Published Jun 29. 2013 - 8 years ago
Updated or edited Oct 15. 2019

Vintage Streamers

I saw a post by Ted Patlen on a fly tying bulletin board. It was a simple post - a photo of a group of flies and a short statement stating his intention of tying the flies as close as possible to the way the originator tied the flies.

Vintage streamers
Bob Petti
His post stuck with me for awhile, before I got up the gumption to send him an email asking if he would be interested in submitting his flies to GFF for an article.

I have long been a student of classic fly tying - especially streamers and wet flies. I am not alone in that regard - as there has been an obvious resurgence in popularity of these flies as evidenced by numerous books, magazine articles, and web sites putting a new spin on a very old tale. While this is all good - I would hate to see these styles of flies go the way of greenheart rods and blueback trout - I have noticed that not all the tyers of these flies have a solid foundation in the history and original designs they are mimicking, and I'll admit it sometimes bugs me. To see a Carrie Stevens fly that is misproportioned with elements out of place, yet tied to surgical precision, irks me like a stone in my wading shoe.

I had those thoughts in mind when I saw a post by Ted Patlen on a fly tying bulletin board. It was a simple post - a photo of a group of flies and a short statement stating his intention of tying the flies as close as possible to the way the originator tied the flies. The selection was great - all the big names and styles were represented. The quality of tying was what you would expect from someone of Ted's caliber - well tied flies but tied for fishing in the way a commercial tier of the time would produce them.

His post stuck with me for awhile, before I got up the gumption to send him an email saying a) cool!, b) I appreciate his persistence in presenting the historical aspect of streamer fly tying, and c) I think what you are doing is worth sharing with a larger audience. In short, I asked if he would be interested in submitting his flies to GFF for an article showing in definitive fashion how these flies were offered by their originators - and how they should be tied today if people want to be historically accurate.

From Ted

I was asked to tie classic northeastern streamers/bucktails at the 2013 Swedish Fly Fair and chose these patterns to show a variety of styles besides the original look.

They are classics because of the problems solved by the original tyers. So why should I make them differently than they did? I am not going to improve upon the original ideas. Sure, I may adjust them a little to suit myself but not for presentation at a show. People deserve to see what the originals looked like, but also need to know why and how they wound up the way they did.

Were they tied for presentation as seen at most fly tying shows? Did it take 30 minutes to tie a fly? Were they highly polished, silk gloved entities we see across the internet and magazines? Of course not!!

How did Lew Oatman get those smooth tapered bodies? How did he apply the floss? Did he use single or multiple strands? Why did Carrie Stevens glue her wings together? Why is the head on Art Flick's Black Nosed Dace so huge when his dry flies are known for their sparseness and delicacy? Modder muddles are so different that people don't recognize the original.

My problem was to get my work to look very much like theirs, using similar methods, materials, and as many vintage hooks as I could. I found that if I functioned as a commercial tier would, fast with simple work habits, I got fairly accurate results.

All flies tied by Ted Patlen

Black Ghost

Originator: Herb Welch

Tail: Yellow Hackle Barbs
Rib: Flat Silver Tinsel
Body: Black Floss
Throat: Yellow Hackle Barbs
Wing: White Saddle Hackles (4)
Cheek: Jungle Cock

Black Nosed Dace

Originator: Art Flick

Tail: Red Wool Yarn, short
Rib: Oval Silver Tinsel
Body: Flat Silver Tinsel
Wing: Natural White Polar Bear, then Black Skunk or Bear, then Brown Bucktail (bottom to top)

Black and White

Originator: Austin Hogan

Tail: Red Hackle Barbs
Body: Flat Silver Tinsel
Belly: Pink Bucktail Throat: Red Hackle Barbs
Wing: White Hackles flanked on the outside by Black Hackles with the bottom of the hackle stripped
Shoulder: Black Duck Flank
Cheek: Jungle Cock

Brook Trout

Originator: Lew Oatman

Tail: Orange hackle barbs
Body: Read three fourths white floss, front one fourth salmon pink floss, tapered
Rib: Flat Gold Tinsel
Throat: Orange hackle barbs
Underwing: Sparse orange bucktail to the end of tail
Wing: Olive over grizzly hackles. The outer olive wing is spotted with red and yellow dots along the center stem.
Cheek: Jungle Cock
Head: Olive, with the bottom half painted white


Originator: Theodore Gordon

Tail: Red Hackle Fibers
Body: White Chenille
Rib: A single strand of Red Wool Yarn
Hackle: Four turns of large white hackle followed by four more turns of red hackle.
Wing: White Bucktail with slips of brown mottled turkey along the side and upper edge of the bucktail. The bottom half of the bucktail wing is cut square half the wing length.

Cain's River Silver Doctor

Originator: Fred N. Peet and C. Jim Pray

Tail: Matched sections of barred woodduck
Body: Flat Silver Tinsel
Wing: Brown hackle outside of which is grizzly hackle extending well beyond the tail
Hackle: A full collar in front of the wing comprised of a few turns of French Blue followed by a few turns of Grizzly.

