to excel at an early stage. A couple friends in the few years stage of very good fly tying I would make note of are Stanley Williams of West Enfield, Maine, and fellow Pennsylvanian, Eunan Hendron. Yet there is ultimately no substitute for decades of experience. Look at me, I have been tying flies for almost fifty-one years, and it was only in 2012 that I learned the correct way to authentically dress Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style streamers, in the fashion that she originated. For me the final learning curve was merely noticing and paying attention to details that I ought to have recognized earlier on. However, I do not, and likely never will attempt to hand-tie her patterns. Tried once and quite frankly, I don’t know how she pulled it off, to do her throat method while holding the hook, working the thread, and placing the hackle fibers. An old dog can learn new tricks, but this dog won’t likely tie streamers sans vise.

A pair of Gray Ghosts. A Carrie G. Stevens streamer pattern, first found listed on one of her invoices in 1934. No argument here; the Gray Ghost is the most famous streamer pattern ever created, and not likely to ever be surpassed in that distinction.

A pair of Gray Ghosts. A Carrie G. Stevens streamer pattern, first found listed on one of her invoices in 1934. No argument here; the Gray Ghost is the most famous streamer pattern ever created, and not likely to ever be surpassed in that distinction.

A pair of Colonel Bates streamers. Oddly enough, and I don't like to complain, but the person for whom this fly was named had two components incorrectly labeled in his own book.  Joseph D. Bates "Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing." Subsequent evidence - numerous Carrie Stevens original Colonel Bates streamers, including the Captain Bates and Major Bates, show the tail to be red hackle fibers. This makes sense, since not one  of the 100-plus streamer flies she originated have sections of duck quill for tails. And the shoulders on the Colonel Bates are and always were gray mallard, not teal.

A pair of Colonel Bates streamers. Oddly enough, and I don’t like to complain, but the person for whom this fly was named had two components incorrectly labeled in his own book. Joseph D. Bates “Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing.” Subsequent evidence – numerous Carrie Stevens original Colonel Bates streamers, including the Captain Bates and Major Bates, show the tail to be red hackle fibers. This makes sense, since not one of the 100-plus streamer flies she originated have sections of duck quill for tails. And the shoulders on the Colonel Bates are and always were gray mallard, not teal.

A pair of Blue Devils.

A pair of Blue Devils. One of the three streamer patterns in Carrie Stevens “Devil” series. The other two are the Red Devil and White Devil. All three patterns sport shoulders of “partridge” or pah-tridge” – indigenous to her local area near Upper Dam at Mooselucmaguntic Lake in Maine’s famous Rangeley Lakes Region.

A pair of the Pink Lady streamer pattern, originated by Carrie Stevens. This was the final fly tied of her career, on the day in December 1953, when she sold her business to H. Wendell Folkins of New Hampshire.

A pair of the Pink Lady streamer pattern, originated by Carrie Stevens. This was the final fly tied of her career, on the day in December 1953, when she sold her business to H. Wendell Folkins of New Hampshire.

The Carrie Stevens Collector’s Edition Set No. 1 is available on MyFlies.com:

http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-1-P658.aspx

One tying note I’d like to point out, and I learned this from experience and just by paying attention: When replicating Carrie Stevens streamer patterns, it is important to note that images of her original patterns – the proportions – the components of underbelly, underwing of bucktail peacock herl, golden pheasant crest, silver pheasant crests, should always be as long as the wing. No shorties. I mean, you can tie them anyway you like to fish with, but for the sake of fly pattern historical accuracy, lets be true to her original design specs and proportions.

Cost of these four-fly Collector’s Sets is going to be increased to $90. Orders may also be place directly through me. Find me on facebook too: Don Bastian.

