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> > Dear Catskill Style tiers.....

ByhaughApril 22nd, 2014, 5:52 pm

Posts: 56
Do any of you believe that such patterns rest on the water without the hackle tips penetrating the meniscus and becoming, in effect, a comparadun in terms of floating with the body on the surface and the hackle at 90 degrees helping it stay afloat??

CatskilljonApril 22nd, 2014, 7:17 pm
Upstate NY

Posts: 160

I defy anyone to convince me that even the freshest fly, stiffest hackle and lightest drop to the water will result in the fly body above the water standing on its hackle tips and tip of tail, with the hook resting on the surface film. I have dropped hundreds of dry flies in pails of water from distances of 2 inches to 3 ft, and only a couple actually stayed on the hackle tips. This of course is a scenario that cant be duplicated in nature, because water moves in the stream and a leader is helping to pull the fly down making the "standing proud" trick even more difficult.

Some of the small variants, with thread bodies on #16 hooks will stand above water, but even then not for long.

I don't know where your going with this, but this is what I have found after fishing these for many years and hearing all the stories about how they "should" float. CJ
JOHNWApril 24th, 2014, 4:36 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
I'll second that although use of hydrophobic agents MAY aid in standing proud.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
ByhaughApril 24th, 2014, 8:50 pm

Posts: 56
Here is "where I was going with this"....
Even Leonard said that the Catskill style dries floated in the "float-line" configuration with hackle tips ON the meniscus.

How did all these folks gain such reputations and how did they form such views??
WbranchApril 24th, 2014, 10:29 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Not wanting to be a ball buster but what difference does it make if the hackle barbules do, or don't, break the menicus? I could care less. I've been tying dry flies for over fifty years and maybe once or twice in all those fifty years did I ever try floating a fly I tied in a vessel of water to determine if the barbules sat on, or broke through, the meniscus.

I've caught thousands and thousands of larger 15" - 24" wild trout on dry flies and none of them ever rejected my flies due to hackle barbules breaking through the surface film.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
TctroutApril 25th, 2014, 8:38 pm
Posts: 28Great thread, and I love how CJ asked people to "defy" him! BTW, I won't go there, John...

With that said, regardless of our perceptions of Catskill dry flies, they simply have (and will always) caught fish. Other patterns, such as parachutes and comparaduns, will do the same, though each has their setting in which we believe them to be most effective.

CatskilljonApril 25th, 2014, 9:14 pm
Upstate NY

Posts: 160
Great thread, and I love how CJ asked people to "defy" him! BTW, I won't go there, John...

HA! I hope you guys don't get the wrong idea about me, I am really a gentle, loving person :).

This has been a long running topic with some friends and I. My initial argument was if the body didn't touch the water, why be so concerned that the dubbing changes to a darker shade when wet?

Then there is the inevitable, the rough water drift. How on earth could any fly stand above the surface on its hackle tips and tail without the body touching the water! And then, if rough water wasn't enough... that dog gone leader forever succumbing to gravity pulling the eye of the hook down! Its sometimes difficult to keep a fly above the water at all, let alone expect it to float above the surface entirely!

I don't get all upset about it, its just physics really. You have a steel hook, some chicken feather fibers and thread trying to hold it up and a surface that's moving and varying with currents pushing and pulling...things don't always work in reality like you hoped they would in your mind! CJ

ByhaughApril 26th, 2014, 3:42 am

Posts: 56
I guess I wasn't clear.
I fish all styles of flies, including a more modern version of the Catskill style.

My point is not whether they fool fish...they do.

My wonderment is why there exists this myth that they float on the tips of the hackle.....much like the famous Royal Wulff "did" on the old Dan a Bailey catalogs?

And why, even someone like Leonard said they floated without the ka kale penetrating the surface.

To me, they, in essence, were comparadun-like patterns. The hackle at 90 degrees from the body helped the fly float, along with the body itself.

I think trimming away all the hackle beneath the body would produce the same ultimate effect.

EntomanApril 27th, 2014, 4:09 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
This myth from days of yore was based on the premise that since the typically sized mayfly suspends its body from the surface, so should the hackles of a proper imitation. Both are patently false in the vast majority of circumstances. Why did it take hold? Perhaps because it is very difficult to discern this with the naked eye (keep in mind that our forbears didn't have access to macro photography) and that occasionally mayflies can and do keep their bodies above the surface.

Once a falsehood is generally accepted, it is very hard to dispell and is often passed on by unoriginal "experts" for generations as a given. Such is the case with this one, though for at least since the publication of Selective Trout more than 40 years ago, I'm not aware of any true "expert" that still holds to it...

As for the ridiculous canard of testing the floating capabilities of flies by placing them in a glass of water - complete nonsense. The tension on such a small surface area of water undisturbed by current or wind is many degrees of magnitude greater than what's found in nature - unless one restricts their fishing to flooded hoofprints on dead calm days. You can float a damned bare hook in a glass of water with the right circumstances.:)

As an aside, I have fished quite a bit with wingless spider/variant styles of fly in the past. They will/can float on their hackle tips (at least for a cast or two) until you hook a fish. They can be quite effective and even out fish a flusher floating style at times. However, they're such a pain in the butt to keep floating that way that I haven't bothered with them for many years.
"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
ByhaughApril 27th, 2014, 10:47 pm

Posts: 56
Appreciate that. Agree with nearly all of that.

