Fanwing Royal Coachman

From Halford's early dries to the Catskill dry and everything else that floats on the surface.
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Eperous
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Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by Eperous »

Here's a version of a thread that got lost Tuesday night, the eve of the first Catskill snow storm this week; so let me try it again. Believe or not, the Fanwing Royal Coachman is a Catskill classic dry fly, though perhaps with a somewhat disputed background.

Cecil Heacox, in his The Compleat Brown Trout, notes on pages 140-141 that the Fanwing Royal Coachman is Catskill-born. He goes on to say that in 1917 it was originated by Thomas and Chester Mills, of the well known Thomas Mills and Son fishing-tackle shop, one day after fishing the Esopus Creek with Hiram Leonard, the famous cane rod maker. Being an Esopus fanatic, this was always the story that excited me. However, recently Ed Van Put, in his masterpiece – Trout Fishing in the Catskills, reported that the Fanwing Royal Coachman was the creation of Theodore Gordon. Knowing Ed, I tend to put my stock in Van Put, but either way the Fanwing Royal Coachman is a Catskill-born dry as Heacox said.

Fanwing Royal Coachman, #12 Mustad 94840 -

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Rear view, same pattern -

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In this age of antron, z-lon, and untold numbers of synthetic tying materials --- I doubt many fly fishers still fish the Fanwing Royal Coachman. On occasion I still do when Isonychia are hatching on the Esopus. However, my casting stroke is short – with minimal false casts while using a stout – 4x or 3x – tippet. Without a doubt, the Fanwing will twist your leader, which in and of itself isn’t all that bad. On numerous occasions I have witnessed the end of my tippet unwind as it floated on the water’s facade causing the Coachman to magically dance and roll on the stream’s surface, often arousing sleepy trout from below into aggressive takes.

So, while the Fanwing Royal Coachman might rarely see the light of day on many fly fishers' leaders anymore, it’s still a classic Catskill dry fly and not totally forgotten.

Ed

catskilljohn
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Re: Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by catskilljohn »

Nice...those sure were popular in Ray Bergmans days, but leader twisters they are. Yous looks very nice, good looking fly Ed! CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
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Joe Fox
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Re: Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by Joe Fox »

I love to tie fan-wings and this year fished them a bit, only because I had a few rejects I tossed in my box. I shocked the guy I was fishing with after 3 fish, on a fly he said does not work. The large white wings are also very visible going into dark.
My biggest peeve with them are the wings. Easy to tie and very easy to break off. They just to not hold up very well and the stems tend to break, then you get a wingless coachman ;)

Joe

troutingintas
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Re: Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by troutingintas »

Concerning Theodore Gordon and the Fan Wing Royal Coachman, there is an article in the 1952 Field and Stream by John Alden Knight: He states:
"Gordon as you no doubt know, depended in part for his livelihood upon the sale of trout flies to the old-time Catskill fly fishermen. Two of his regular customers were Guy R. Jenkins and the late Leslie S. Petrie, both of New York City. On one fishing trip Guy Jenkins saw Gordon use some Royal Coachmen that were tied with what we now know as "fan wings". These were the tips of small white feathers from the breast of a male wood duck. Jenkins took a fancy to this fly and until Gordon died he ordered a supply of them annually. Petrie went him one better. He had Gordon tie his fan wings with a yellow silk band in the body instead of the then conventional red band, and this alteration was called the Petrie Fanwing Royal Coachman, or, more briefly, the Petrie Royal."

catskilljohn
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Re: Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by catskilljohn »

troutingintas wrote: Petrie went him one better. He had Gordon tie his fan wings with a yellow silk band in the body instead of the then conventional red band, and this alteration was called the Petrie Fanwing Royal Coachman, or, more briefly, the Petrie Royal."
Great stuff, I didn't know that!

Nice first post too, thanks for joining in. CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"

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Eperous
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Re: Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by Eperous »

troutingintas wrote:... the Petrie Fanwing Royal Coachman, or, more briefly, the Petrie Royal."
Wow, neat bit of Catskill angling history... thanks... :D

Ed

troutingintas
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Re: Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by troutingintas »

Heres a bit more about fanwings. Corey Calftail (Ralph Corey) flies were down-wing dries that became widely popular after the First World War. Hair wings tied upright and divided did not evolve until 1929 when Leonard Charles Quackenbush (of the upper Beaverkill) asked Reuben Cross to make a Fanwing Royal Coachman with white deer hair wings. Quackenbush or ‘Quack’ as he was commonly called by his friends loved the Fanwing Royal Coachman but the fly's wings were very fragile. Cross tied some using white kinky impala hair for the fan wings and tail fibers of natural brown buck. Later versions used white calf tail wings and overtime the name ‘Royal Wulff’ gradually evolved because of its similar appearance to the ‘Wulff’ (Lee Wulff) style flies.

A fan wing fly made with kinky white impala sounds a lot more elegant than the so-called Royal Wulff we use today.

BruceC
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Re: Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by BruceC »

Hi Ed. Here's a blog post I put up a while ago with some Bergman tied royal coachmans. Thought you might like to see them.
http://www.brucecorwin.com/bc/Blog/Entr ... rgman.html

Best,
Bruce

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Eperous
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Re: Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by Eperous »

BruceC wrote:Hi Ed. Here's a blog post I put up a while ago with some Bergman tied royal coachmans. Thought you might like to see them.
http://www.brucecorwin.com/bc/Blog/Entr ... rgman.html

Best,
Bruce
Nice blog Bruce... ;) it's been a while since I looked it over last... thanks for posting... :D

Ed

fishcane
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Re: Fanwing Royal Coachman

Post by fishcane »

Anyone know of a variation of the FW that incorporated a red floss tag that veiled over the tail extending about an 1/8"? I have a box of flies attributed to Bergman and a number of the Fanwings have the tag. Ill try to snap some pix if anyone would like to see. I was of the mind that it was a Bergman signature but the link Bruce provided does not show the tag. Since my box is mixed with both with/without tag, I was wondering how common this was...

Thanks for any help!

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