Stanley Williams – Streamer Tier

Not long ago I made the online acquaintance of a young man from West Enfield, Maine, by the name of Stanley Williams. He ties a very nice replica, what I have seen so far, of Carrie Stevens streamer patterns. I thought I would share one of his flies here, the reason being that I think it is really great that a young fellow like Stanley has found the passion to continue the tradition of tying her patterns, and from what I have learned thus far, he is making every effort to do so in the true and correct historic fashion. I know he mentioned to me in an e-mail that he went to the former home of Carrie and Wallace Stevens in Upper Dam, Maine, set up an impromptu fly tying station in the form of two saw horses, and tied a Gray Ghost streamer in the back yard. That was a pretty cool thing to do.

Here are some images Stanley sent me of his rendition of Carrie Stevens’ Blue Devil.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams. Note the elongated head shape, which was the preference and style of head finished on original streamers dressed by Carrie Stevens.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams. Note also: the wing angle – the jungle cock cheek and center line of the stems of the shoulder and wing is slightly above the horizontal line of the hook shank. The length of the bucktail and herl underbelly is equally as long as the wing. These are proportion and material placement details of Carrie Stevens’s original Rangeley Style of streamer tying that some tiers overlook. Stanley has ’em down. 😉

Top view of Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams - showing near-perfect alignment of the wing assembly.

Top view of Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams – showing near-perfect alignment of the wing assembly.

Very nice Stanley! Keep up the good work!

PS: If memory serves, my blog articles may have had something to do with Stanley’s “conversion” to my preference to band the heads of the Carrie Stevens streamer patterns. While I know she stated the band was her signature of sorts, I believe the band color is moreover a part of the pattern design. Plus this significant fact: When Wendell Folkins bought her business in 1953, she insisted that he continue to include the banded heads and colors she created when tying her patterns, no doubt as a way to continue the “recognition” and signature of her original streamer patterns. Carrie Stevens also tied other popular patterns such as the Black Ghost, Colonel Fuller, Supervisor, and in some cases, she added a slight variation to the materials, and certainly in the tying style.

Colonel Bates

The Colonel Bates streamer is a Carrie Stevens pattern that she created in the early 1940’s to honor Joseph D. Bates, Jr., a friend and customer of both her and her husband Wallace, a Maine fishing guide. The Stevens’ lived and worked in Upper Dam, Maine, in the Rangeley Lakes Region between Mooselucmaguntic and Upper Richardson Lakes, for almost thirty years.

Joseph Bates wrote the landmark book, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, in 1950. The Colonel Bates started out as the Captain Bates, but as Bates’ Army rank advanced during World War II, likewise the rank of the fly was elevated as well. Packaged examples of the Captain Bates, Major Bates, and Colonel Bates exist.

Here is, Darren MacEachern’s photo of my rendition of the Colonel Bates streamer:

Colonel Bates –, Number 203 for July 21, 2012. photo by Darren MacEachern.

The Colonel Bates recipe as listed in Bates’ book has a shoulder of teal flank, and a tail of a section of red feather. The Hilyard Carrie Stevens book, lists the tail as red hackle fibers, with many examples of the fly tied by Carrie illustrating the red hackle fiber tail and gray mallard flank shoulders. It is possible Carrie dressed the pattern both ways. This one was tied by me about a year ago. The head on this specimen is red lacquer, with a black band also painted on. Since then, actually not long after a renewal of my personal tying of Carrie Stevens streamer patterns (a renewed fly tying genera and addition to tying wet flies), and beginning to band the heads again as I once did in the 1980’s for a short time, I have progressed to a method of using thread only, lacquered with Sally Hansen clear Hard-As-Nails to achieve a smooth finish on the banded heads that I believe are integral to Carrie’s pattern designs. That’s my preferred technique at the present time.

Wapsi Gloss Coat which I started using in June 2011 and until March of 2012, and initially loved, unfortunately turned out to provide great smooth coverage in three coats, but after two or three months, gets blotchy, milky-looking, cloudy, and gets a diseased appearance. I discovered this fact through trial-and-error, possibly caused because I used regular lacquer thinner to think the Gloss Coat. However even after the use of only Wapsi Gloss Coat Thinner in my Gloss Coat Cement, the problem remained. So that brand of head cement has fallen from my grace. Like things in life sometimes do; they look good initially and then turn out not so good. Live and learn. I love the smooth finish it produces, but Wapsi Gloss Coat for me is relegated only to fly heads that I will finish with black ProLak or another color of lacquer that hides the problem it apparently causes. Sorry Wapsi, but as a finishing head cement, your product is not so hot. I’m not going to devote serious time and effort to my fly tying only to have the heads ruined with a lousy finish. Onward…

Colonel Bates

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Red hackle fibers

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Throat: Brown hackle fibers

Wing: Two yellow hackles flanked on each side by a shorter white hackle

Shoulder: Gray mallard flank

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Red with a black band.

The Colonel Bates was the first Carrie Stevens pattern that I tied after the Gray Ghost. I first used it right out of high school, and caught trout on it in my area streams here in Pennsylvania. I also fished it on my trips to Maine that started in 1986, sometimes as small as a size #12 – 6x long. I’d add the Colonel Bates or a Black Ghost ina #10 or #12 behind a larger size streamer or Wooly Bugger in a tandem streamer rig. Effective! I can’t say why, but it generally seems a high percentage of fish taken like this hit the rear fly.

Carrie Stevens indicated that the Colonel Bates was her most popular pattern, second only to the Gray Ghost.