Wheeler’s Ghost

Wheeler’s Ghost is an original streamer pattern I created last summer. It is one fly among a list of original patterns I developed that presently contains thirty-five Rangeley style streamers. These patterns are all themed on the Rangeley region; it’s history and personalities. Some are wet fly conversions that have not been previously done, like the Mooselucmaguntic and Magalloway, and others are my own inspiration, such as Bugbee’s Ghost. Frank Bugbee was the man who thought of the name Gray Ghost for Carrie Stevens’s most famous streamer fly, though she never named a fly after him. Hence my inspiration for creating Bugbee’s Ghost. Another Ghost pattern I created but have yet to tie is Carrie’s Ghost. In all there are four ghost patterns on my list. I’d like to continue tying these patterns, but trout season is upon us, and I’ve had fishing fly orders more or less streaming in. That’s a good thing. So for now the streamers will have to wait.

My inspiration for Wheeler’s Ghost is Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler, friend and fly tying mentor to Carrie Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine. Carrie created three patterns and named them after Shang Wheeler; the Charles E. Wheeler, Shang’s Favorite, and Shang’s Special. All three have shoulders of red dyed duck or chicken breast feathers, two have red floss bodies, the Shang’s Special has a red head with a black band. The Shang’s Special is unique among early streamer patterns with its jungle cock wing. I combined some of these features as components along with my ideas to create Wheeler’s Ghost. I believe it’s a safe guess that Shang liked the color red. Hence, Wheeler’s Ghost sports predominantly red colors.

Wheeler's Ghost

Wheeler’s Ghost – size #1 -8x long – Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style streamer hook. Originated, tied, and photographed by Don Bastian.

Wheeler’s Ghost

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Red hackle fibers

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Red floss

Underbelly: Four to six strands peacock herl; then white bucktail

Underwing: A golden pheasant crest

Throat: Red hackle fibers

Wing: Two grizzly hackles flanked on each side by one white hackle flanked by a jungle cock feather extending to hook bend

Shoulders: A red-dyed duck or hen breast feather

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Red

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Shang’s Special – Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern

The Shang’s Special rounds out the three streamer patterns created by Carrie Stevens and named after family friend Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler. The Shang’s Special is unique with its wing of long jungle cock feathers. In fact, dare I say Carrie Stevens was probably the first fly tier to employ the use of jungle cock feathers for the wing of a streamer pattern. The six-pound thirteen ounce record brook trout Carrie caught in July 1924 was recorded in the Upper Dam House log book as being caught on a fly named Shang’s Go-Get ‘um. Contrary to popular belief, she did not catch this trout on a Gray Ghost. The fly hooked in the jaw of the mounted trophy, done by taxidermist Herbert Welch, and presented to Shang Wheeler is a Shang’s Special. There is no record of a Shang’s Go-Get ‘um among Carrie’s patterns. The Hilyard book speculates that perhaps Shang’s Go-Get ‘um was possibly the original name of Shang’s Special. We will never know for sure. The Shang’s Special is a beautiful and unique streamer pattern. I admit I’ve never had one knotted to my tippet. Perhaps that should change.

hang's Special - size #4 - 8x long- Gaelic Supreme Martinek

Shang’s Special – size #4 – 8x long- Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Shang’s Special

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Underbelly: White bucktail

Underwing: Four to six strands peacock herl

Throat: White hackle fibers

Wing: A complete jungle cock feather equal in length to the underbelly and underwing

Shoulders: A red dyed duck or chicken breast feather

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Red with a black band

To view or purchase Don Bastian’s Carrie Stevens Collector’s Edition Set No. 2 of the three Charles E. Wheeler streamer patterns visit: http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-2-P690.aspx

Charles E. Wheeler – Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern

The Charles E. Wheeler is one of three streamer patterns that Carrie Stevens created and named after family friend, Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler. He was a client of Carrie’s guide husband Wallace, and he was also instrumental in the start of Carrie’s fly tying career. In fact Carrie may have never started tying flies had it not been for the influence and encouragement of Shang Wheeler.

Charles E. Wheeler

Charles E. Wheeler – Size #2 – 8x long Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Streamer hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Charles E. Wheeler

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Red floss

Underbelly: White bucktail

Underwing: Four to six strands peacock herl

Throat: White hackle fibers

Wing: Four dark gray hackles

Shoulders: A barred teal breast feather, then a red dyed duck or chicken breast feather about half the length of the barred teal

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black with a red band

Shang’s Favorite – Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern

Carrie Stevens created three streamer patterns for her friend Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler. It was Shang who in 1920, gave Carrie some long shank hooks, deer hair, and feathers and basically encouraged her to try her hand at tying flies. Not to use an oft-quoted and overused line, but I will: The rest as they say, is history. The three patterns she named after Shang are the Charles E. Wheeler, Shang’s Favorite, and Shang’s Special. Mr. Wheeler must have loved the color red, because all three flies have the common ingredient of red dyed duck or chicken breast feathers for shoulders. Together they make a beautiful trio of streamer patterns.

