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catskilljohn

Some food for thought

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This is from a friend of mine, and his opinion of whats happening today with Classic/old flies and there nick-names. I agree with him, and thought I would pose this question here because of the many talented tyers that replicate these flies. How do you feel about this? CJ

 

"For some reason there seems to be this custom of late, as to referring to wet flies by the name of the Author of a book in which someone sees them in.

 

For the last several years I have endured hearing the label of "Bergman Flies" as some sort of proper title, for the flies that are pictured in Ray Bergman's book "Trout."

 

Now, we seem to be headed down that same erroneous path with blind eye wet flies being referred to as " Mary Orvis Marbury Flies" or "M.O.M. Flies" for short, for the flies that are pictured in "Favorite Flies and Their Histories."

 

Please, let us not loose sight of the full heritage of these flies, by addressing them according to which "popular" book they are listed in.

 

There are many books in which these patterns appeared, both in the last 2 centuries as well as in the infancy of this current century.

 

A "Parmachene Belle" is a "Parmachene Belle", a "Red Ibis" a "Red Ibis" and so on.

 

Look I understand what some of the tiers of today are trying to communicate when they use such labels, BUT, that does make it right or proper.

 

It also IMHO "dis-honors" the originators/creators of those individual patterns. It starts the process of "removing" the history of the pattern.

 

One of the great joys I get in tying what some may call "vintage" patterns, is spending time doing some research into the origin of the pattern. Many times I have been surprised to learn that a pattern was named after a club member, or a politician, or a region etc. and by following that trail of information I have un-covered some more patterns that have just about become obscure and might vanish.

 

This sport/art form has a wonderful heritage, let us always try our best to preserve it, I believe we are debtors to those of the past, let us honor them and learn not only from them, but also about them."

Edited by catskilljohn

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I agree with your friend. I always try to give the full name of the fly I've tied and then subtitle it "MOM style" or something like that.

 

Charlie Vestal

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Very good thoughts. I can but agree the origins of a fly can be lost quite easily . It`s just as easy to say a fly is a certain style without accrediting it to a paricular person

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Can't disagree with those sentaments. I am guilty of pigeon holeing flies like calling certain streamers Rangeley Style if they resemble the flies tied by Stevens, Quinby and their contemporaries. Same goes for the so called MOM style flies. I just associate a "style" to them as were presented in The Orvis book. I guess some of us just aren't historians and myself, I couldn't tell you who orginated one of the flies in her book if my life depended on it.

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Hi John:

 

I loosely agree with the basic premise of your post with the exception of your use of the word "dis-honors".

 

Holding the greatest majority of tyers who post here in the most favorable light, I suggest that in most cases full and accurate acknowledgements were lacking as a result of

 

- honest mistakes and oversights

 

- lack of references

 

- less than full interest of or engagement into the historical aspects of these flies

 

I hope that although we tyers have different motivations, that a fission doesn't occur creating succinct and separate "all or nothing" schools of tyers( I know you are not suggesting this). Having stated this, I certainly understand and appreciate the research, work, pride and attention to historical detail that many Classic tyers strive to achieve.

 

dg

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I'm not sure I fully agree with the premise. In the salmon fly world, many flies are tied as described in reference to specific books - Kelson, Pryce-Tannatt, Francis Francis, etc. "A Black Doctor as listed in Kelson", for instance. There is often a style difference between the books. I believe the same applies here, except that many omit the "as described in". I don't believe anyone is claiming MOM or Bergman were the originator of these flies. Rather, they are documenters of flies - and their books have become reference texts we refer to when we're saying we are tying a fly "as documented in these books".

 

If there were multiple references for these classic wet flies, especially if each had stylistic differences or even differences in the pattern itself, I'm sure people would be more prone to say "Red Ibis as listed in Bergman". A MOM fly indicates a particular style of tying. If someone says "Silver Doctor", you need to specify further. Saying "MOM Silver Doctor" adds clarity.

 

I agree that preserving the heritage of the flies is important. That is why people should actually read Ray Bergman's book, and Mary Orvis Marbury, (and Col Bates and many others) rather than just skipping to the pattern listings. Saying "MOM fly" actually connects the fly to history, rather than removes it, imho. At least you know where the pattern and style were taken, and anyone interested can actually read the book. Adding "Bergman" and "MOM" provides context.

