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Post 05 Jan 2021, 10:20 • #1 
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Joined: 08/12/20
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Happy New Year all. My resolution is to attempt each of Carrie Stevens' ninety-three known fly patterns (it'll take me more than a year to tie them proficiently). I'm currently using a couple of texts, Graydon Hilyard's Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, and Sharon Wright's Heritage Featherwing Streamers, but I'm looking for other resources as well.

Does anyone have some suggestions for where I can learn more about Stevens' method and tying in the Rangely style?

Here are a few initial efforts at tying Stevens' patterns, a Firefly, Gray Ghost, Orange Miller, and a Green Beauty:






Last edited by rtrout42 on 05 Jan 2021, 10:38, edited 1 time in total.

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Post 05 Jan 2021, 10:36 • #2 
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Joined: 12/11/20
Posts: 206
Location: Dallas, TX
As a non-tying fly angler I’ll say keep up the great work! Those look great.


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Post 05 Jan 2021, 11:13 • #3 
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Joined: 04/20/07
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Location: US-ME
They look good ! Just a tip, because it looks like you tie very consistently. Before you tie too many, slick them in water and examine; then, work them in water as they would be worked in fishing. Even better, cast and "fish" them if you can't get out for real trial run. Doing this will reveal any problems in balance or components wrapping each other or the hook. You may find a little adjustment in tie-in position (top or bottom of hook shank), sparseness, or length of materials improves the action of the fly by pulse, sleekness, position when pulled vs. dead drifted, sink rate, and so on. Lots of those Rangeley patterns are smelt imitations and were often used in trolling, reducing the importance of some of these factors. Great patterns that sometimes need adjustment to work best as casting streamers, especially if fished in varying current.

I can't say by looking except that those look neatly and consistently tied, so any needed changes will not be to pattern but to the balance of materials. I'm sure you will be able to observe and implement changes better than I could. A pretty clumsy, sloppy tier these days, I usually resort to a failsafe of very, very sparse to ensure castability and ensure a half decent swim of the fly. You will do better than that, but mindful that many smelt patterns--those and others evolved from them--have been tied by some of the best in a very sparse style, for example, counting the number of throat fibers and using no more than six or eight.

I forget how Bob Leeman's book covers streamers, but he might be another good source.

Thanks for showing. Wish I could do that well anymore.


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Post 05 Jan 2021, 11:44 • #4 
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Great-looking flies!


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Post 05 Jan 2021, 13:59 • #5 
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Joined: 09/06/17
Posts: 102
Location: New Hampshire
Wow those are beautiful! I'm sure Carrie herself would approve. Glad to see someone trying to keep the old traditions alive, especially with streamers which sometimes can be neglected. Gotta say, her flies were more beautiful than the minnows they were meant to imitate--she was an Impressionist, in the best sense of the term, the Mary Cassatt of fly-tying.


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Post 05 Jan 2021, 15:50 • #6 
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Joined: 02/27/16
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Very nice,although i have not actually tied any of the CS patterns yet i do have most of the materials to do so.I also have Sharon Wright's book.Picked it up when we still had actual bookstores.Knew nothing about Carrie Stevens before the book. I became a big fan since then.The signature red stripe on the thread head is a nice touch.All i need is jungle cock but i will substitute starling on my early efforts .I do plan to tie some smaller versions for crappie and stocked trout this spring.


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Post 05 Jan 2021, 20:48 • #7 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/06/17
Posts: 1892
Location: South of Joplin
"Does anyone have some suggestions for where I can learn more about Stevens' method and tying in the Rangely style?''

I would suggest Col. Joseph D Bates, Jr., I believe was a contemporary and a friend of hers and I know he wrote books about streamers tying and fishing. She named a fly for him iirc.


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Post 06 Jan 2021, 08:04 • #8 
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Joined: 09/06/17
Posts: 102
Location: New Hampshire
The DEFINITIVE book on CS is "Carrie Stevens" by Graydon R. Hilyard (Stackpole 2000.) This is a beautifully illustrated book, partly a biography, but mostly a tribute and celebration of her tying, with recipes for all her trademark patterns. I can't recommend it enough, even for those who may not know much about her; it will enlarge your understanding of our sport.