Shang Wheeler was an expert decoy carver, and never sold his work. He won the amateur division of the New York Sportsman’s Show decoy carving contest twelve years in a row. Whenever his decoys come on the market today, they bring ten’s of thousands of dollars. He also wrote the poem White-Nose Pete, and made the trout head carving of the same name.

I also note this is another pattern with an ingredient discrepancy in the written recipe in the Hilyard Carrie Stevens book. The Shang’s Favorite in that book was tied by Carrie, and the throat on her fly is not white, but clearly grizzly. I have made the correction here.

Shang's Favorite

Shang’s Favorite – size #1 – 8x long – Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Streamer hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Shang’s Favorite

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Red floss

Underbelly: White bucktail

Underwing: Four to six strands peacock herl

Throat: Grizzly hackle fibers

Wing: Four natural grizzly hackles

Shoulders: A red dyed duck or chicken breast feather

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black with a red band

Carrie Stevens Collector’s Edition – Set No. 2

Carrie Stevens Collector's Set No. 2 - The "Charles E. Wheeler" Set, featuring the three patterns designed by Carrie Stevens and named for her friend and fly tying mentor, Charles E. Wheeler, of Stratford, Connecticut.

This is the second set in an expanding series of Carrie Stevens Collector’s Edition streamer patterns that I am offering for interested collectors. This Set is now available for purchase on my merchandise page at: http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-2-P690.aspx

All orders placed at MyFlies.com for my merchandise are processed and shipped by me personally, so your order will receive my personal attention. Any additional requests may be included by adding a note to the order form at MyFlies.com.

This Set No. 2 features the three patterns named after a Stevens family friend, Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler. Each set comes with a letter of provenance listing the patterns, written on 24 lb., 25% cotton, Fine Granite watermarked paper, and is signed by me and numbered with a number 2 pencil.

The top photo illustrates the interior packaging. These sets come in a very nice white enameled gift box with a raised interior display panel. The inside is customized by me as shown, with gray card stock cemented to the panel, using acid-free cement, and then the streamer mounting cards are cemented as well. The flies are wired to the cards in the same manner that Carrie Stevens wired her flies to her packaging cards, at the hook eye and bend. Each set is consecutively numbered; I am pleased that Nos. 1, 2, and 3 are sold, interestingly enough to a decoy collector in Ohio. The reason for that is that Shang Wheeler was very well known as a decoy carver. He won the amateur division of the International Decoy Makers Contest, held at the National Sportsmen Show in New York City, for twelve years in a row. Mr. Wheeler is still highly-respected among the fans and devotees of waterfowl decoy carvers.

Don Bastian's Carrie Stevens Collector's Edition Set No. 2 Top Exterior Carton Label

Charles E. Wheeler Streamer, size #1 - 6x long.

These flies are all dressed on Gaelic Supreme Rangeley Style Streamer hooks, hand-made in England, and designed after hooks that were custom-ordered from Allcock in the 1930’s and 1940’s by Carrie Stevens. Check this link to Gaelic Supreme Streamer Hooks:  http://www.belvoirdale.com/Hooks.html

Charles E. Wheeler streamer - head, shoulder, & cheek macro. I like this fly because of the compound shoulder of teal and red duck breast feather, though I used Whiting American Hen Cape dyed red.

Shang's Favorite, size #1 - 6x long

Shang's Favorite - head, shoulder, & cheek macro

Shang's Special - head, shoulder, & cheek macro

Now I have to tell a story; if you look at this recent post: https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/fly-tying-weekends/ you will see the information that I tied these flies, 2 dozen in all; eight of each of these three Charles Wheeler streamer patterns at my cabin last weekend. I was with some of my best friends; we relaxed, hung out, tended the fire, enjoyed some libations (a balanced liquid diet of selected beers, Chianti and Chablis wines, and a little Jack, conveniently having at our disposal some beverages from the three liquid food groups: beer, wine, liquor. (Thanks to Sharon Butterfield, owner of MyFlies.com for that beneficial description). And we ate good food that we prepared ourselves. And yes, we tied some flies, all four of us.

