This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Fan Wing Royal Coachman.
This Fan Wing Royal Coachman was tied by Dan Bailey. It’s one of nine flies I was able to document with my camera. Last week’s TBT fly, the Black Bivisible, is the first fly I posted that was tied by Dan.
Here is the information I wrote about Dan Bailey from last week’s post:
Bailey moved to Montana from New York City in 1940 or 1941. Here is an excerpt about Dan taken from the Dan Bailey Fly Shop website.
“In 1936 Dan was a professor at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute in New York City, and he was working on his doctorate in atomic science at NYU. He married Helen in 1936 and they drove to Montana for their honeymoon. Dan spent the summer camped on the Madison and Gallatin Rivers. Helen had to go back to New York City and work. Again they came back for the summer of 1937. Driving from Bozeman to Livingston Helen drove off the road, which was a winding mountain road. The car had to be towed to Livingston to be repaired and it took three days for the repairs. As Dan walked around Livingston he found a small space to rent on Park Street a block away from where we are located now. The cost was $20.00 a month. Dan found during the previous summer and the summer of 1937 he was unable to buy supplies for fly fishing and got the idea there was a need for a fly shop.
Back in New York he finished all his course work, exams and orals but never finished his thesis. He moved to Livingston in the summer of 1938. Helen came to Montana on vacations but did not move to Montana until 1940 or 1941. Had he stayed in New York City and finished his doctorate, he would have been in the middle of the Manhattan project.
His early years were very difficult but being a fly tier he sold flies to other outlets. As he told me in the early years most of the fishing supply outlets were bars. After his death in 1982, a customer sent me a copy of a classified add from a July 1937 Outdoor Life. “Send for free folder today. (Trial assortment, 5 for $1.00). Dan Bailey, 217 West 10th Street, New York City. After July First, send mail to Ennis, Montana. (The good old days) As you can see this was the start of our mail order business.”
The following information was from a previous Throw Back Thursday fly, the Royal Coachman Dry Fly.
The Royal Coachman can be found in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book – Favorite Flies and Their Histories (1892). Here is the entry from page 97 listing fly No. 40 (the wet fly version):
“The Royal Coachman was first made in 1878 by John Haily, a professional fly-dresser living in New York City. In writing of other matters, he inclosed [sic] a sample of this fly for us to see, saying: “A gentleman wanted me to tie some Coachmen for him to take up into the north woods, and to make them extra strong, so I have tied them with a little band of silk in the middle, to prevent the peacock bodies from fraying out. I have also added a tail of the barred feathers of the wood-duck, and I think it makes a very handsome fly.” A few evenings later, a circle of us were together “disputing the fly question,” one of the party claiming that numbers were “quite as suitable to designate the flies as so many nonsensical names.” The others did not agree with him, but he said: “What can you do? Here is a fly intended to be a Coachman, yet it is not the true Coachman; it is quite unlike it, and what can you call it?” Mr. L. C. Orvis, brother of Mr. Charles Orvis, who was present, said: “Oh, that is easy enough; call it the Royal Coachman, it is so finely dressed!” And this name in time came to be known and used by all who are familiar with the fly.”