I have a question. Her patterns are still favorites for brookies and landlocks in Maine; is anyone using them in other parts of the country? Ever use them on rainbows or browns? Just asking....


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Post 06 Jan 2021, 08:16 • #9 
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Bates. Great suggestion, and pretty much mandatory, not just on tying but on the other focus evident in his title, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing. Very glad someone remembered it when I didn't even think of it, yet it is at arm's length on my shelf. Didn't recall the Carrie Stevens connection but makes perfect sense as the fly tying/outdoor literature and magazine market was much more Eastern dominated at the time, just as until the waning years of the 'glass heyday. Sure, Joe Brooks loved term "bucktail," seldom used today, as in the title of another from Bates, Streamers and Bucktails.
The flies in these books are more or less from premaribou, presynthetic, pre-Clauser, pre-bead time when presentation was done by position, leader type, cast-entry point, mending, rod manipulation and so on--methods that prevailed in the fiberglass era (and bamboo). Thus, fly design was a more integral part of the presentation plan. Just as an example, I remember eagerly trying the "easier" and more readily available Mylar tinsel and then realizing what I needed to do to compensate for its reduced ruggedness and stabilizing weight the length of the body over metallic tinsel or ribbing.
I'm reluctant to reread those books now just to find out what I completely missed, let alone what I have forgotten. Probably have an old Colonel Bates fly someplace, well shredded by landlock salmon teeth.


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Post 06 Jan 2021, 09:21 • #10 
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Great insights WP.Good time of year to dive into some of this stuff.I no longer even engage non flyfishers who think a fly is just an imitation of a bug.There is a lot of thought and design that goes into even the most simple of flies.


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Post 06 Jan 2021, 21:05 • #11 
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Joined: 08/12/20
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Thank you for the suggestion, Trev. I just ordered a copy of Bates' "Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing"--seems like it will be a terrific resource.


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Post 07 Jan 2021, 00:17 • #12 
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Joined: 12/22/13
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Location: Colorado
I have both Bates books and the one by Sharon Wright, which are all very helpful. A couple others you may check are "The Classic Streamer Fly Box" by Mike Valla. Valla's book is more of a reference, not a technique guide, but contains beautiful photography and excellent historical and tying notes on 100 patterns, many of them Stevens originals. Also, try "Tying Classic Freshwater Streamers" by David Klausmeyer, which is a great technique and historical guide. Great color photography in this one, too. I enjoy fishing classic streamers and bucktails where I live in Colorado for warm and cold water species. The Grey Ghost and Platte River Special are my favorites. The Platte River Special is not a Stevens pattern, but is a classic feather wing streamer that imitates brown trout fry and is popular in the rockies, especially Wyoming. Thanks for sharing your photos-they look great!


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Post 07 Jan 2021, 08:00 • #13 
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Joined: 08/12/20
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Thank you for suggesting the Klausmeyer book--looks there are some copies available on Amazon!


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Post 07 Jan 2021, 09:59 • #14 
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Joined: 06/30/20
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WD68 - I believe that the smelt patterns that are shown here are not necessarily meant for a specific species to target. Meaning, they don't work differently for Browns, Bows, salmon or brookies. Its more about if the smelt are there. If they are there, then the target species should take the properly presented streamer imitation.

I'm currently reading "Flyfishing Northern New England's seasons" by Lou Zambello. He has TONS of info in there about streamer fishing with smelt imitations. I live in NJ, so much of the book does not apply to me. Nevertheless I got all excited to try out some smelt imitations in my area. Thankfully I researched it first and found out that we really don't have smelt as a forage fish this far south. Still, the book has been a great read. It has great flyfishing info for stillwater which is something I know very little about.


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Post 07 Jan 2021, 13:57 • #15 
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Joined: 09/06/17
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Location: New Hampshire
Mr. Jesse. Thanks for the suggestion, sounds like a valuable book, especially since I fish stillwaters more and more.