Chief Needahbeh

Originator: Chief Needahbeh

Head: Black
Tail: A section of red duck or goose quill
Body: Red Silk. Tthe original version has a red hackle "throat" one third of the way forward on the body.
Rib: Narrow Flat Silver Tinsel
Throat: A red saddle hackle tied on as a collar after the wing has been applied. It is dressed rather full.
Wing: A red saddle hackle on each side of two yellow saddle hackles.
Cheeks: Jungle Cock

Edson Dark Tiger Bucktail

Originator: Bill Edson

Head: Yellow
Tail: The tips of two extremely small yellow neck hackles, back to back
Body: Wound with fine yellow chenille
Throat: The tips of two extremely small red neck hackles
Wing: A small bunch of the brown hair from a bucktail dyed yellow, extending just beyond the bend of the hook.
Cheeks: Gold metal "Edson" cheeks

Green Beauty

Originator: Carrie Stevens

Head: Black (original with signature red band)
Tag: Four or five turns of narrow flat silver tinsel
Body: Dressed thin with orange floss
Rib: Narrow flat silver tinsel
Throat: An extremeley small bunch of white bucktail extending beyond the barb of the hook, under which is a golden pheasant crest feather as long as the shoulder and curving upward
Wing: Five or six strands of bright green peacock herl, over which are four olive-green saddle hackles
Shoulders: Woodduck Flank
Cheeks: Jungle Cock

Hewitt Streamer

Originator: Ed Hewitt

Head: Black
Body: Narrow slip of red duck quill
Tail: Red Hackle Barbs
Rib: Narrow flat silver tinsel
Wing: Silver Badger, long
Cheeks: Jungle Cock

NOTE: Ed Hewitt was known for using what many may think as undersized hooks on his flies - such as his Neversink Skaters and the streamer shown here. This was a size 16 up-eye sproat-bend dry fly hook.

Jesse Wood Streamer

Originator: Jesse Wood

Head: Black
Tail: A narrow section of red duck wing quill, rather long
Body: Flat Silver Tinsel
Rib: Oval Silver Tinsel
Throat: Furnace hackle tied around the hook and bunched downward, short and thinly dressed.
Wing: Two Bali Duck shoulder feathers extending just beyond the tail.
Cheeks: Jungle Cock

Ken Lockwood

Originator: Rube Cross

Head: Black
Body: Scarlet Floss
Rib: Flat Silver Tinsel
Throat: White bucktail, as long as the wing
Wing: Blck Bucktail

Morning Glory

Originator: Carrie Stevens

Head: Black (original with signature red band)
Tag: A few turns of flat silver tinsel
Body: Red Floss
Rib: Flat Silver Tinsel
Throat: White bucktail beneath which is a black silver pheasant crest feather and then a very small bunch of blue hackle fibers.
Wing: A black silver pheasant crest feather as long as the saddle hackles and curving downward, over which are four bright yellow saddle hackles.
Shoulders: Red Mackaw body feather
Cheeks: Jungle Cock

Muddler Minnow

Originator: Don Gapen

Head: Black
Tail: A small section of natural turkey wing quill, slightly longer than the hook gap
Body: Flat gold tinsel
Wing: A moderately large bunch of gray squirrel tail on each side of which is a fairly large section of natural turkey wing quill tied on nearly as long as the squirrel tail
Shoulders: Natural deer hair, spun on to surround the hook, flatted and clipped short at the front and tapering long backward, leaving a small part as long as possible. Read much more here.


Originator: Joseph Stickney

Head: Black
Tail: A thin section of red wool, rather short
Body: Embossed silver tinsel
Rib: Oval Silver Tinsel
Throat: A small bunch of white hackle fibers
Wing: An extremely small bunch of white bucktail, over which are four very light blue saddle hackles, both extending well beyond the tail.
Topping: Six or seven strands of peacock herl, as long as the wing
Shoulders: Pale green shoulder hackle, two thirds as long as the wing.
Cheeks: Jungle Cock

York's Kennebago

Originator: Bert Quimby

Head: Black
Tag: Three or four turns of narrow flat silver tinsel
Tail: Golden Pheasant Crest, curing upward
Butt: Two or three turns of scarlet silk
Body: Flat silver tinsel
Rib: Oval Silver Tinsel
Throat: A small bunch of red hackle fibers
Wing: Four golden badger hackles with a pronounced black stripe, longer than average
Topping: A small bunch of red hackle fibers
Cheeks: Jungle Cock


My tying skills are ...

My tying skills are so mediocre my muddlers have and always will be shaggy Gapenesque type monstrosities, that although not a whole lot to look at, LL salmon and Brook trout dont seem to mind here in the streamer capitol of the world my beloved Maine.

I recently acquired ...

I recently acquired several streamers...a "Polar Bear" pattern signed by Bert Quimby as well as some "York's Kennebago", "Chief Needahbeh" and "Bonbright Ross McKenney" some of these streamers are on cards which read Genuine "Irresistible" Lures, while others are simply in cello wrap pacs. They came with several wet fly packets of 12 #16 flies made in Czechoslovkia circa 1950's. Any comments regarding these flies will be appreciated.

timo, yeah the or...


yeah the original muddler is nothing like todays stuff...people have adapted them for themselves and different applications that the original was intended for. the muddler was at first tied to sink as fast as possible and imitate a wide body sculpin. the original's wide sparse collar and heavy hooks represents this fish well.

florian...yes many of those very long shanked hooks were for trolling or just hanging off the end of a canoe when anchored...these flies are just examples of how some of the original flies were tied mainly to imitate smelt.

VERY well done Bob! ...

VERY well done Bob!

Great looking flies ...

Great looking flies Ted and good approach to tying them. I did a similar thing for a muddler article couple years ago tying one like the modern standard and one more closely to original. I think that pattern is probably the best example of what you are talking about.



Nice ones :) For a ...

Nice ones :)
For a while the grey ghost was a standard I tied and fished, but did away with it, From a catching point of view a downsized clouser (size 8; white arctic fox,a hint of flash and grey squirrel) is better and the tying is by far not as time consuming.
In my understanding quite a few of these patterns, the one on the very long shanked hooks, are more for trolling from a canoe than for casting.

fave flies...

Got to love these old streamer patterns, many from Maine! Like Cain's and all are nicely tied.


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