Quoting Fly Patterns and Their Origins by
Harold Hinsdill Smedley, "This fly of Henry P. Wells, 1842-1904, by
his admission, is "his own child." This fly, "born" about 1878,
was named after Parmacheene Lake, in the Pine Tree State, Maine,
favorite fishing locale of Mr. Wells when fishing for ouananiche
[land-locked salmon]. The lake was name after Parmacheene, son
of the Indian chief Metalluk.
Henry P. Wells, born in Providence, R.I., served in the Army 1863-65,
13th N.Y. Artillery; and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1869.
He wrote Fly Rods and Fly Tackle, the most authoritative
book of its kind up to that time, 1885, and still good. He also wrote
American Salmon Fishing, 1886. Wells was president of
the National Rod and Reel Association in 1887-1889.
He was one of the first to advocate steel for rods, an idea carried
out by Everett Horton, who patented a steel rod on March 8, 1887.
The Parmacheene was supposed to imitate the fin [belly] of a trout.
There is no practical difference between this fly and the Gold Ibis.
[The Gold Ibis has no rib.]
In 1940 Phil Armstrong of Detroit made a freak fly to imitate exactly
the fin of a brook trout. He started with a fly that had an actual
trout fin for a wing and from that copied it with dyed goose quill
It was just a stunt until he found out it took fish. Armstrong name it
the "Sweeney Fontinalis," after his friend, John Sweeney, of Detroit."
According to Mary Orvis Marbury, from her correspondence with Mr. Wells,
he recommended the fly for sea trout as well. She comments "we have
astonishing reports of its success in all waters."
Like so many of the old and traditional flies there are many variations
proported to be 'original.' The late Dick Surette and Harold Hinsdill Smedley
both give this dressing:
Traditional Parmacheene Belle
Other variations include a butt, body of yellow or red wool, tail of
swan married in red and white, cheek of jungle cock, head of red or
black. The fly is also tied on tandem hooks.
Hook: Mustad #3906, sizes 6-14.
Thread: Black-silk, monocord or nylon.
Tail: Red and white hackle barbules, mixed.
Body: Yellow silk floss.
Rib: Gold tinsel, flat.
Throat: Red and white hackle barbules, mixed.
Wings: Married, red on tip, one quarter. White on
bottom, three quarters.
Variation (shown) Parmachene Belle
Tied by Greg Nault
You may have noticed the second 'variation' above, has also changed
the spelling of the name slightly too. There is yet another version
called the Parmachene Beau! ~ DLB
Tail: Red and white swan married together with the
red at the top. Omit if this fly is tied as a tandem streamer.
Butt: Three or four turns peacock herl (optional).
Body: Dark yellow wool.
Rib: Narrow oval silver tinsel (both Bates and Leiser use
flat gold tinsel).
Throat: One red and one white neck hackle wound on
mixed as a collar and gathered downward.
Wings: Three married sections equally wide, white, red and
white, extending just beyond the tail (Blades variation uses scarlet and
white hackles, with scarlet on top; for tandem trolling fly, Leiser
Shoulder: (For tandem streamers only) White over red
Cheeks: Jungle cock.
Credits: Quoted text from Fly Patterns and Their Origins.
Fly photo and dressing from Forgotten Flies, published by Complete