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Post 07 Jan 2021, 14:22 • #16 
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Joined: 08/12/20
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Whirlpool, I appreciate the advice about using the flies and adjusting balance of components for fishability/presentation. This will be important to do for sure. Regarding sparseness of materials, it's interesting to peruse the many Stevens-tied flies in Hilyard's book. Some of her patterns have very sparse buck tail while others are pretty thick. I am fortunate to have recently acquired a Stevens-tied Blue Devil from the Rangeley History Museum, and it has a significant belly. While Hilyard's book lists the typical material as buck tail, the fly I have actually has a goat hair underbelly; goat hair is more smooth and pliable than buck tail, and I imagine behaves differently in the water. It'll be fun to fish variations and discover how they work in the water! (I'm looking forward to a warmish day here in Vermont to make some casts!)



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Post 07 Jan 2021, 15:31 • #17 
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Joined: 11/06/17
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Location: South of Joplin
I think all the "bucktails" in the part of the NE where I learned to fish and tie flies actually used "kip" which some sources said was calf tail and some said was goat. The local source of tying materials was a bait shop and i don't think he actually had any deer tails, his main suppliers were Raymond Rumpf and Universal Vise.


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Post 08 Jan 2021, 07:46 • #18 
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Just looking over the flies that started this thread makes for a bright morning. Great point about kip. Dyed substitutes became common by, what, the 1970s or so? I know it was more or less automatic to use calf tail by the time I could tie a decent fly. I wonder if my first fly-tying starter kit from Herters, early 1960s, included any bucktail. I never carefully compared what few bucktail flies I tied with others tied with the usual kip. For a while there I had dyed up a lot of squirrel tail and used that for about anything. I had "perfect" yellow and red tails for the throat on a Barnes Special and experimented no more. I have an old time Rangeley area acquaintance who used to tie exquisite shadow boxed presentation flies as donations for various fundraisers, and am just hoping to bump into him again this spring. It is fun to think of all the experimenting with old patterns to be done anew today.


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Post 08 Jan 2021, 08:07 • #19 
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Joined: 10/23/08
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Location: Quincy, MA
https://globalflyfisher.com/streamer-ti ... gely-style
This is the tying technique. Mike Martinek used to recommend using an old bottle of nail polish which had gotten too dried out and thick to use as thread finish to glue the wing assemblies together.


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Post 15 Jan 2021, 05:50 • #20 
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Joined: 04/08/09
Posts: 666
Location: Vermont
You're killing it. Beautiful flies.


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Post 15 Jan 2021, 12:39 • #21 
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Joined: 07/05/10
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Location: Mid Hudson Valley of New York
Beautiful work. Love these. I am a fan of Carrie Stevens. Yours are very nicely done.

Here in upstate NY myself and a couple of fishing cronies swing smallish Grey Ghosts and Black Ghosts, #6-10, for trout in Catskill streams. They work. We also fish NYC watershed reservoirs from a boat. A #2 Grey Ghost imitates the primary baitfish locally known as "sawbellies" -- and is a go-to fly.


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Post 17 Jan 2021, 21:04 • #22 
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Location: Boston , MA

Give Selene Dumaine a call !!!


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Post 18 Jan 2021, 03:47 • #23 
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Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 798
Location: US-MI
To the original post, nice streamers. Great replies thus far to your search for information on Stevens patterns. Would also recommend the web page The Streamer List as a resource.

As for using Stevens patterns outside of Maine, have found that when tied in the appropriate size for the water you are fishing they do travel well. Have had success with the Grey Ghost and Black Ghost for example in many waters.

Images of streamers crafted by Selene Dumaine, Chris Del Plato, Mike Martinek and other masters are great sources of inspiration.


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Post 29 Jan 2021, 14:12 • #24 
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Joined: 08/12/20
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Mission accomplished.
All 93 of Carrie Stevens' known streamer fly patterns!



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Post 29 Jan 2021, 15:07 • #25 
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Joined: 11/06/17
Posts: 1892
Location: South of Joplin
Excellent.
That's a lot of junglecock, material I've never handled.


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