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CatskilljonMarch 27th, 2014, 9:04 pm
Upstate NY

Posts: 160
According to John Atherton. Atherton, always the impressionistic tyer devised these two March Brown imitations utilizing seals fur and ribbing to get the point across.
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Like Flick he preferred heavily barred wood duck for the wings and mixed hackle. CJ
GusMarch 28th, 2014, 1:57 pm
colorado

Posts: 59
Beautiful work!
"How do you help that son of a bitch?"

"By taking him fishing"

-A River Runs Through It

www.jsrods.com
OldredbarnMarch 28th, 2014, 9:11 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
Beautiful work!


I'll second Gus' comments! Wonderful.

John, tell us a little bit about porportions on these classics. It may have been a while, if ever, that some of the younger members here have tied a classic Catskill tie.

I have Eric Leiser's bio of the Dettes and it is a very interesting read. I fear that we may have lost those good old fly shops that we used to visit where the air hung with river lore and tall tales, smelling of laquers and the owners own mixture fly flotant. Where you felt special and like you were part of the club when you showed up and the owner knew your name.

We still have a couple of the old shops up in Grayling, but the youngsters own and run them now...They are stretched between two worlds...One for the new generation of foot long articulated streames and plastic and foam, and one of whats left of the "old school" still dreaming of the perfect dun neck that has some feathers down somewhere near the size 20 hook range.

These are interesting times. It is good to see these old flies and to hear that some of the younger generation, say JohnW and Eric, are still trying their hand at tying them and fishing them.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
CatskilljonMarch 28th, 2014, 11:57 pm
Upstate NY

Posts: 160
John, tell us a little bit about porportions on these classics. It may have been a while, if ever, that some of the younger members here have tied a classic Catskill tie.


I think Harry Darbee described it best...

"Its characteristics a good sized hook, typically size 12 model perfect; a notably lean, spare body, usually of spun fur or stripped quill of peacock herl; a divided wing of lemon wood duck flank feather; and a few sparse turns of incredibly stiff, clean, glassy cock's hackle, mostly either blue dun or ginger. The wings and hackle are set back from the eye of the hook, leaving an unusually clean "neck" at the expense of a shortened body. This puts the sustaining hackle so close to the point of balance that the fly rides over broken, turbulent water like a Coast Guards lifeboat, so nearly balanced that often the tail of hackle wisk doesn't touch the water at all"




I notice that many of the "Catskill" flies I see in shops bins are heavily overdressed, partly because much of the tradition is lost through time and somewhat because when buying flies, buyers want heavy dressings. In really fast headwater streams, a bushy fly works very well for flotation [though I find that heavy dressings inhibit hook sets on the smallish trout we target in those waters!]

I usually use 10 turns of hackle which sounds like a lot, but its 5 turns for 2 feathers, and the hackle I use is more "old school" and not the densely fibered genetic hackle of today. Back when Harry was tying, you only had about an inch of good feather right at the tip, the rest was web. They sometimes used 3 or 4 feathers on a heavily dressed fly like the Coffin Fly or the Dun Variant.

Harrys description is good, almost perfect actually but glaringly obvious is the fact that he left out quill wings and floss bodies, and a host of other materials. I think it's a pretty accurate view of the Catskill style,
Anyway Spence, I know you asked for a "little bit" sorry to be so long winded! CJ
EntomanMarch 29th, 2014, 1:25 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Thanks, CJ. You are spot on.

Most of my standard ties are in the Catskill mold. I've found that on riffly water they usually outperform "modern imitations." If there's a breeze on a lake during a Speckled Spinner hatch or fall, give me a sparse Adams or Dk. Hendrickson over the parachute or no-hackle patterns every time. The heavily dressed commercial versions are the reason many consider standard collared flies inferior for hatch matching. Mayflies are delicate little creatures and the modern "bottle brushes" a lot of guys throw are better matches for weed seeds.:)

PS. A caution for the guys that haven't tried this style of tying but are about to. Cull your hooks! Open or rough edged eyes will give you grief if you don't. ;) Also be picky about your wing sets. The longer proportions will make the flies float on their sides if they are tilted off center or denser on one side.
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Jmd123March 29th, 2014, 1:32 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2440
I agree with Kurt. Most if not all of my mayfly dries are of the classic Catskill construction. I don't have any trouble getting the trout to take 'em, although as I have alluded to on here before my waters are not heavily fly fished so it doesn't take the latest pattern to fool most of them. In addition, I like the Wulff patterns too, having had a lot of luck with them over the years, especially on picky fish or when out after dark. They are of course more heavily dressed, but come in handy when one needs a more prominent silhouette or better flotation.

