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Fly-Tyers' Roundtable

Judy Van Put
Posted 9/27/22

An exciting event, the Catskill Fly-Tyers’ Roundtable, was hosted by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum on Saturday, September 24, 2022 . Sponsored by the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild, …

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Fly-Tyers' Roundtable


An exciting event, the Catskill Fly-Tyers’ Roundtable, was hosted by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum on Saturday, September 24, 2022 . Sponsored by the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild, Trout Unlimited and the CFFC&M, a sizable crowd of fly-tiers, fly-fishing historians and  interested onlookers  assembled in the Wulff Gallery from 11 am - 4 pm for the Open House fly-tying sessions and demonstrations, as well as the Roundtable discussion on the history and tradition of Catskill-style flies. The event was a perfect melange of old and new, with veteran fly-tiers and anglers sitting alongside younger anglers and fly-tiers, exchanging ideas and techniques, asking and answering questions, sharing artifacts and historical stories.

Joe Ceballos, of the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild, and Pat Crisci, of the Mid-Hudson Chapter of Trout Unlimited,  introduced the Round Table discussion of  Catskill fly-fishing historians and Master Fly-Tyers that were featured,  including Del Mazza, Dave Catizone, Tom Mason, John Shaner, “Catskill” John Bonasera, and Seth Cavarretta, whose beautiful dry flies were perfectly tied despite having one hand bound up in a cast. In addition to the featured speakers, fly-tyers on hand included Catskill Fly-Tyers Guild members John Apgar, Rod Futerfas, Galen Wilkens, Frank Payne, Mark Sturdevant, Mike Stewart, Aaron Stewart, rodmaker Mike Canazon ; also present was Ward Blade, who has the distinction of being taught how to tie flies by Roy Steenrod many years ago when Ward attended the DeBruce Conservation Camp as a young boy of about 14 years of age. Ward lived in Liberty at the time, and the elder Roy befriended the youngster, who lived within walking distance of the Steenrod home, and encouraged him to tie flies, sharing his knowledge and techniques. The audience was treated to discussion and reminiscences of those early days in Catskill-style fly-tying by Ward, Del Mazza and John Shaner, as well as Ed Van Put, with a number of questions being asked and answered. Favorite flies were discussed, along with techniques for tying them, discussions of fly-tying materials such as hackle (modern versus old-style) and thread, and suggestions of which were best to use and why. Also brought up by Ward Blade was the fact that when the Catskill School of Fly Tying was being formed, most local tiers, such as Rube Cross, Art Flick, Walt Dette and Harry Darbee, raised their own roosters for hackle feathers. And today, many Catskill fly-tiers still raise chickens for that purpose; experienced fly-tiers will affirm that the best feathers for tying dry flies are obtained from roosters that are at least two years old.

Dave Catizone brought a nice collection of Catskill-style flies tied by Harry and Elsie Darbee, Walt and Winnie Dette, Mary Dette, Theodore Gordon and Herman Christian, as well as boxes of beautiful flies he tied himself, to share with the appreciative group.

About two dozen fly-tyers were present at the large table - many years past, fly-tyers were present at a round table (thus the name) this year’s large group was seated along the sides and back of the Wulff Gallery with tables arranged in a U-shaped format, with members of the audience in the center, to encourage participation and enable onlookers to be able to see all that was going on. At the end of the afternoon each fly-tyer donated one of the flies they tied and a group photo was taken; all of which will be assembled and made into a shadowbox frame by Peter Leitner, and will be presented to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum as a fundraising item to be auctioned off  at a later date. The event was a resounding success, as was attested by the enthusiastic group.


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