Hewitt's Neversink Skater

From Halford's early dries to the Catskill dry and everything else that floats on the surface.
catskilljohn
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Re: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by catskilljohn » Wed Sep 07, 2016 8:51 pm

Great stuff BB! I love that you are digging this so much, the NS is such a cool and unique fly.

As far as the hackle tips "touching each other" I dont believe this is physically possible without gluing them together, a step I refuse to take. The flies pass the "Graves test" because of the opposing hackle tips due to the concave/convex technique when wrapping the hackle. In other words, they end up passing through each other forming a lopsided X viewed from the side above and below the hook shank.

Both you guys make a beautiful fly, and obviously Brk Trt, your local coldwater buddies agree. I still cant get over the last few fish and fly photos you guys put up...fantastic! 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"

mikevalla
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Re: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by mikevalla » Fri Sep 09, 2016 6:13 am

There's some info, in my The Founding Flies, on how Marinaro let out the tying secret in his Outdoor Life mag article (Citations given). Also about Fox's involvement and the "closely held secret."
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M
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bearbutt
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Re: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by bearbutt » Sat Sep 10, 2016 10:41 am

catskilljohn wrote: As far as the hackle tips "touching each other" I dont believe this is physically possible without gluing them together, a step I refuse to take. The flies pass the "Graves test" because of the opposing hackle tips due to the concave/convex technique when wrapping the hackle. In other words, they end up passing through each other forming a lopsided X viewed from the side above and below the hook shank.
Well, yes--of course. For convenience, let's distinguish between two known ways of finishing off Skaters:

1) The Marinaro finish: hackle tips come together to form a knife-like edge. The hackle tips may (Shenk) or may not be 'glued' with varnish, head cement, or some other adhesive

2) The Graves finish: the hackle tips cross each other so that they provide an X-shaped base when the fly is placed on the edge

From the tyer's point of view, they are both good designs--. But for me, the next question is how they perform on the water.

This past summer I fished with skaters that were finished mostly Graves style. They landed flat, as Hewitt designed them to land, and when lifted up to skate did so reasonably well, provided I had the right flow (slow pool, fly mostly downstream)--. They didn't last long this way though--so this got me wondering about whether the Marinaro knife-edge truly skated better. Plus, it got me wondering what floatant might work best with these? So these are the two lingering questions for me right now. I especially want to figure out the Marinaro style so I can put both versions to test next summer. Like I said, I can get the edges lined up pretty well, but they don't stay that way very long, especially after a cast or two. Funny how this inquiry has led to chemical questions: Shenk's "goop" and a preferred floatant.

Suggestions?

bb

catskilljohn
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Re: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by catskilljohn » Sat Sep 10, 2016 9:34 pm

bearbutt wrote: This past summer I fished with skaters that were finished mostly Graves style. They landed flat, as Hewitt designed them to land, and when lifted up to skate did so reasonably well, provided I had the right flow (slow pool, fly mostly downstream)--. They didn't last long this way though--so this got me wondering about whether the Marinaro knife-edge truly skated better. Plus, it got me wondering what floatant might work best with these? So these are the two lingering questions for me right now. I especially want to figure out the Marinaro style so I can put both versions to test next summer. Like I said, I can get the edges lined up pretty well, but they don't stay that way very long, especially after a cast or two. Funny how this inquiry has led to chemical questions: Shenk's "goop" and a preferred floatant.

Suggestions?

bb
My suggestion would be, tie them how you like them and fish them that way. The way I view them, they are a situation specific fly with a very limited duty cycle. Put one on when you think you could raise a fish and either catch him or not. Its not an Ausable Wulff that you can cast for 4 hours, land 9 trout and have it still look like it just came off the vise.

I think I have probably caught 5 fish on them total, and had many more either take swipes at them, get on and right off or at least reveal themselves. The way you fish them puts you at such a disadvantage, stripping them to keep them moving, its a miracle if you do hook something on one!

I love them for the historical aspect, the uniqueness of them as a pattern and the difficulty in obtaining the materials to tie them. Having a fish come up and slash at one is a real thrill, and hooking and landing one is probably the rarest occurrence in all of my fishing experience.

ps...the biggest trout I ever caught on one was 13"...so its not just a big fish fly. 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: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by Eperous » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:54 am

catskilljohn wrote: ... had many more either take swipes at them, get on and right off or at least reveal themselves. ... I love them for the historical aspect ...
Me 2! Especially when wandering the upper Neversink... :)

bearbutt
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Re: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by bearbutt » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:11 am

catskilljohn wrote: I love them for the historical aspect, the uniqueness of them as a pattern and the difficulty in obtaining the materials to tie them.

Well, that makes two (probably more) of us!

But I also find them very effective, if fragile. Even in his 1937 article on Skaters, Hewitt said "the flies are not very durable and are a lot of trouble to keep in proper working order." And Marinao warned you need a special box to carry then so the hackle tips do not get squished or bent. So it's not just they are hard to make, but they are hard to carry and hard to cast and hard to love when you're missing so many strikes.

But this is to me part of their attraction--plus, they just stand out visually--there's no fly quite like them.

Still, I'm not done there--I still want to figure out how to make the fly more effective. So this is why I want to pursue the Marinaro finish and find out how the knife edge can be maintained--they had head cements back then we don't have today (probably for good reasons too)--but I'll keep trying then give everything a go on the Ausable next summer--.

bb

bearbutt
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Re: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by bearbutt » Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:04 am

I’ve been poking around in a search for more information about Hewitt and his Skaters, and by chance came upon two of Hewitt’s catalogues: one undated, probably from the late 20s or early 30s, and another from 1937. The 1937 catalogue has tipped in a single sheet titled “New Items for 1937,” and among the new items available for sale—“dry fly lines, stone flies, and variants,” are “Neversink Skaters:”

Image

The description here is interesting in that it’s similar to the information Hewitt provides in his 1937 article on Skaters. The cost, at $3.50 per dozen, is the equivalent of $59.13 in 2016 dollars, or a lousy $5 per fly. I doubt that Darbee, who probably tied the flies for Hewitt, was paid more than $2.50 per dozen, which is another way of saying that it makes sense to tie out of a love for tying, not because there’s any money in it.

Image

What’s especially interesting is that both the 1937 catalogue and the earlier one make a reference to spiders as a distinct pattern, ¾”-1 ¼” in diameter, “Tied without tails or body unless specially ordered.” With this statement we have a pretty clear history of the skater having derived from the spider, being as it is larger in diameter but without the tail and body that defines Variants. And as Hewitt says in his description of the Skaters, "These are spiders which are exceptionally large..."

The thing I am longing to get my hands on now is the Hewitt film that lies somewhere in the CFFM. I hope maybe this winter someone can get their hands on it (CJ?—wink)—and we can put our collective heads and energies together in getting it digitalized.

bb

catskilljohn
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Re: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by catskilljohn » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:37 pm

bb,

Just to follow up on the Hewitt movie. I have been asking for a long time, and found out the movie was on loan from a fly fishing club. They took it back, and are not interested in “re-loaning” it to make a copy.

If I ever get another opportunity to view it, I’ll certainly use my phone to video it, with their permission. 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"

ted patlen
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Re: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by ted patlen » Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:38 am

what club?

catskilljohn
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Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:03 am
Location: Yardley,PA- Jeffersonville,NY

Re: Hewitt's Neversink Skater

Post by catskilljohn » Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:14 pm

Ted, they didn’t tell me the club who loaned the movie.
Just that it was on loan, and now it’s not. Maybe the NYAC? But I don’t know. 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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