Raymond Kucharski

Steve, a fellow fly tyer, let me read one of his books about the history of streamer flies, CARRIE G. STEVENS, Maker of Rangley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, Graydon R. Hilyard and Leslie K. Hilyard.

            Carrie Stevens and her fishing-guide husband lived and worked in the Rangeley Lakes area in west-central Maine. Carrie (a former milliner adorning women’s hat with feathers) became a self-taught fly tier selling her flies to supplement their income. She never saw anyone tie a fly and no one saw her completely finish a fly. Carrie’s smelt imitating, hackle-streamers became popular bestsellers because they were well-tied, attractive flies that caught fish. The colors of her flies were muted and the proportions more streamline than the Atlantic salmon and Lake Fly patterns that preceded her.

            Carrie created a fly she called the Gray Ghost that caught a 6-pound, 13-once brook trout. The catch took second prize in the 1924 Field and Stream Fishing Contest and put the hackle-streamer and the Rangeley Lakes on the map.  The Gray Ghost created a paradigm shift in fly-tying.

             My streamer fly box holds several Gray Ghosts as well as some of my other favorite streamer; such as the Nine-Three originated by Dr. Hurbert Sanborn (named for the first caught fish, a 9 lb. 3 oz. salmon), the Supervisor originated by Joseph Stickney, the Black Ghost Originated by Herbert Welsh and the Pink Ghost.

            The book credits my fly-tying mentor Paul Kukonen with creating the Pink Ghost. Paul created and popularized many fly patterns himself; including a Field and Stream - Fly of the Month called the Cardinelle.

            Reading the book brought back many memories. Steve said the book meant so much more to me than to him that he told me to keep the book. In reading the book I discovered Carrie, Paul and I had somethings in common (above and beyond the love of fly tying and fishing). Carrie and I both won second prize for brook trout in the Field and Stream Fishing Contest and Paul and I had one of our original fly creation featured in a national fishing magazine, (my fly, the Special K, was featured in the Flyfishing and Tying Journal and the Fly Tyer magazine). It’s nice to know that I may have a small link to flyfishing and tying history.



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