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Pink Lady Fan Wing Dry Fly

Considering my fly tying and fly fishing roots, in that I was exposed to Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman at age 12, and also How To Tie Flies, 1940, by E. C. Gregg; these two books had a profound influence on my early interest and education in tying flies. Other than seeing my dad tie three flies, I never saw anyone else tie a fly for ten years, except my brother, Larry, since we shared dad’s tying tools and materials until he went away to college in 1972. Primarily because of those two books you could say I am a classically-trained fly tier. Similar to a musician who was classically-trained, but I have stayed closer to my traditional roots than a classically-trained musician who becomes a performer of rock or jazz. My traditional fly tying roots include stories of how the Fan Wing Royal Coachman was a favorite dry fly pattern of my father, Donald R. Bastian.

Ray Bergman wrote about the Fan Wing Royal Coachman in his books, but it was not until later in my tying career that I obtained a copy of Ray’s first book, Just Fishing, 1932. Bergman’s account in Just Fishing describes his initial revulsion at the mere appearance of the Fan Wing Royal Coachman, and then continues in the text of that book as to how and why the pattern quickly became one of his favorite dry fly patterns.

From the single color plate of dry flies in Just Fishing, painted by artist Dr. Edgar Burke, there is a Fan Wing Pink Lady. I always thought that was a beautiful fly. Over a decade ago, bowing to my classically-trained fly tying roots, I put together a boxed selection of five different Fan Wing dry fly patterns, containing, of course the Royal Coachman, plus a Light Cahill, March Brown, Green Drake, and the Pink Lady. Last season during the shows I sold the last boxed set I had, but I have had a few dozen fan wing flies completed, ready to make up a few more sets, save for tying a couple more of the patterns to complete the selections.

The Pink Lady became a well-known dry fly pattern, thanks to George M. L. LaBranche, who in 1914, authored The Dry Fly and Fast Water. LaBranche is credited for originating the Pink Lady. In the 1920’s when Fan Wing patterns became popular, it was only natural that someone would take the Pink Lady and convert it to a Fan Wing pattern.

Here is a Fan Wing Pink Lady that I tied a couple years ago:

Fan Wing Pink Lady - the hook is a size #10 standard fine wire dry fly hook.

Fan Wing Pink Lady – the hook is a size #10 standard fine wire dry fly hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Fan Wing Pink Lady

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, size #8 to #12

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #2 Cream

Wings: White duck breast feathers, see footnote below *

Tag: Narrow flat gold tinsel

Tail: Golden pheasant tippet

Ribbing: Narrow flat gold tinsel

Body: Pink floss, pale in color

Hackle: Light ginger

Head: Cream

* Male wood duck breast feathers can be used for the white wings, though during the Golden Age of Fan Wing Drys in the 1920’s and ’30’s, wood ducks were under the protection of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Nearly driven to the brink of extinction by loss of habitat due to intense logging and unrestricted market hunting, the extirpation of the wood duck was a definite possibility, considering the fate of the passenger pigeon. Mandarin duck feathers were used, as were also the breast feathers from small breeds of white domestic ducks. Wood ducks were fully protected starting in 1918, but some states allowed limited hunting of wood ducks to resume in the late 1940’s. ‘Woodies’ were not hunted again nationwide until 1959. Thankfully wood duck populations are presently healthy, the result of intensive duck box nesting programs and sensible hunting practices.

I apologize that I do not have a front view of the fan wings, but you can check my recent post on the Fan Wing Royal Coachman. The wings look the same. Wing sizing should be equal to the length of the entire hook. A heavier tippet, 4x, is best when fishing fan wing drys, and minimizing your false casting also works to your advantage.

I listed the wings as the first ingredient, because when tying these flies, it is advisable to mount the wings first. I believe there is feather mounting information in my Fan Wing Green Drake post. Don’t forget you can use the search key tab at the to right of my home page; just type in a topic you are looking for, and hit ‘enter.’

The Fan Wing Pink Lady is a classic dry fly pattern.