The Shang’s Special as you see, according to Carrie Stevens’ original recipe, which I have followed, has a red head with a black band. Somehow I neglected to notice that fact while tying eight of them, even though I have tied this pattern previously, though never as many at one time as I did last weekend. Perhaps it was Jack’s fault. Nevertheless, when I started to take these photographs yesterday, I checked the Carrie Stevens…book for the recipes to type with the initial post, and suddenly realized I had messed up. Big time. I dressed the heads black with a red band. What to do? Well, after some thought, I took the first fly, placed it in my vise, and using my super-sharp mini-sized Swiss Army knife, I carefully sliced the head on one side, then peeled off the rest. I then re-wrapped it with red Danville Flymaster 6/0 and finished it with a narrow band of black, same manufacturer. It worked pretty well, so I was at it for an hour or so, repeating the process to repair the heads on all eight flies so that they would be correct. After all, these streamers are being specified by me in the promotional information as tied to “exacting specifications following the original recipes,” and it just wouldn’t do to have the heads wrong. Three coats of clear head cement later, and they were transformed.

Shang's Special, size #1 - 6x long

This is fun!

Charles E. Wheeler, Shang’s Favorite, Shang’s Special

This photo is of the two dozen Carrie Stevens streamer patterns that I tied at my family cabin over the recent three-day weekend spent there with some friends. I was primarily tying flies as evidenced by these photos. The hooks are what I prefer to use; the Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley style streamer hooks, made in England by Gaelic Supreme.

Left to right: Charles E. Wheeler, Shang's Favorite, Shang's Special; eight of each pattern, hook sizes are #1 - 6x and 8x long, and #2 - 8x long.

All three of these patterns were created in honor of Charles E. Wheeler, of Stratford, Connecticut. He was a family friend of Maine Guide Wallace Stevens and his famous fly tying wife, Carrie G. Stevens. His nickname was Shang, hence the Shang’s Favorite and Shang’s Special. The best source for information on Carrie Stevens is the book Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard, Stackpole Books, 2000 and 2011.

Fly Tying Weekends

I returned home yesterday afternoon after spending time at my family cabin with a couple friends for a long winter weekend. While we did not actually take any photos during our fly tying session last weekend, here are a couple photos from our January outing, taken by a friend with his new camera, during the last weekend of the Pennsylvania muzzle loader deer season on January 14th. We had seven guys in camp then, with three gunners, meaning they own the appropriate firearm and have the permit to legally harvest a deer. One of them killed a doe on Saturday afternoon, which means more venison!

My fly tying that weekend was focused on tying replicas of antique fishing flies to sell to fly collectors at shows. Specifically, I was tying snelled wet flies on blind-eye hooks. I used Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury as a reference source. The photos show my friend Truman, and me in the foreground, at our drop-down fly tying station. My paternal grandfather, whom I never knew, because he passed in 1946 before I was born, bought this property around 1915. It has been in my family ever since. I plan to photograph and add some pictures and recipes of the flies I tied during that weekend to this post later today.

This immediate past fly tying weekend, I was working on my next set of Carrie Stevens Collectors Edition streamer flies. This next set features the three patterns named after businessman / fly tier / decoy carver / story-teller Charles E. Wheeler, including his official namesake pattern the Charles E. Wheeler, along with Shang’s Favorite, and Shang’s Special. I have three of those sets already sold, and as I tied them in order, I figured to make a couple extra sets, and then I got on a roll and I made a total of eight sets – 24 streamers; three patterns, eight of each pattern. I will post them here today as well.

Don Bastian - foreground - and Truman McMullan tying flies at the Bastian Cabin. Photo by some guy who doesn't want his name on the internet. Lots of details and memories in the background; the small black and white photograph on the shelf to the left of the clock is my brother, Larry, and me in the garden at the Bastian Funeral Home in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, taken by my Aunt Freddie in 1964. That is the year we both started tying flies...my grandfather custom built - modified this cabinet / shelf / desk / bookshelf into and along the wall. The American Flag in the far side gun case is a pre-1958 48-Star Flag. For those of you too young to remember, or if you didn't pay attention in history class, that was before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted into "The Union." We still fly that flag on holidays. The clock is older than I am by a couple decades, and still keeps perfect time, and the Westminster chimes ring true. Note the Carrie Stevens streamers hanging up to dry on the support chain...

Another version of the photo above; note I have something in my mouth - my friends would say, there's always something in my mouth - FOOD! You know how your "friends" can tease...I am biting the tip of the silk gut leader material to flatten it prior to tying it to the hook. This flattens it and makes it wrap more smoothly and blend into the body of the fly.