However, I cannot believe that astute folks like Leonard, Darbee, Walt, Winnie, and Mary Dette never observed their flies up close in the water or never dropped one in a bowl of water.

And the Dan Bailey catalogs?? I can only surmise that some folks were consciously trying to deceive....And, if so, for what earthly reason ?
The flies work. They float well (although not on hackle tips (for long )), and they catch fish.

Then, my question is, why was the haystack/comparadun such a discovery? As I said, you could Just as effectively clip the hackle flush on a Catskill pattern and, except for material, you have a comparadun.
WbranchApril 28th, 2014, 7:18 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Byhaugh wrote;

Then, my question is, why was the haystack/comparadun such a discovery? As I said, you could Just as effectively clip the hackle flush on a Catskill pattern and, except for material, you have a comparadun.

Your analogy is akin to saying if I took the insignia off a Cadillac and put them on a Chevrolet then I'd have a Cadillac.

The comparadun is significantly different than a traditional Catskill pattern. There was never, ever, a Catskill pattern tied with split tails. As far as I can see from the writings and pictures of the early flies from tiers like Dette, Darbee, Flick, et al they never tied a hair wing in such a manner than the wing was splayed fan like across the front of the fly. Yes there were divided hair wings and I guess some post style hair wings but I've yet to see a Compara-dun wing style on any flies tied before Betters or S&R.

Actually if you clip the hackle flush from the bottom of the fly you are more imitating a Marinaro style thorax dun than a Compara-dun.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
ByhaughApril 28th, 2014, 10:40 pm

Posts: 56
I was simply pointing out that the support of a Catskill style fly is, in my opinion, the tail, body, and material extending out 90 degrees from the body. Whether that material be deer hair or hackle. It certainnly is not supported by hackle tips resting on the surface of the meniscus.

And I don't understand how folks still refer to them "riding high on the surface".

I am also wondering about the stressed importance of Catskill proportions. And the mythical "float line". If they do not float on their "yippie toes", what is critical about the proportions?

Would appreciate knowing the answers.
EntomanApril 28th, 2014, 11:00 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Well, there is something about a collar hackled fly that while not necessarily floating higher seems to float longer and better for mysterious reasons. At least that's what I've generally observed...

As for proportions, the stress on them has to do with balance & esthetics. Not that you can't go outside them and still have it.
"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
ByhaughMay 5th, 2014, 12:12 pm

Posts: 56
If you read page 301 of their book "Hatches", you will read them saying that they have gone MORE to the hackled Compara-dun than the deer hair flared Compara-dun. They also mention cutting the hackle collared Hacke Compara-dun flush on the bottom........
WbranchMay 5th, 2014, 7:52 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Hey Byhaugh,

We all have opinions and you know how that cliche goes. So for me it's potatoe and for you it's potata. As long as we have confidence it the flies we tie that is what really counts. I was just sharing my opinion a little too facetiously.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
ByhaughMay 5th, 2014, 8:32 pm

Posts: 56
No problem Wb

Been tying 40+ years and still trying to learn. Keep going back to some of the "founding Flies" and testing their observations against my own.
I see similarities between their conclusions and some of my own. But, if I see something that doesn't ring true (flies floating on their tippie toe hackle tips)
ByhaughMay 5th, 2014, 8:52 pm

Posts: 56
I don't buy the "floating on hackle tips".
CatskilljonMay 6th, 2014, 11:03 pm
Upstate NY

Posts: 160
And the Dan Bailey catalogs?? I can only surmise that some folks were consciously trying to deceive....And, if so, for what earthly reason ?

I didn't take it like that, its more of a sexy photo if the fly is cocked up like that showing the entire fly. Not much different from all the fish pictures you see of guys holding trout with outstretched arms [man that dude has big fingers!] to "show the fish" better.

I think it was Schwiebert's book that I read it for the first time, how his fly was "lightly" touching the surface on its hackle tips...I was all disgusted with myself for tying un-Schwiebert like flies that didn't float above the water! Then I started testing them, a drop in the bucket sort of test and I realized that it wasn't my flies at was Schwiebert's poetic waxing!

While clipping the hackle would produce the same actual effect than without clipping it, there is a look to the fly that in my opinion should be maintained, that Catskill look. Clipping hackles is not a Catskill thing! CJ
CatskilljonMay 6th, 2014, 11:53 pm
Upstate NY

Posts: 160

I personally feel that it does happen in about a 70% chance maybe even more.

Ohhhh buddy, that's not something you would want to put money on. Its simple really, tie a few on next time your on the water. Cast upstream and wait for them. I didn't just use a bucket when I tested them :)

History tells us LaBranche was one of the top casters of all the Catskill greats. But even he wouldn't have been able to land one of his Pink Lady's on the Willow body up.

While I feel like you do in respect for my Catskill hero's, what they gave us is a tradition of fishing, tying, stream craft and stories that will forever be told and passed on. Sometimes these stories and descriptions were not completely true but they can be interpreted anyway we like. I wouldn't change a word of it, even if the flies dont float like they say. CJ
EntomanMay 7th, 2014, 9:46 am
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Well put, CJ. You can wax poetic a bit yourself. ;)
"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

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