Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Streamers Of Bill Edson

One of the great fly tyers of those early days, glory days of Maine fly fishing was Bill Edson. Bill was from Portland Maine and created many streamer flies that were staples in the fly wallets of anglers who were seeking the giant brook trout and salmon of the Rangeley lakes of western Maine. Many Edson's patterns had a unique item used in their construction, that item was a small brass eye. This brass eye was used in place of jungle cock and was tied in at the head.


These are the brass eyes that are used in many of Edson's streamers. One of his patterns used both jungle cock and the brass eyes.


This is the "Kennebago Special"....The body is flat silver tinsel, the throat is yellow and red hackle. The wing is furnace saddle hackle, and the eyes are jungle and brass. It is said that this streamer was Bill Edson's favorite fly.


This streamer is called a "Dark Edson Tiger" squirrel wing....Tag is gold tinsel. tail yellow hackle. Body yellow chenille, wing is fox squirrel, throat is red hackle. The fly also uses the brass eye.







30 comments:

  1. Alan, really great post. I have never seen or heard of brass eyes until now. I love the classics, and seeing them tied so well.

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    1. Matt Harding
      Thanks
      Matt those fly tyers of yesterday were very creative and used what they were able to get and put their creative thoughts to working...are you going to try one of these patterns on your waters?

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  2. Interesting, the brass eye thing is new to me. I'd like to learn more...

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    1. Michael Agneta
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      Mike, I have an idea Edson had a friend who had a manufacturing shop and the brass eyes were part of what he was making, leftovers sort of.

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  3. Alan,
    Is there a place the brass eyes are still available?
    bill

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    1. bill piatek,
      Thanks
      Bill, if you can would you please give us the source?

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    2. Alan,
      I was asking you. :-) I had seen Edson's patterns a few years back but never found a source.

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    3. Bill I'm sorry, I should have know that if I took the time to read...read right that is.

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    4. No problem. Those are some beautiful ties Alan. When I originally came across these I was wondering about a technique for making them. Acid etch maybe?

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  4. Fascinating flies, facts and very individual. was the brass eye a cheaper option than using jungle cock? History on a hook. Super. Regards, John

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    1. The Two Terriers
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      John, I know that jungle cock is super expensive today, and in those days it was also very high. The brass was indeed cheaper.

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  5. That "Kennebago Special" is a fine looking fly, Alan. What brook trout couldn't resist that combination of colours? The brass eyes are a clever innovation, I, too, have never come across them until now.
    I also like classic vintage flies. I recently bought some Hornbergs from the US and our local "Downunder" trout take this fly very aggressively.
    Kindest Regards,
    Steve.

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    1. Steve Hynes
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      Steve, many of the streamer patterns to come from Maine were not only beautiful but very productive. They used what materials that were common and cheap. Many of these patterns were created during Americas great depression.
      I always liked the patterns of Arthur Libby, sparse and frugal with a history of catching fish. Hornberg enough said.

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  6. History says the "Hornberg" pattern was so effective when introduced, there was much talk about making it illegal. I prefer hair wings over feathers on streamers. For me they seem to tangle far less in the leader. Nice post Alan. Bravo, otra vez.

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    1. John Dornik
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      John I know you have a vast knowledge of flies, and the Hornberg is one of them. Are you familiar with the "downwing" Hornberg?

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    2. Not familiar with that version. Regarding brass eyes: I would think they could very easily be fashioned from the tab of brass split pin paper fastener. A facsimile so close it would not matter to the trout. A dremel tool would be handy and a cupping tool made from a spherical ended rod (hammer with a soft wood reaction plate).

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    3. There you go, John the handyman. I have a few inquiries out there maybe one will come through.

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    4. John, here is a post on the downwing Hornberg.
      https://smallstreamreflections.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-fall-fly.html

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  7. Great examples of both feather wing and hair wing streamers from the Rangeley area, Alan. And some fine looking feathers too! Once upon a time I knew what the brass eyes were a by-product of, but I've forgotten.

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    1. William Shuck
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      Bill there were some great hair-wing streamers to come out of Maine..the Wardens Worry is a favorite of mine.
      Maybe someone will come to our aid and tell us the brass eye story.

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  8. Alan
    I wonder if the brass eye is used not only as an eye but as an added attractor? Thanks for sharing

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    1. Bill Trussell
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      Bill there is no doubt that the brass eye was draw a strike. I suppose they were cheaper than JC to and not as fragile.

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  9. Replies
    1. Mark Kautz
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      Mark quite possible, after it takes a few fish.

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  10. would look lovely framed up as others have mentioned Alan, well done .

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  11. https://whitetailflytieing.com/products/edson-gold-metal-eyes

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  12. I never saw a fly that carried a piece of brass on the body ..! , but of course they do not have a hook metal hanging, right?
    very good streamer that Kennebago Special..and the Dark Edson very elegant too ..

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    1. Armando Milosevic
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      Armando they are not lures. Bill Edson used those brass eyes on many of his streamers. I have not fished the Kennebago Special but I have fished the Dark Edson Tiger, a good fish taker.

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