Streamer Hackle Feathers, Part II

I just completed some editing, with new information added to an older post on Carrie Stevens’ Pink Lady streamer. I also placed that particular post in my Carrie Stevens Pattern Dictionary category. Here is a link to the updated post:

https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/carrie-stevens-and-elizabeth-duly-sisters-pink-lady-streamers/

In this followup commentary to my earlier post of a couple days ago: Selecting Streamer Hackle, I have these comments to add to my initial topic on selecting feathers for streamer wings, and the exact type, shape, and origin of feathers that some fly tiers may think are supposed to be used on streamer fly patterns:

My post, Selecting Streamer Hackle, was an effort to present information to help other fly tiers make informed choices when examining and buying feathers for streamer wings. This was done in response to numerous questions I have received over the past few years on the subject. I presented my thoughts with the benefit of information gleaned, absorbed, and some forgotten, from almost five decades of personal experience of fly tying and fly fishing and reading and studying about fly tying, fly fishing, and the history of both. As an adolescent and teenaged fly tier, tying Gray Ghosts, Black Ghosts, the Colonel Bates, and a dozen other feather wing streamers and bucktails in hook sizes #4 through #12 for my personal fishing use, I was not concerned or even aware of, at the time, what the “correct” shape of feathers for streamers should be. I was concerned only with having feathers of any grade reasonably suitable to use. Lucky for me, E. Hille – The Angler’s Supply House, started business in 1936, operated in my hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Getting feathers was never a problem.

Proper feather selection for streamers seems to have only gained a foothold in fly tier’s personal preferences in the present electronic information age, perhaps initially set forth in the mid-1990’s by Mike Martinek Jr. in his booklet,  Streamer Fly Patterns for Trolling and Casting; made more difficult by decades of demand by fly tiers for better quality dry fly hackle with breeders focusing their hackle development accordingly.

In my Selecting Feathers post, I relied on my familiarity with Mike Martinek’s preference, and that echoed by author, David Klausmeyer, in his 2004 book, Tying Classic Freshwater Streamers. I could have posted the photo of the cover of Dave’s book to illustrate the “preferred” shape of a streamer feather. I didn’t have a photo then, but here it is now:

Cover image of Tying Classic Freshwater Streamers, by David Klausmeyer. The feather shape of this wing is pretty much what most present-day streamer tiers would prefer to use.

The photo of the “just right” saddle hackles feathers that was posted at the end of my initial post is pretty much a match for the shape of the feathers on this fly on the cover of David’s book. For fishing flies, do we need “perfect” feathers? Of course not. Fly tiers on the other hand; many of us devoted to pursuit of perfection in our tying pay strict attention to details and quality of the materials we use.

There are also many more excellent fly tiers, with years and years of experience, scattered across the world; to name just a few of the still-living tiers: Chris Del Plato, Darren MacEachern, Mike Boyer, Rich Connors, Bob Frandsen, Leslie Hilyard, Peter Simonson, Deryn LaCombe, Greg Heffner, Tom Baltz, Joel Stansbury, Ted Patlen, Mike Norwood, and the aforementioned Mike Martinek. There are surely many more accomplished fly tiers. This is not a who’s who listing, so omission of many relatively new, yet skilled tiers with less than say, five years experience, is not an oversight. I merely chose to include a few tiers with a decade or more of tying experience behind them.

The reproduction of the Carrie Stevens streamers in Forgotten Flies, 1999, by South American fly tiers, Pedro “Pep” Dieppa and Marcelo Morales, while not a true representation of the traditional Rangeley style of streamer tying; their work is nonetheless a superb and impeccable accomplishment, and is a representation of excellent quality and experience by master fly tiers.

Fly tiers inherently infuse pattern replication with their own personal style. It’s almost unavoidable. Some tiers make every effort to reproduce a fly in the exact tradition of a pattern originator, right down to minute details; others tie the fly for display or to catch fish with less emphasis placed on replicating the original design and style. Again, personal subjectivity enters the equation.

The following is excerpted from comments taken from the above post, from close study of the two Pink Lady streamers tied by Carrie Stevens and her fly tying sister, Elizabeth Duley:

“Finally, there is an obvious difference between these flies in the shape of the feathers used for the wings. Most Rangeley style streamer devotees have a strong preference for hackles that are not too wide and also not too long, not too narrow, and not too pointed, preferring more rounded hackles as on Elizabeth’s rendition of the Pink Lady. Carrie’s pattern here clearly utilized some hackles that are narrower and more pointed than what is usually recommended and preferred by experienced Rangeley style streamer fly tiers. This indicates her resourcefulness to use materials at hand, even if they are not of the preferred shape. Fly tiers have been making adaptations and adjustments in their tying for centuries.”

