I’ve only met him through SRS and only over the phone. We had taken to calling the membership a year or so ago – just to see how everyone was doing and to see if anything was on the minds of our members. One particular contact sticks out to this day. Somehow I got into a conversation that veered off on a tangent about where this member goes regularly – besides Slate Run. Imagine that, the gall of some people to go somewhere else than Slate Run – sheesh!
Well, the conversations took me to Maine and this member started going on and on… about his place in Maine. My right eyebrow raised about 2 millimeters (ok, that’s about eighty thousands (0.080″) of an inch for the ‘English System’ folks) when this detail was mentioned. He goes on and starts to talk about this stream, the “Grand Lake Stream” – where his place is located in Maine. My right eyebrow raises to about 90% of maximum! This sounds familiar. I let him go on… and on… while I walk to the hat rack and find this hat that I found on Cedar Run a year or two prior. Embroidered on it – it states “Grand Lake Stream”! No! This IS too coincidental.
This IS a re-hash of the “Mystery Hat” story that I’ve shared in the past and is posted somewhere in this blog’s past posts (Home page – search box “Mystery Hat” will take you there – or clicking on the word Mystery Hat here). The Mystery Hat’s owner is Mike Brunner – SRS member since 1996 according to our records and one heck of a fly fisherman. I figure he has to be as Mike shares the content of this post. Let’s start with a few flies that Mike has tied and shared the pictures of with us.
He fishes at his place in Maine for extended periods of time – more than up Slate Run these days. As a result you’ll find him there more than in Pennsylvania during the fishing season. Mike said he fished these flies on the “Grand Lake Stream (my home stream), West Branch Penobscot & many Downeast brookie streams, including for “salters” which are sea run brookies, they are fish catchers when I can still get back on the Pine & the Runs.” I’ve got to think at the very least some of these will definitely work in the Pine Creek Valley.
If you want an ‘eye-opener’ just take some macro pictures of your flies and examine them. I have the luxury of tying and then selecting the one fly that might be presentable to photograph and share in here. Taking pictures of your ties and examining them closely is a very humbling experience. Mike noted quickly how taking pictures of your ties doesn’t hide anything! Yep, I know this first hand from past experience. The most important aspect of tying is how the fish respond. They don’t seem to mind at all, at times at least. These flies look good to me.
I tell you what, if you think tying a smooth body and tinseling it is easy, then you need to try it or remember what it was like the first time you did so. I tried a couple of years ago and found out quickly that the underbody became very important very quickly. Then, trying to offset the tinsel in a perfect – and I mean PERFECT – spiral, it takes some ‘knack’ (‘knack’ – the learning curve taken when one tries to do something for the first time and finds that it’s going to take a LOT of practice before you get it right).
Dick Walle had a presented at a meeting I attended years ago and he talked all about soft hackle flies. I remember he spoke of the Partridge & Orange and the Partridge & Green. He swore by them.
When we had our annual telephone conversation, Mike shared how his fishing was this past year. He stated he caught 600… that’s right 6-0-0 fish this past year/season. I believe him! He said he returned to fishing the ‘old flies’ over the past season. If any of you have Ray Bergman’s book ‘Trout’, you know what I mean. Just look at those color plates and you’ll see all sorts of old-timie flies. Well, Mike took to tying those and fishing them this past year. And the fish responded in a big way I’d say.
Mike, the reference to our phone conversations going ‘on and on…’ – I hope they go on and on for many years to come! I’ll be looking forward to sharing how you’ve done, how Slate & Cedar Runs are doing and sharing anything you take pictures of – send them my way Mike!
If You Decide to Go to Maine…
Mike said to me that if any of you are up Maine way, and want to explore the area, to reach out to him if you’d like. Shoot us an email at email@example.com and I’ll get you in touch with Mike. I got to think he’s going to steer you straight based on his fishing this past year.
It is somewhat courageous to tie flies, take pictures of them, and then share them with someone. It’s even more courageous to share them with the multitudes. Mike – thanks so much for the fly pictures, the stories and for sharing your ties. I wish you good luck not only this coming season – but many more in the future. Take care Mike!
Until we see each other again – (I’ve never laid eyes on the guy before – lucky him I’d say)…UB
15 thoughts on “Friday Night Flies Presents….”