 

To say "Silver Doctor as tied by such-and-such guide on such-and-such lake in the late 1800's and documented in MOM book" is not really practical. Saying "MOM Silver Doctor" accomplished the same.

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Labeling a fly as a Bergman or a MOM is just shorthand for saying "as found in" and in no way diminishes the originator, if indeed we actually know who that is. It's the same as referring to something as Victorian, Edwardian, Abstract, Impressionistic or Art Deco.

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On the contrary, catskilljohn. Though not without occasional error, MOM and Bergman are a couple sources where our heritage has been preserved; both books are replete with discussions of flies origins. I believe our rich heritage is already comfortably safe, secure and in no danger. Indeed, if anything, it has been made safer by the dedicated tiers here and elswhere hovering over their vises, MOM, Bergman, Leonard and others, at hand.

Additionally, citing the source can lead to wonderful discoveries. See this past post for example:

The Dandy - Black Duke

Alec

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Great topic and agree with much of what's been said.

 

Also, I'm not qualified to post on this but it's fun so I'm going to ... :hyst:

 

As others have said, in regard to naming the originator, I think the premise is nice but not practical. If we were to name the originator, we would have to also name the tyer, because often the style changed with the tyer. To me MOM style signifies in the style of the Mary / Orvis ladies versus the Weber company, or Mustad (yes Mustad had a fly tying operation in the late 1880's, trained by an English tyer). And, if we were to name the originator, 99% of the time we would also need to note we were tying a variation. After seeing the original Muddler that Ted P has, I'm surprised that we refer to our carefully clipped and shaved flies as a muddler.

 

In the case of the MOM stuff, remember that Mary/Orvis had taken a national poll, and was for the most part tying from hand written recipes and in some cases sketches, so how accurate was the Orvis interpretation of the original?

 

 

 

 

 

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I'd definitely agree with your friend, CJ. We can site resources quite easily, but I think we place too much emphasis on names, pigeonholing, styles, etc. I guess that's our cognitive brain taking over, and in most, it dominates. I believe it is good to record history, sources, etc, but we often get too hung up on terminology. A good example is the term "Catskill Style" dry fly. While I believe that the definition of this particular phenomenon exists, the term "style" has always bothered me-in particular. To me "style" means something flashy, fleeting, popular at present, like "you're in style". The Catskill flies have been around for so long and have been so effective in their use, they are more than a style. They are a "design", based on a particular placement of and use of materials set in specific proportions.

 

So, I agree with what was said, and I think protecting and preserving our heritage is of great importance. If we're going to identify, name, and pigeonhole, we need to be somewhat precise and less general.

 

Mark

 

 

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Hi John:

 

Nice question, I kind of have to say I sort of disagree with you on this one and also take the same stance as Troutbum. My input is is that there are many interpretations of a wet fly. for example let's talk about the Tomah Joe. Bergman has one style, MOM has another and so on. So which pattern is right. Also the creator of the fly reallyt does not list the exact pattern. There are a lot of things you said I agree with and a lot that I disagree with. Any way, good question

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Part of the problem is that we all don't have all to good reference material available to us. By labeling the flies as found in the popular and mostly available books is not intended to take away from the originator's prestige.

 

When we lable flies as such and someone knows the history of that fly, I for one would love to be educated in replies to the post.

 

Bob

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Great topic CJ. Love discussions like this.

 

Allow me some rambling....

 

Mark - I think there are alternate definitions of the term 'style' that don't relate to current vogue, but more technique or historically oriented -- per Merriam Webster: "a particular manner or technique by which something is done, created, or performed (e.g. a unique style of horseback riding, the classical style of dance)

 

 

CJ - I would say that I certainly understand, and am sympathetic to, the sentiment expressed by your friend, in that we should be careful about losing historical perspective on the origins of these flies. However, I would qualify that by saying that is being done is classifying the style of fly as opposed to renaming the pattern. Or qualifying the way in which a particular pattern is being presented. A Parmachene Belle may be tied in a variety of styles. Only one style may represent the 'original' fly pattern, but over time these patterns can, and often are, tied in other styles as well. Some patterns have migrated from large winged, blind eye wets, to smaller down eye ('Bergman') wets, to streamers, bucktails, etc. This variety of forms makes the use of a clarifying tag appealing. If I said I was tying a Hare's Ear and left it at that, would you know whether I meant nymph or wetfly?