In the remote Rangeley Region of Maine, where Carrie Stevens lived and worked during the 1930’s, ’40’s, and ’50’s. She didn’t have a multitude of fly shops close at hand. Another consideration: the type and quality of feathers then was a little different than it is today.

Regarding other originators of “New England” style streamers; one has to say that with respect for the streamer fly history that is associated with Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and the rest of the New England states, these tiers had their own personal specifications for the length of wings, and the shape of the feathers for their original patterns. Joseph D. Bates book, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, 1950, 1966, 1995 was the first book written that began to compile the origins and history of “long flies.” It is a good reference and a great place to start learning about streamer fly history. There are other books too, right up to the new release, Long Flies, by Gary A. Borger. I do not have that book, yet, but I am sure it will eventually occupy a place in my angling library.

I have one more photo and some notes to add here to contribute additional information to this topic, but that will be an edit later on.

Carrie Stevens and Elizabeth Duley – Sister’s Pink Lady Streamers

Thanks to Graydon and Leslie Hilyard and their wonderful book, Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies; Stackpole Books, 2000, much of the historic information about the career and personal life of fly tier, entrepreneur, and milliner Carrie G. Stevens is preserved in the marvelous documentation of photos and written accounts in the book. The portion of the fly tying community who are interested in nostalgia and historical preservation owes Graydon and Leslie Hilyard a debt of gratitude for capturing this information before it slipped into the forgotten vault of the past. Pamela Bates, daughter of Joseph D. Bates who was a friend of Mrs. Stevens and for whom the Colonel Bates streamer was created, wrote in the foreword to the book: “One of the many glories of Hilyard’s research is that he grasped what is most probably the last opportunity to document what little primary source material remains.” Pamela also wrote of Carrie, “As she aspired to perfection, she became the first American tier to employ the British tradition of creating flies for the fishermen and letting the fish take care of the rest.” Indeed.

While at the Marlborough, Massachusetts, Fly Fishing Show over January (2012) 20th to the 22nd, I caught up with fellow fly tier and friend, Ed Muzeroll, from Sydney, Maine. We met more than ten years ago at one of the shows, and I am pleased to say Ed is one of the contributing tiers, recreating the 19th century Orvis fly patterns for my upcoming book, Favorite Fishing Flies o- 1892. See my November announcement on the book: https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/new-book-announcement/

As we visited at my table, Ed showed me this pair of Pink Lady streamers; the unique aspect of these two flies is that they were dressed by sisters, Carrie Stevens and Elizabeth Duley. The streamer at the top was tied by Elizabeth, and the bottom fly was dressed by Carrie Stevens.

Pink Lady streamers – the top fly was tied by Elizabeth Duley, sister of Carrie Stevens, the bottom fly was dressed by Carrie G. Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian.

I took the photos hand-held with my Canon G9 Powershot using no flash. (I really never get good results photographing flies with flash). Carrie most likely created her Pink Lady streamer as a conversion from the famous wet fly created by George M. L. LaBranche, author of two books: The Dry Fly and Fast Water, 1914, and The Salmon and the Dry Fly, 1924.

Here are some interesting aspects on these flies that I would like to comment on:

It appears the hooks are the same size, but look to perhaps be from different manufacturers. The heads are quite different; Elizabeth’s head is much larger that Carrie’s usual elongated, narrower style and shape. It is important to note that both heads have Carrie’s color band, here appearing to be orange. According to the recipe published in Hilyard’s book, the Pink Lady has a head band of pink thread.

