Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Anything fly tying...
SgtMajUSMC
Posts: 665
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:25 pm

Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by SgtMajUSMC » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:13 am

H,

I'm glad everything arrived ok. Thanks for your kind words, and for posting the photos.

I think that fly is a winner, and in the right conditions, could work as a grasshopper, stonefly, or general searching attractor.
Here's the pattern list, as I tied it:

Hook: Mustad 94831
Thread: Danville 6/0 Florescent Fire Orange
Tail: Deerbody hair, cleaned and "finger stacked"
Body: Mix of Wapsi Amber Sow/Scud dubbing and Hareline Bright Yellow. I wanted to achieve the golden color that was captured in the original photo of Fran's flies. Collins saddle, dark red/brown, palmered.
Wing: Deer body hair, cleaned and finger stacked.
Hackle: Collins saddle.
Cement: Dr. Logik's Traditional Amber Varnish (Thanks again, Grant!) I like the way this varnish darkens the color of the thread.

Cleaning/combing out the underfur is so important when working with deer hair. I use Jack Gartside's technique, and use an eyelash groomer. I also believe that making sure that the hair is clean is equally important. The samples that I sent bb have been in my material storage bin for almost 30 years. When I processed that I hide I washed, dried, and salted it. When dry I scrape off the salt and it is ready to be stored.

I gave Fran some of that same deer hide back in the early 90's when I visited him and fished the Ausable. He immediately tied up a Haystack and gave it to my wife. As others have stated, watching him tie and conversing with him about fishing he Adirondacks was priceless.

I hope this book that is being discussed becomes a reality.

Best,

Tim

Mantis
Posts: 321
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:43 pm

Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by Mantis » Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:23 pm

Hi gents, I just got this reply back from Jan. Dave Brandt and Danny Thomas are the tyers she mentions who I passed the job off too.


I wish I had a thousand to sell - but not yet. Dave and friend came through with flies for the 50 favorite patterns and my niece is taking the photos. Slow though as she got a new job.

Hope you are well and your family!

Jan

bear-kodak
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Location: Shamokin, Pa.

Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by bear-kodak » Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:56 pm

Hello All , Can you tell me if there was any updates from Jan since your last contact ?
Thanks....jim

Mantis
Posts: 321
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:43 pm

Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by Mantis » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:54 pm

Haven't heard anything yet. Here is her email. Maybe if she gets some interest that people would like to buy the new book she will keep the pressure on. I think she must have married Pat Allen as she uses that last name now. She is in Florida as when her father died he left her his house. She was raising bees for honey last I heard. As ever, Bob
jnbetters@gmail.com

bearbutt
Posts: 484
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:36 pm

Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by bearbutt » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:29 pm

Finally, at ever long last, I've been able to tinker around and tie some of Fran's huge stoneflies. And they are big bugs: with two sets of wings, they flutter around the West Branch of the Ausable like helicopters.

Here's some ties from the first batch:

Image

If you look at the picture of Fran's tie in the foreground, you will notice how the wingset seems stacked above the hook shank; it's really hard to get the head compressed to lay on the hackle.

I used some of Tim's deer hair, some I obtained from a friend in Pennsylvania, with a bit of woodchuck tail mixed in. These are tied on 9672s in size 10 and 12--the flies are about 2-2 1/2 inches long.

The flies break a lot of rules for good tying: they are oversized and overdressed, and probably look more like a cigar butt than a stone fly. I really won't know until June just how well they work--but it's been a good challenge to find the pattern and try to resurrect it. I wish we had Fran's dressing--Bob, do you have any update from Jan on the book?

bb
Last edited by bearbutt on Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

wiFlyFisher
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Location: Wisconsin
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Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by wiFlyFisher » Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:20 pm

bb, looks like some really nice Coachman Brown hackle you added to your ausable stoneflies. I hope to see them soon.

They would work in June on my fav WI waters.

John

bearbutt
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Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by bearbutt » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:37 am

wiFlyFisher wrote:
Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:20 pm

They would work in June on my fav WI waters.
JOhn,

What color are the bellies on your Wisconsin stoneflies? The NY Ausable creatures are a dirty yellow, like Fran's, but I've also seen others that vary from orange to yellowish-orange to reddish orange--so let me know, and I'll tie for you a couple and bring them to Madison on the 10th.

bb

bearbutt
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Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by bearbutt » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:02 pm

Ed asked for a recap on the Fran Betters stonefly, so I'll do what I can in this regard, with as much as I know:

The Fran Betters stonefly is an example of fly-tying forensics. As far as I know, the only convincing example of the fly was brought to the Two-Fly Shop in Wilmington, New York, where the owner, Tom Conway, continues to sell and promote locally-tied versions of Fran's designs. Tom photographed the fly--and others that were obtained from Fran at the same time--and posted images on the shop's website. It is not known when Fran tied the fly, although it is clearly a later pattern, and is paired with an Ausable Bomber, which was one of Fran's designs from the late 1990s, I believe. Fran's Fly Tying and Pattern Guide does not describe the fly; nor do any articles Fran published. Everything I know about it is in the photographs of the fly that Conway took.

