Famous Trolling Flies

By Bob Leeman

During those early years of streamer fly designs, there were many recognized creators of new streamer fly concoctions. Even today, the avocation of creating and fly tying continues to increase in popularity.

Most of Maine and New England’s lake and trollers and streamer fly assemblers would remember Carrie Stevens, noted creator of the famous fly she assembled called the “grey ghost”. She became famous after entering a fishing contest in 1924 by Field & Stream magazine, and won 2nd prize for her entry, after telling of using the fly to catch a huge brook trout of enormous proportions. Her prize was a famous painting.

Carrie Stevens
All of her streamer fly designs were originals that numbered to nearly one hundred or more. Some of those included: Col. Bates, Gen. MacArthur, shang’s favorite, wizard, red streak, Carrie’s favorite, America, Col. Fuller, Don’s delight, green hornet, lady killer, and so many more.

During those early years of streamer fly designs, there were many recognized creators of new streamer fly concoctions. Even today, the avocation of creating and fly tying continues to increase in popularity.

Most would acknowledge names of those who were pioneers of the trade, such as Herb Welch of Oquossoc, Maine for “Black Ghost” and “Welch Rabbit” streamers, Warden Joe Stickney of Saco, Maine for his “Warden’s Worry” fly, and A.W. Ballou of North Dighton, Massachusetts for the Ballou Spec.

The Edson Tiger
Too, there were Charley Sprague of Grand Lake Stream, Maine for his “Grand Laker” and “Golden Head”. The “Edson Tiger” flies were created by Bill Edson of Portland, Maine, and Dr. Sanborn’s tried and true, the “9-3” feathered bait.

As years ensued, new and celebrated streamer flies were invented and many of those attracted fish to the strike. Some of these were: George Baughman of Bangor, Maine for the “Barred Lady”, and “Green King and Queen”, Bert Quimby of South Windham, Maine for the “Lady Ghost” and “York’s Kennebago”, Lew Oatman of Shusan, New York was recognized for his “Brook Trout” and “Golden Darter” streamers. Bob Bibeau of North Windham, Maine remembered for his favorites of “Rochelle” and “Bibeau Killer” and the “Liggett Special” was a creation of Emile LeTourneau of Waterville, Maine.

Carl Sargent of East Orland, Maine assembled his “Red-Grey Ghost”, and Jim Henderson of Brewer, Maine remembered for his “Ma-Moo” and Nimrod Spec.” patterns. The “Maynard Marvel” pattern was originated by Ora Smith of Keene, New Hampshire. Let’s not forget Chief Nehdahbee of Greenville, Maine for his contribution of the “Chief Nehdahbee” fly. The “Chief” was not only a fine fly tyer, but a writer and lecturer as well. His fly was tied bi-plane style.

Joe’s Smelt
And who can forget the contributions from Dick Frost of Rangeley, Maine for his “Frost Blue Smelt” and Joe Serling of Danforth, Maine for his “Wood Special” and “Joe’s Smelt”.

In the more modern day years, we would be remise if we didn’t acknowledge Eddie Reif of Bangor, Maine for his “Rip” smelt, or “Ripogeneous Smelt”. Ty Coates, formerly of Waterville, Maine should be remembered for his “Castle Island King”. Ty was a personal friend and certainly a perfectionist in fly tying. Bill Bovee of Brewer, Maine created the “Lucky Lady” and “Colburn Special” streamers, among so many others. From Tom Mutch of West Grand Lake, Maine, a Master Maine Guide and fly tyer, came the “T.M. Special” and “A.A. Special, named after Aaron Alderman, a frequent visitor to the fishing grounds.

Bill Geagan
My old and dear friend, outdoor writer, Bill Geagan, had a fly tying friend who invented “The Grizzly Geagan” streamer with grizzly feathers. Bill once said, “It was well named.”

My dear old fishing buddy, Roger Wakefield of Machias, Maine created “The Barnsie” casting streamer from the “Barnes Special” original by C. Lowell Barnes.

Maple Syrup
More modern day imitation fly designs by Theriaults Fly Shop in Stacyville, Maine is the “Maple Syrup” The original design came from two old gentlemen from Old Town, Maine, who fished with it at Nesowadnehunk Lake with much success.
The “Sneeka” and “Close Nuf” streamer flys were fashioned by Fern Bosse of Norway, Maine. The “Footer Spec.” by Dave Footer, master painter and taxidermist from Waterville, Maine. Bob Leeman, Jr. for “new versions” of “Rochelle” and “Maxwell” streamers that “take” fish.

A good word for friend, Woody Woodman, “classic” fly tyer from Holden, Maine. Woody is a gifted fly tyer as well as a retired musician and band leader, who also designs and creates wooden plaques with original streamer fly patterns mounted and beautifully preserved under a glazed finish.

Let us not forget “Muzzy” Muzzarole of Sidney, Maine for his frameable, stunning masterpieces of artful imitation fly designs.
To be sure, we must mention Sharon Wright from Lisbon, Maine, for her prominent fly designs beautifully displayed in her book, “Tying Heritage Featherwing Streamers”.

We are forever grateful to the late H.W. Folkins of Tamworth, New Hampshire, who mastered the art of creating Carrie Steven’s sundry of streamer fly presentations after acquiring her business. Also, we should not forget Dick Surette’s contribution in fly tying and who originated the Fly Tyer magazine and several books to the industry.

Most of these streamer fly patterns may be found in the book, “Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon” by Dick Stewart and Bob Leeman. See ad in this NWSJ or call 207-573-1468.

Leeman Special
And last, but certainly not least, Bob Leeman, Sr. of Brewer, Maine for the “Leeman Special” streamer, tied sparse to take fish. Suggestions: Tie ‘em sparse. Overly decorated flies are for framed mantle decorations, but they do seem to sell better.
To close—a word from my dear, departed friend, Fran Montville from Old Town Maine, who was a superb fly tyer who once said, “a streamer fly is a lot like a woman—it must have “form, flash, and action!”

Bob Leeman is a Master Maine Guide, outdoor writer, naturalist, book author, and a co-host of the MAINE OUTDOORS radio program on Sunday evenings from 7-8 p.m. His three books are all available, in soft cover only, at several bookstores and fly shops, or directly from him. For information, see ad in this publication or call 207-573-1468.

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