To me, the fact that her sister incorporated Carrie’s band into her fly reinforces my belief that the color band was not Carrie’s signature, as much as it was a component of the fly pattern itself. H. Wendell Folkins, to whom she sold her business in 1953, was given specific instructions by Carrie Stevens to continue the use of her color-banded heads. I believe it is a tribute and sign of respect in recognition of a Carrie Stevens pattern to use the banded heads. I personally came to this conclusion last summer after more than 20 years of tying Steven’s patterns without the bands. See this earlier post on the topic:

https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/streamer-four-packs/

Note the length of the bodies on both flies, the body ends above the hook point, while some of Carrie’s flies have shorter bodies. Elizabeth’s Pink Lady lacks the tag of flat silver tinsel; it would appear that Carrie’s fly includes it, but it is difficult to see under the bucktail belly. Note the ribbing – Carrie’s is counterclockwise, while sister Elizabeth wound the rib to the right.

Finally, there is an obvious difference between these flies in the shape of the feathers used for the wings. Most Rangeley style streamer devotees have a strong preference for hackles that are not too wide and also not too long, not too narrow, and not too pointed, preferring more rounded hackles as on Elizabeth’s rendition of the Pink Lady. Carrie’s pattern here clearly utilized some hackles that are narrower and more pointed than what is usually recommended and preferred by experienced Rangeley style streamer fly tiers. This indicates her resourcefulness to use materials at hand, even if they are not of the preferred shape. Fly tiers have been making adaptations and adjustments in their tying for centuries.

I wanted to share these flies through my photos because I believe this is a very interesting bit of history, illustrating the differing fly tying styles between sisters Carrie Stevens and Elizabeth Duley.

Pink Lady Streamer tied by Carrie Stevens. From the collection of Ed “Muzzy” Muzerol, Don Bastian photo.

Carrie Stevens Streamer Patterns

An assortment of Carrie Steven’s streamer patterns tied by Don Bastian including the Gray Ghost, Charles E. Wheeler, General MacArthur, Judge, Don’s Delight, Colonel Bates, Blue Devil, etc. Most of them are tied on the fine English-made Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style size #1 8x long hooks.

Let me say right off the top – I am far from an expert on this. Nevertheless I’d like to share my experience and what I have learned during a recent fly tying tour de force of these streamers.

Please refer to my post of last week titled; Streamer Four-Packs where I discussed my experience of tying Carrie Seven’s patterns … as I have off and on since the late 1960’s. For example, the Gray Ghost was in my streamer wallet, bracketed in sizes #4 through #12, tied by me on the old Mustad 3665A 6xl hooks when I was still in high school.
I finally did a few sets of streamer wings in June 2011 by cementing them for the very first time…and I decided to do this when my usual technique – tie in the wing, then the shoulder, then the cheek, using no glue, which has worked real well for me 98% of the time, did not work to my satisfaction. I was working on my first-ever Big Ben, and it was those golden pheasant tippet shoulder feathers that were giving me fits. They just didn’t want to lay down, not to mention stay straight.

After cementing my first set of streamer wings with Angler’s Corner cement provided by another tier, (I would have used Flexament but had none at the time), I settled on the use of Elmer’s Rubber Cement. It was the only option available to me, since my Flexament had thickened, I had no thinner, and the nearest fly shop is 22 miles one-way from my home. Ever since that first cemented wing, I have cemented the components on every streamer wing I have made ever since. I conducted tests in June of 2011, soaking cemented wings in water for up to 36 hours, and violent physical shaking to try to make the wings fall apart, which were unsuccessful. For test results on the Elmer’s Rubber cement, see: https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/carrie-stevens-streamers-cementing-wings/

Prior to my use of cement on streamer wings I always tied the wings in first, then the shoulders and cheeks, all one at a time. In the video segment of the Gray Ghost wing and other streamers in my DVD – Traditional Streamers and Bucktails –  there was no editing or second attempts there, as I set the wings on the Black Ghost, Barnes Special, and Gray Ghost in that order, I was even a little surprised during filming that my first attempt setting all these wings went off without a hitch. Without cement, the best method is to leave hackle barbs on the butt ends of your trimmed wing hackles, group them together, and tie them in with tight wraps, tying in both stems and some of the fibers at the base of the barbs. The attached barbs prevent twisting of the stems. To confirm this procedure and its success, watch the DVD.
So the wing assembly – gluing ahead of time, when I did finally do it; was a last resort to “keep it together” in a situation where setting the entire wing in stages of construction wasn’t going off without a hitch.
Guess what? I liked it. So I started doing it, all the time. One after another. Perhaps it takes more time collectively to tie the Carrie Stevens patterns this way than sans gluing, because of the time you spend selecting, pairing, matching, etc…but the tie-in of the preassembled wings is for me, takes ten seconds or less. I do it just like my wet fly wings, no soft wraps; pinch tight, make all tight wraps from the start, stems placed slightly above the center line of the sides of the head, the inside stems of each wing assembly are actually placed together; a slight tilt toward you to oppose the thread torque, and they’re good to go…only a few times so far have I needed to reset them and try again…

