Fanwing Royal Coachman and Royal Coachman Wet Fly

I recently finished an order of Fanwing Royal Coachman dry flies and some Royal Coachman wet flies along with the drys. The Fanwing Royal Coachman was among the most popular of all fanwing patterns, which grew to popularity in the late 1920’s. A wide variety of existing dry fly patterns were adapted to fanwing versions, largely due to their popularity. Fanwings remained popular through the 1950’s and even into the early 1960’s. The Fanwing Royal Coachman remained on Ray Bergman’s “Favorite List of Dry Flies” in all three of his trout fishing books, covering a time span of twenty years.

I tied my first Royal Coachman nearly fifty years ago, and it was a favorite top-water pattern of mine. See also:  https://donbastianwetflies.com/2011/02/08/fan-wing-royal-coachman-dry-fly/

There’s a few fish stories in that older piece that do not need to be repeated here. Instead I’ m posting these photos:Royal Coachman FW and Wets 003Size #8, #10, and #12.

Two dozen Fanwing Royal Coachman Drys, #8, #10, and #12.

Two dozen Fanwing Royal Coachman Drys, #8, #10, and #12. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

And the forerunner to the dry fly Royal Coachman, the Royal Coachman wet fly:

A dozen Royal Coachman wet flies, #6 and #8, carded up to make them look nice.

A dozen Royal Coachman wet flies, #6 and #8. I tied the wings on these in the old-school- traditional style that was popular in the 19th century.

The original version of the Royal Coachman wet fly had a tail of barred wood duck, but the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918 put an end to that. I’m guessing at that time the present golden pheasant tippet fibers for tail came into use for this pattern, since wood ducks, hunted to near-extinction, along with the wide-scale 19th century logging that severely reduced their favored nesting sites – tree cavities, were given national protection and were not legally hunted nationwide until 1959.

All carded up to make them look nice for my customer.

All carded up to make them look nice for my customer.

Hackles on the wets are hen, wound as a collar. White duck wing quill sections on the wet flies, and white male wood duck breast feathers on the fanwings. There are tinsel tags on both dry and wet patterns, and the body is red floss and peacock herl.

Advertisements

The Fly Young Knight

The Fly Young Knight is a poem that was written by Frederick L. Whiting in 1927. It was copyrighted and made into 12″ x 22″ posters in 1950. As I understand, the original with mounted wet flies, hangs in the Adirondack  League Club clubhouse in New York. According to their website, there is an address in Old Forge, New York, but that is a PO Box and I am uncertain of the actual clubhouse location. This group is open to membership, and is dedicated to “the preservation and conservation of the Adirondack forest and the propagation and proper protection of fish and game in the Adirondack region.”

A copy of The Fly Young Knight also hangs in The Angler’s Club of New York. According to the writer, this whimsical poem was written about the Gray Knight, an old wet fly pattern given a mythical life in verse as the Gray Knight, with this distinction in the second line of the poem: “Emblazoned on his shield he bore a Parmacheene Belle.” Thus the poem continues with more fly patterns named as the tale unfolds.

When Jim Deren, owner of The Angler’s Roost in Manhattan passed away in 1983, Judith Bowman and Hoagy Carmichael, Jr., cleaned out Jim’s shop and his infamous “backroom.” They found a stack of rolled poster copies of The Fly Young Knight, and decided to engage a fly tier from Massachusetts to make ten sets of the flies, then mounted and framed them and sold them at a sale for $250.00. That was in 1985.

I never heard of The Fly Young Knight until last summer when a friend sent me a copy of the poem in the mail as a surprise gift. I recently tied the patterns for a customer in Connecticut, he was going to mount the flies himself. I took photos of the patterns and have copied The Fly Young Knight into a computer file with the intent to post the poem and fly photos inserted among the verses on the blog. Here it is:

The Fly Young Knight

by Frederick L. Whiting

Forth to the fight a good

Gray Knight

rode manfully and well.

Emblazoned on his shield he bore a

Parmachenee Belle

 

And from his tried and trusty lance there glittered in the sun

A gaudy

Alexandra

and a

Pale Blue Evening Dun.

From which you’ll please to understand, don’t fail to get this right,

The flies were on his armor, but there was none on the

Gray Knight.

 

No heed he gave to life or limb, nor fear lest he might fall,

He’d often fought in

Beaverkill

and also

Montreal.

Two squires attended his needs and with him cast their lot,

The one a

Royal Coachman

and the other

Jock Scott.

They polished off their golden spears; they oiled their gear and tackle.

And on their silken bonnets wore a

Bucktail

and a

Hackle.

The banner each one held aloft, renowned in song and story,

Was garnished with a

Katydid

beneath

Greenwell’s Glory.

Two husky heralds named

Cahill

made all the welkin ring,

And from a wood hard by appears a dashing

Grizzly King.

With haughty mien he makes salute, his plume waves in the wind,

While he defies the world to match the charm of

Jenny Lind.

What ho! Responds the proud

Gray Knight,

none ever yet heard tell

Of a maid so fair as can compare with

Parmachenee Belle.

Quick to the list these champions, their sturdy charges drew,

While overhead

Jungle Cock

and

Scarlet Ibis

flew.

Each laid his trusty lance in rest and dashed across the flat

When in the eye of

Grizzly King

there flew a fierce

Black Gnat.

This put his optics out of whack, he tumbled in the dirt.

He “bust” the buttons off his pants and split his undershirt.

So when he loudly yelled for help and made a great to do

They brought him a

Professor

and a

Silver Doctor

too.

Their ministrations hurt him so he gave them both a kick,

And for a fee he handed each a

Cowdung

on a stick.

In kicking them he hurt his toe which made him more forlorn

They put

Blue Jay

plaster then upon his knightly corn.

The wrathful

Grizzly King

was placed in bed attended by his daughters,

And she who bathed his injured eye was called the

Queen of Waters

Moral:

This goes to show that knights of old when walloped in the eye

Would belly ache about their pain like any other guy.

The Fly Young Knight, written, 1927, by Frederick L.Whiting. 1950 is the copyright date on the poster.