This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is Roy Steenrod’s Light Hendrickson.
In this week’s post entitled Using Wood Duck, Mallard, and Teal Feathers for Fly Tying, I tied a Quill Gordon fly and decided to look for another classic Catskill fly pattern to highlight for this week’s TBT.
I found the Light Hendrickson in Eric Leiser’s book entitled The Dettes – A Catskill Legend (1992) about Walt and Winnie Dette and their daughter Mary Dette Clark and their impact on classic Catskill flies.
The Light Hendrickson was developed by Roy Steenrod and named for A.E. Hendrickson to imitate the Hendrickson hatches on the Beaverkill and Willowemoc rivers in late April through mid-May. Walt and Winnie Dette were tying this fly in the late 1920s.
I had heard about Roy Steenrod and wanted to learn more about him so I pulled out Mike Valla’s The Founding Flies book. He writes how Steenrod learned some of his fly tying skills from Theodore Gordon, known as the “Father of Dry-Fly Fishing in America”. Steenrod met Gordon in 1901 at the Liberty, New York post office where Roy worked. It was widely known at the time that Gordon didn’t share his tying skills, but Steenrod states he learned from Gordon “under a code of honor that the courtesy not be disclosed to others at that time.”
Fly tyers in the Dette era (or earlier) didn’t share the techniques used to create their flies. They were basically trade secrets. Rube Cross was a well-known fly tyer in the 1920’s and 30’s. Walt tried to get Cross to teach him to tie flies and his response was “go to hell”. Walt purchased some of Cross’ flies and took them apart to learn how the flies were tied. That was the beginning of their commercial tying business.
The Dettes were always willing to share how their flies were tied. Evidence of this fact is in Leiser’s book with detailed directions of how their flies were tied.
Flies included in the technique section include the Light Hendrickson, the Delaware Adams, the Coffin Fly, a Fan-Wing Coachman, the Gray Fox Variant, the Conover, a Dette Caddis, the Spotter Midge, the Dette Beetle, along with several other flies.
The Dettes sold their flies from home in Roscoe, NY. I believe their house and vises were at the epicenter of fly tying and were known as “the world’s leading dry-fly-tying experts.”
Here is a link to the Dette Fly Shop along with a little more information about them from their website:
Established in 1928, Dette Trout Flies is the oldest family run fly shop in the world, now in our 93nd year. Our mission has always been, and always will be, to supply the fly fishing community with the finest products and service. Every fly we sell is either tied in house or by a handful of select domestic tiers.
In Spring 2018 to commemorate 90 years in business we have opened a larger location in Livingston Manor with the goal to provide a welcoming space to display our ever growing selection of flies, fly tying materials, and fly fishing gear. Our inventory is solely comprised only of products that meet our demand for high quality standards. The Roscoe store is closed.
Here are Amazon links to two of my favorite books. If you get a chance to buy them, you won’t be disappointed.
(John Kreft is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.)