The fact that I (or another experience fly tier) am suddenly doing things differently isn’t surprising – I was forty years old before I learned to like bananas. Previously I hated ’em. I used to think like this: “How do you ruin a good fruit salad? Add bananas!” I’ve been eating bananas since 1992.

So to follow up on this: I have been converted.  I know, shocking…truth is, I’ll probably never again tie a Carrie Stevens pattern, or perhaps other New England style streamers that are similar in design, without cementing the wing components together. This change in my mindset all happened in a matter of a few days, as I began this process, using the Stevens method, building wings one-by-one. This change came about as a result of a fellow tier’s suggestion, but I learned twenty years ago that even novice and intermediate tiers are capable of providing good advice or a better method of a certain procedure to tiers with more years of experience.

Doing this, I have found that even patterns such as the Victory, Jungle Queen, Merry Widow, and Firefly that lack shoulders but still have jungle cock cheeks are made to better advantage for tying, and the construction of the integrated cement lends added stability to the front portion of the wing. There is less flip-flopping of the individual feathers in the wing when the front portion, say 25% of the stem length is bound to the adjacent feather(s) with cement. The cement should be kept shorter than the length of the shoulder, lacking a shoulder, then no longer than shy of the tip of the jungle cock nail cheek.  I’ve been using Elmer’s Rubber Cement; basically because I had no other alternative adhesive available at the time, and I like it. It does not bleed through much at all. When properly applied any bleed-through of the cement is concealed underneath the enamel portion of the jungle cock cheek. Some of the Stevens and other New England style patterns use six hackles in the wings. I use the cement only along the stem, I don’t suggest spreading it out across the sections into the barbs of the feather away from the stem.
My recent reading and study of the Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard has also influenced me on this. I confess – I bought it new when it came out, but all I ever did was read through the photo captions and look at the pictures. I missed a lot by not reading it sooner.

Speaking from the position of my experience of being stubborn about my previous method; I’ve said this before: as a fly tier, never assume you know everything, or don’t close your mind to another method. We can always learn from others. I like Poul Jorgenson’s quote, “Fly tying is a school from which no one ever graduates.” I was exposed to something new to me, and rather than face it closed-minded, I learned from the experience. Learning new methods is sometimes hard for me to do. Fly tiers can be like that occasionally, dare I say a little stubborn? Set in our ways? Whatever, it makes us what we are.

In the last four days I have tied over 24 different Stevens patterns, and made wings for more than 30 more streamers, some are repeat patterns already tied, and others are for patterns that I have never previously dressed. Last night I made six sets of Gray Ghost wings for #2 & #4 Mustad 3665A’s; these were ordered by my customer Rich, who bought that $15 Gray Ghost tied on the antique Edgar Sealey 1797J Hook and allowed his wofe to fish it in the Adirondacks! Ha! See the post on my blog of their Adirondack fishing success. https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/wet-fly-fishing-testimonial/

Consider the General MacArthur and Green Beauty, for example – the last time I tied these particular patterns was in 1987. I remember that because it was October of that year when, for the Pennsylvania State Council of Trout Unlimited Annual Banquet & Seminars that was held in my hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, I presented my first-ever slide program. It was a presentation (albeit abbreviated) on New England Style streamer flies. I had tied flies from Joseph Bates book, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, such as the Green Beauty, Nine-Three, Bolshevik, Black Ghost, Ballou Special, and Colonel Bates, and included them in my program.