Just my 2 cents as usual...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
OldredbarnMarch 29th, 2014, 4:30 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
Anyway Spence, I know you asked for a "little bit" sorry to be so long winded! CJ


What do you mean, man?! This is the kind of discussion we hunger for sir. One of the nicer bits of our sport has always been the sharing of knowledge, the passing it down, and of course pretending that some of the spots we visit, or the flies we tie, are secret. ;)

Really. Thanks for sharing. Those are beautiful creations and a very big part of the history of American fly fishing.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
EntomanMarch 29th, 2014, 9:12 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Absolutely!
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
CrepuscularMarch 29th, 2014, 11:10 pm
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 919


These are interesting times. It is good to see these old flies and to hear that some of the younger generation, say JohnW and Eric, are still trying their hand at tying them and fishing them.

Spence


Yeah I still tie them and fish them, probably not enough though. I too like them in heavier water.

EntomanMarch 30th, 2014, 5:00 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Nice, Eric. Those are the proportions I use, albeit a few less turns of hackle. They are more in line with what I thought were Rube Cross's, who basically codified the Catskill style. Hooks with shanks 2x gap width - tails & wings = shank L. - hackle 1.5x gap width.

CJ - The roots of the Catskill style are fascinating. It is my understanding that Gordon and his protege Steenrod tied their rolled wings unsplit and angled back. It was Cross that added the split vertical wing, turle knot space at the eye and the conventional proportion ratios (as above) most commonly used today. It is also my understanding that the Dettes and Darbees closely matched his style as did Art Flick and his mentor Preston Jennings (though the latter two omitted the Turle gap). Where does Atherton fit into this? Ray Bergman used larger ratios too. Is there a connection there?
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
OldredbarnMarch 30th, 2014, 5:29 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
I have a copy of Reuben Cross', "The Complete Fly Tier". It's jammed with info. There is a picture in there showing him winding dubbing on silk and rolling it on his pant leg.

Materials, hooks, tying techniques, tools, etc. There is a picture of Darbee holding up a twenty pound salmon. Another picture has Reuben with a live rooster under his arm while inspecting one of the birds feather.

Good stuff.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
WbranchMarch 30th, 2014, 6:43 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2611
Here is a book some of you might like;

http://www.amazon.com/Founding-Flies-The-American-Influences/dp/0811708330

I actually found on the Internet the entire document. At the time I was unaware it was a recently published book. I'm so glad I found that out because I had planned to post the link to the document I found which would probably of gotten me in a pickle if the author found out about it.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
JOHNWMarch 31st, 2014, 8:30 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
While I don't have any photos readily at hand to share I always enjoy tying this style of fly and aspire to tie the perfectly proportioned catskill. My reasons for tying and fishing them initially was they were not the fashionable thing so in my twisted brain they were the change up from what everyone else was throwing. However it grew into an artistic thing. Now the well tied catskill is almost the highest form art (surpassed only by Full Dress Atlantic Salmon flies).
JW
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
WiflyfisherApril 1st, 2014, 11:28 pm
Wisconsin

Posts: 612
I love the Classic dries and I enjoy tying them. I also enjoy tying and fishing this...

I like the Wulff patterns too, having had a lot of luck with them over the years, especially on picky fish or when out after dark.



John S.
https://WiFlyFisher.com
WbranchApril 2nd, 2014, 1:19 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2611
Lovely example of a classic Wullf pattern and the Catskill style. What is the tail? Peccary? Wood chuck?
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
CrepuscularApril 2nd, 2014, 9:38 am
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 919
Nice thread. Makes me wanna fish these flies! Spring is trying to get here.


Nice, Eric. Those are the proportions I use, albeit a few less turns of hackle.


Thanks Kurt, That's those are the proportions I learned to tie. And yes this examle is a little heavy on the hackle. It's for a specific piece of water where a little extra helps. ;)

WiflyfisherApril 2nd, 2014, 6:50 pm
Wisconsin

Posts: 612
Lovely example of a classic Wullf pattern and the Catskill style. What is the tail? Peccary? Wood chuck?

Matt, woodchuck guard hairs.

CJ, ties an awesome Catskill dry fly!!
John S.
https://WiFlyFisher.com
Jmd123April 2nd, 2014, 8:29 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2440
That's a beautiful Wulff there, John! Yeah, I love 'em too, fish always seem to hit them pretty hard, it's not a subtle thing. My two faves are the White Wulff and the Royal Wulff, they've been key flies for me in many situations.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
SandflyJanuary 19th, 2015, 11:46 am
tioga co. pa.

Posts: 33
I still have an old time shop, just like the dettes and darbys had. in my house, stories and advise free of course.
sandfly
shop owner
N.J.B.B.A. #2215
Tiadaughton T.U. 688
I didn't Escape------They gave me a day pass !
GutcutterJanuary 19th, 2015, 7:12 pm
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Beautiful flies, CJ, Eric and John.
I have always held the opinion that the only time bronze mallard or wood duck represent an accurate wing color is for imitating March Brown and Grey Fox.
Some other traditional patterns (Quill Gordon, Light and Dark Hendrickson to name a few) also use this material for the wing.

Does anybody on this forum still tie on classic Catskill dry flies to actively feeding, large trout in slow pools on heavily fished waters? Is it your first choice?
If so, why?
If not, why?
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
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