 

Unfortunately, taking a extreme hard line on this would mean that if one were to tie a Parmachene Belle, then it would have to be a blind eye wet, and that one using the same color scheme tied in small, down eye wet fashion (a la Bergman's Trout) or streamer would need to use a different name altogether. Hardly practical and likely much more damaging over time to the history of the original pattern. I know that Henry Wells created the Parmachene Belle, regardless of what form or forms it is tied in today. Like it or not, because these older patterns have migrated across fly styles, the tags are almost a necessity at this point. The danger is that along the way someone may mistakenly think the Parmachene Belle was originated by Bergman or Mary O. Hopefully, there is enough reference material out there that if someone wanted to really know the origins of a particular pattern instead of making blind assumptions, he or she could do so relatively easily.

 

Of course, these style 'nicknames' have been the product of the popular landmark books that brought them to the forefront. The fact that these books contained comprehensive collections of these patterns in a singular style (for the most part) and the books' widespread ownership are what make the particular 'nickname' choices natural and logical. This was no doubt driven home in the minds of current tyers more recently through Schmookler's "Forgotten Flies', which featured both Mary O and Bergman in significant fashion.

 

The unfortunate byproduct of all this is that it may help muddy the fly history more than time already has. However, at this point it seems a necessary evil. I always revert back to Carrie Stevens Gray Ghost as the classic example of this. It would be hard to argue that a fly tied with the exact same materials as a Gray Ghost, no mattern what form it takes, is not a Gray Ghost - because the pattern elements/colors are the same. That doesn't necessarily make it a historically accurate representation of the original, however. This is the exact reason people tend to qualify Mrs. Stevens style with terms like Rangeley Style or Stevens Style - for clarity as to how the fly is dressed. The difference here is that the style originator and pattern originator are one in the same.

 

Anyway, like you said, good food for thought. Sorry if I droned and got a little repetitive here, as some of my thoughts echo others here.

 

 

 

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Streamertyer,

First, while there are different definitions of "style", I believe there are better words to denote a particular way of doing something like "manner". Again, semantics and naming things is often the catch point.

 

Regarding the Gray Ghost idea that a fly tied with exactly the same material would be a Gray Ghost, I disagree. It could have a completely different look as the original Gray Ghost. I could give you and another tier the exact same materials, right down to the hook and say "Tie a fly using all these materials." Do you think you would tie the exact same fly pattern?

They may look similar, but be totally different. Many flies in Trout look similar and are tied of like materials, but are totally different. The way the materials are used dictates a particular pattern, in my opinion.

 

A married wing section using black and white duck quill would look totally different if one had black edges with a white stripe through it and the other had white edges with a black stripe through it. The materials are exactly alike, but how they are used determines the pattern.

 

Mark

 

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First, while there are different definitions of "style", I believe there are better words to denote a particular way of doing something like "manner". Again, semantics and naming things is often the catch point.

 

To me, when we speak of aesthetic elements that define or categorize something, we're speaking of a 'design style'. Don't know if I've heard the term 'design manner', but we're probably splitting hairs here.... :dunno:

 

Regarding the Gray Ghost idea that a fly tied with exactly the same material would be a Gray Ghost, I disagree. It could have a completely different look as the original Gray Ghost. I could give you and another tier the exact same materials, right down to the hook and say "Tie a fly using all these materials." Do you think you would tie the exact same fly pattern?

 

Perhaps I should have been more specific in saying the same materials list with the materials placed in the same locations. You'll note that I said it would be hard to argue that it wasn't a Gray Ghost based on the pattern elements, yet few who know the pattern history would accept it as an accurate reproduction. It would technically be the same basic pattern recipe, only violating the original 'design style'.

 

They may look similar, but be totally different. Many flies in Trout look similar and are tied of like materials, but are totally different. A married wing section using black and white duck quill would look totally different if one had black edges with a white stripe through it and the other had white edges with a black stripe through it. The materials are exactly alike, but how they are used determines the pattern

 

OK - we're talking about different things. I was speaking of the same (or closely similar) materials in the same locations, not differing locations and/or colors. The Dr. Burke wetfly and the Dr. Burke streamer are named the same because the basic pattern recipe is the same, just different forms of the same basic pattern.

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