Completed wing assemblies by Don Bastian for Carrie Steven’s streamer patterns; some are: Gray Ghost, Jitterbug, Merry Widow, Davis Special, General MacArthur, Don’s Special, Embden Fancy, Colonel Fuller, Larry, Shang’s Special, Golden Witch, Green Beauty, Governor…I typed it from memory, so the list is incomplete as to what I actually here. Most were sized for Gaelic Supreme size #1 8x long Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hooks., though some of them, are smaller. There’s a couple General MacArthur and America wings here that are matched for 6x long Mustad 3665A hooks. I literally tied ’em and tossed ’em, well, rather gently, laid them here. They are right under the jaws of my Regal Stainless Steel C-clamp vise. This was not a set up shot.

Many of these patterns are new to me – the Jitterbug, Davis Special, White Ghost, Governor, Allie’s Special, Allie’s Favorite, Charles E. Wheeler, Don’s Special, Embden Fancy…they are beautiful, more so in real life when you tie one yourself than in photos. This is a renewal of this aspect of fly tying interest for me.
It’s a good thing I have a bunch of the necessary materials previously accumulated in my cache of tying stuff. The reality is that many Carrie Stevens patterns were new to everyone. Prior to the release of Hilyard’s book in 2000 and Forgotten Flies in 1999, few people were aware of the extentsive number of patterns Carrie Stevens actually created.
I took these photos quick, the one of the assemblies was hand-held, and I only took a few shots. I present them here exactly as the flies & wings lie on my tying table. (Which is extremely cluttered). And by the way, none of the heads are finished yet with the matched banding of colors, which I will do before I consider them complete. My explanation on that is in the Streamer Four-Packs topic. https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/streamer-four-packs/

Some new photos added below on August 4, 2011:

Assembled wings for the Jenny Lind; note the slight variation of the shade of blue. Many of the Carrie Stevens original flies reveal differences of colors. Like fly tiers of today she was limited on occasion to availability of feathers and different dye lots. It is not always possible to obtain the same color of feathers. These wings were selected from two different capes, both labeled as Silver Doctor Blue; one set from a neck, the other from a saddle. I think either shade is acceptable; Carrie’s original Jenny Lind streamers tend toward a light, pale blue. The hooks are Mustad 3665A (traditional) the big one is a size #2. These wings were made for Nos. 6 and 8.

Canary at top, dressed on a Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hook – size #1 8x long. Below are three Jungle Queen Streamers dressed on the same hook, a smaller size #6 – 8x long. Tied by Don Bastian.

Pink Lady (top) and Don’s Delight, both dressed on Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style streamer hooks, size #1 – 8x long. Tied by Don Bastian.

Canary and Davis Special, dressed on Gaelic Supreme Hooks – size #1 – 8x long. The shoulder is a little short on the Davis Special; this example is my first dressing of this particular pattern. Tied by Don Bastian.

Victory – size #2 – 8x long, tied by Don Bastian.

I tied this Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern up last night – the Victory. After a final (third) coat of head cement this morning it’s done. I’m getting it in today’s mail to Ted Patlen of New Jersey; Ted always does the framing of the flies every year for the raffle plate of flies for the International Fly Tying Symposium this November in Somerset, New Jersey. This year the Symposium is on November 19th and 20th. This is my donation fly for this year’s Celebrity Tier’s Fly Plate:

The Victory:

Thread: Red #56 or white #1 Danville Flymaster 6/0.

Hook: Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hook

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Red hackle fibers

Rib: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Red floss

Belly: White bucktail

Hackle: Red

Wing: Two light blue hackles flanked by two gray hackles

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Red, white, and blue, Danville 6/0 Flymaster thread (note: Danville no longer makes a blue thread in Flymaster 6/0)

The wing was cemented in my “new” fashion, (new for me anyway).  This was one of the four patriotic-themed streamer patterns that Carrie created in the 1940’s.

The Pirate Streamer, another Carrie Stevens creation, tied by Don Bastian on Size #1 Gaelic Supreme Streamer Hook.