John, tell us a little bit about porportions on these classics. It may have been a while, if ever, that some of the younger members here have tied a classic Catskill tie.
I think Harry Darbee described it best...
"Its characteristics a good sized hook, typically size 12 model perfect; a notably lean, spare body, usually of spun fur or stripped quill of peacock herl; a divided wing of lemon wood duck flank feather; and a few sparse turns of incredibly stiff, clean, glassy cock's hackle, mostly either blue dun or ginger. The wings and hackle are set back from the eye of the hook, leaving an unusually clean "neck" at the expense of a shortened body. This puts the sustaining hackle so close to the point of balance that the fly rides over broken, turbulent water like a Coast Guards lifeboat, so nearly balanced that often the tail of hackle wisk doesn't touch the water at all"
I notice that many of the "Catskill" flies I see in shops bins are heavily overdressed, partly because much of the tradition is lost through time and somewhat because when buying flies, buyers want heavy dressings. In really fast headwater streams, a bushy fly works very well for flotation [though I find that heavy dressings inhibit hook sets on the smallish trout we target in those waters!]
I usually use 10 turns of hackle which sounds like a lot, but its 5 turns for 2 feathers, and the hackle I use is more "old school" and not the densely fibered genetic hackle of today. Back when Harry was tying, you only had about an inch of good feather right at the tip, the rest was web. They sometimes used 3 or 4 feathers on a heavily dressed fly like the Coffin Fly or the Dun Variant.
Harrys description is good, almost perfect actually but glaringly obvious is the fact that he left out quill wings and floss bodies, and a host of other materials. I think it's a pretty accurate view of the Catskill style,
Anyway Spence, I know you asked for a "little bit" sorry to be so long winded! CJ