Perhaps an Indoor Day

Saturday Morning May 9th

I was watching “Chasing The Taper” and glanced out the window to see snowflakes flying. It was 27 degrees on my porch this morning when I ventured out to check around seven o’clock. May 9th, and there should be Hendrickson spinners swarming over the riffles this morning rather than snowflakes swarming here in Hancock.

It is supposed to warm all the way up to 38 today. The sunrise was pretty despite the chill, and I am thankful for each one I enjoy.

It seems like a good day for fly tying. My boxes are full, many of them overflowing, but I am drawn to the craft.

I already polished the Menscer rod this morning, a little thank you for the joy it gave me yesterday afternoon. It is important to care for these handcrafted jewels, particularly when fishing in the rain. I wiped it down when I put it in the Jeep of course, then again when I brought it into the house. The rod spent the night in the rack and was polished and returned to its tube this morning; ready to make another memory.

Fly tying, yes, and a chance to begin reading Ernest Schwiebert’s magnum opus “Trout” which arrived from a book dealer in California. My thanks to Planet Books for packaging it so securely and shipping so quickly.

A Visit with Mary Dette Clark, the Grand Lady of the Catskill Fly

My love affair with the Catskill dry fly began many years ago as a neophyte fly tier. Like most, I had some troubles with winging and proportions starting out. My flies didn’t look like the example photos, but they caught trout.

I really learned how to tie them properly on a weekend visit to Wally Vait’s On The Fly shop in Baltimore County. Wally had invited Catskill fly tier Larry Duckwall to demonstrate his art, and I was eager to learn. Larry had learned from Elsie Darbee, so he was a direct line third generation Catskill fly tier, and a very entertaining instructor. Sadly I have learned that Larry passed away in 2014.

Beginning with my first trip to Roscoe, New York in 1993, I made it a point to visit the Dette Fly Shop on Cottage Street, hallowed ground for fly fishermen. I was fortunate to meet and watch both Walt and Winne tying flies, and often stopped to spend an hour watching Mary tie and talking with her. She is one of the loveliest and most generous ladies I have ever met, and an absolute master at the vise. I fondly recall the kind compliment she offered when I displayed the Dette Coffin Fly I had managed to tie at my own vise.

My style of tying was modified somewhat through the teachings of Pennsylvania sage George Harvey, and has evolved using a variety of techniques learned in George’s class and book, building upon the Catskill foundation acquired from Larry and from watching Mary Dette during my Roscoe visits.

I offer my own simple video on tying Catskill dry flies in the hope that the results of my learning will be helpful to others.

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