A lot of fly dressings come down to us as written descriptions of the materials used; these descriptions are helpful, but without a photo or illustration they do not show proportions, so have limited usefulness. In the case of Fran's stonefly, we have a photo, but no description of the materials used--which creates its own set of challenges.

Let's look at the fly again:

Image

Originally, I surmised that the tail and wingset was a mixture of deer and woodchuck. Tim Didas helped me narrow the deer down to dark coastal whitetail. The body could be pretty much anything, dubbing-wise: dyed yellowish possum to floor trimmings. The hackle looks reddish brown, ostensibly Furnace, possibly Coachman brown. The thread is Fran's trademark hot-orange. The hook appears to be either a Mustad 9671 or 9672, though Tim has suggested the Mustad 94831. The 9671 and 94831 have the same profile and measurements (2x long), but the 94831 is 2x fine (a size 10 94831 weighs 58 grams; a size 10 9671 weighs 85 grams).

Based on the cigarette lighter in the photo, which provides some scale, I think we are looking at a size 12 hook in the sample fly.

Historically, the pattern really doesn't relate too well to Stimulators, as I originally thought; either Slattery's original Jersey design from (around) 1980, or Randall Kaufmann's versions. Stimulators have built-up heads, with the wingset anchored in the middle of the hook shank. Fran's design has much more in common with the Sofa Pillow that Pat Barnes designed in the 1940s. Here's an original Sofa Pillow:

Image
(photo credit: http://www.spencerewert.com/WesternTrou ... arnes.html)

The Sofa Pillow uses squirrel tail for the wing case, a material I tried last summer when I was in Wilmington with limited tying resources and didn't have the right deer hair It doesn't float as well as deer, the fly will sit lower in the surface film; but it is still effective. The "Improved" Sofa Pillow (pictured here) has a palmered body, and heavily hackled head just like Fran's pattern has.

The differences are in the details: Fran's fly has a VERY long tail equal to the entire length of the hook; and the wing case reaches all the way back to the tip of the tail. It appears almost overdressed by most metrics of tying. Additionally, the wingset appears to be tied in above, not around, the hook shank--a detail that perplexed (and still perplexes) me.



This is what I settled on in the end:

Hook: Mustad 9672 sizes 10 & 12
Thread: Uni Hot orange 6/0 and 8/0 (I don't recommend a slippery thread like Veevus; you want a well-waxed thread that is going to bite into the hair and hold it well).
Tail: dark whitetail deer with a little orangeish woodchuck mixed in
Body: a blend of yellow seal and UV dub with some floor trimmings mixed in to dirty it slightly
Hackle: Very dark ginger & brown Whiting saddle; I don't have a good Furnace cape, but would use that if I did

Tying in the tail, the body, and the palmered hackle are routine. However, things get tricky when you lay down the wingset. As Tim said, you want to cut out the deer hair and clean it well and fingerstack it. I tried create an irregular stack so the tips don't all end evenly. Then, when tying it in, you have the challenge of getting it to seat itself on the hook. This is what you will be dealing with:

Image

Add a dab of head cement into this when you pull it down and crimp it--and then trim it and add the wrapped hackle. You don't want the head to be too triangular or your wraps will slide down to the eye and lead to all sorts of trouble and unbecoming words of frustration.

In the end mine looked like this:

Image

Image

And Tim's looked like this:

Image


It is VERY hard to get Fran's proportions as he had them--everything depends on the deer hair you are using. I was using mostly this piece, which is very similar to some Tim sent me--:

Image

I'm not convinced I have it right yet. But I think I am making progress. I 'll try these next June when I'm on the Ausable and see how things go, and modify the design or not.

Meanwhile, I'm on a search for the original flies Tom photographed, and whoever might own them (or others in the photo that Tom posted):


Image

The big stonefly on the right seems a little different than the one in the top center--the body maybe? The dark stonefly nymph in the photo looks familiar; I have one of those I bought at Fran's shop still, it's round like a Charles Brooks nymph:

Image

I'm not convinced Fran tied these though. But who knows? Look at the fly in the foreground: a big flying carpenter ant, it seems? There's lots to figure out here....


Sorry my photos are so crappy. My excuse is that I am an artist, and everyone knows artists can't take good photographs.

bb
Last edited by bearbutt on Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Eperous
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Location: Catskills

Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by Eperous » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:09 pm

Your photos are perfectly fine bb... and thanks for posting all this great info on a historic pattern... and, I must also apologize to my buddy Tim, as I didn't realize he also posted a version of the pattern above, until I re-read the entire post from top to bottom...

Thanks Gents... I for one love fly-fishing history and patterns of the former masters... this looks like a trout-catcher in boulder ridden foamy pocket water, and other wet places...

Ed

bearbutt
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Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:36 pm

Re: Fran's Ausable Stonefly

Post by bearbutt » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:58 pm

Ed, yes--Tim's been very helpful with deconstructing the photo and the pattern. His ties are great too, very clean and light, with uncrowded eyes--I don't know how he does it? His version is very versatile too--it can be taken for a hopper, among other things. My ties are more unbalanced and lopsided and cat vomitty? But I think there's room for a lot of ways of interpreting Fran's design--I hope more people will give it a go, and we can confer again to discuss the results next June.

bb

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