Love my wets .. great article and great ties
They have a place in everyone’s flybox – just my opinion. I have to give ALL the credit to SRS Mike Brunner on this post – he supplied the pictures and a bit of the backstory. Thanks for commenting brucerlcox! UB
My dad and uncles were member of SRS for many years 60’s-90’s sadly there all gone now. I’m a member now and have fished slate and Pine since 1968 . All of us camped and stayed in the Little cabin next to the slight run store. We stayed in that cabin until about 1970 , many times for a week in June . Around 1970 we discovered the West branch in the Penobscot River in Maine and fell in love with it and went there 20 years in a row in the 70s 80s. I’d like to talk to Mike sometime.
Hi Steven – thanks for commenting. I’ve sent you an email – just reply to that and we’ll go from there as far as connecting to Mike. Thanks for sharing some of your background with Maine and Slate Run. Take care and good luck in the upcoming fishing season. UB
EDIT- if you do not get an email from SRS – send me one to : firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work out the details on how to get in touch with Mike.
In my book Wings Over Water (2020), I presented a history of the Parmacheene Belle (pgs. 168-171) with tying recipe & personal reflections that you might find interesting. The fly remains a vibrant pattern for the brook trout angler, especially in Maine.
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I should have remembered that shouldn’t I have? Dang! Thanks for sharing that Rivertop Rambles! UB
The flies: like taking another peek into Bergman’s book, like revisiting a stream in Maine. I don’t remember what hat he was wearing while fishing on the Genesee, but I recall several pleasant conversations with M.B. while casting there.
Oh wow, so you’ve run into him on the Genny? Nice! If this happened within the past 2 years I’d say it wasn’t the ‘Mystery Hat’ he’d of been wearing – but maybe a cousin of it. Sounds like he had one heck of a year this past season. It was really nice to have heard that those flies worked so well on ‘today’s’ fish too. UB
edit: Hey I thanked everyone else so I thought I’d best come back and edit this one to do the same. Thanks Rivertop Rambles, for commenting, for following us, and for all the comments.
I don’t remember which hat I was wearing either – I have too many. I sure do miss fishing the Genny, especially from Shongo upstream. Haven’t seen her in years since we sold our camp on Sweden Hill (except on your blog). It was one of my favorite streams & I did enjoy running into you there. Keep posting those pictures & maybe I’ll get back one day.
Great to see the “traditional” flies tied by Mike Brunner. The old, somewhat forgotten, recipes from long gone masters, Blades, Bergman, Bates, Flick, Harvey, Fox, and my personal favorite, Ernie Schwiebert, DO produce as witnessed by Mikes 600 fish.
With todays synthetic tying materials, hook styles, beads and fishing styles, czech nymphing,etc are productive, most guides using them, and I admit using these techniques, our traditions still bring that extra “atta boy” feeling with successes using forgotten patterns.
Kudos to Mike!
Suggested reading …Fishing Flies and Fly Tying, Wm Blades 1951
Matching the Hatch, Schwiebert 1955
(blended fur patterns on pages 178 thru 211)
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I’ll have to look up that Blades book and check it out for sure. I remember sitting in a doctors office waiting room when I was about 12 years old, just sitting there bored out of my head when my Father let me borrow Bergman’s book. I looked at those plates a long time. Didn’t like reading much back then but those plates, they were something to admire and ponder on. Thanks for commenting ‘Neighbor’. UB
Nice flies. You definitely can’t go to Maine without a Parmacheene Belle!
I’ve not been to Maine but it’s good to see that the fish responded so well to the ‘old-timie’ traditional flies for sure. After I did a real cursory search on this fly, it sounds like it was invented in the mid-late 1800s. It seems that it may imitate the fin of the brook trout. Dang, them trout are carnivores aren’t they? To think that they’d go after a fin in hopes of a meal! Wow! Thanks for commenting Darrell! UB
Bigger trout are definitely predators. My favorite old-time fly to tie is called the Fontinalis Fin (an award-winner for me!). It literally translates into Brook Trout Fin.
Oh, and Parmacheene is a lake in Maine. The fly appears as #60 in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book “Favorite Flies and Their Histories”. All that and more are on the fifth card of my Old Favorite Lake Fly Tying Card set.