I have little historical information on this fly. I
decided not to let it stop me. It's one I've wanted
to do for some time, and I finally got to it. Wolfgang
Von Malottke credits this fly to Major Traherne on his
web site. That would make it one of the few Traherne flies
with a mixed or married wing. The majority of the Traherne
flies with which I'm familiar are made with large, full
The wing on this one was made with swan and Amherst
pheasant tail. Swan is harder and harder to come by
as time moves on, especially swan large enough to
anything much bigger than a 3/0 fly. More and more
tiers have moved to turkey, and it's possible to do
very large flies with it. Tying with turkey I find
to be somewhat easier in some ways, but not quite
as satisfying, at least not for me. Swan has a
translucency that I like very much, and large flies
done with swan have a very airy quality to them that
is exceptionally beautiful. Life is change I guess,
but we don't have to like it. Here is the recipe for
the Fra Diavolo:
Credits: Classicflies.com website, by Wolfgan Von Malottke.
Tag: Silver twist, light yellow silk.
Tail: Gold pheasant crest.
Body: One-third red orange silk, ribbed fine silver
tinsel; veiled with two Indian crow feathers above and
below; butted black Ostrich. Front part, light blue silk
ribbed broad silver lace with a light blue hackle along.
Throat: Yellow macaw.
Wing: White tip turkey tail, Amherst tail, red macaw,
swan dyed green macaw and two toppings.
Sides: Wood duck and jungle cock.
Cheeks: A Chatterer or Kingfisher.
Hackle: Yellow macaw.
Horns: Blue and yellow.
I started fly fishing as a teen in and around my hometown
of Plattsburgh, New York, primarily on the Saranac River.
I started tying flies almost immediately and spent hours
with library books written by Ray Bergman, Art Lee, and
A. J. McClane. Almost from the beginning I liked tying
just as much as I liked fishing and spent considerable
time at the vise creating hideous monstrosities that
somehow caught fish anyway. Then one day I came upon a
group of flies that had been put out at a local drug store
that had been tied by Francis Betters of Wilmington, N.Y.
My life changed that day and so did my flies, dramatically.
Even though I never met Fran back then, I've always
considered him to be one of my biggest influences.
I had a career in music for twenty years or so and didn't
fish much, though I did fish at times. The band I was with
had its fifteen seconds of fame when we were asked to be in
John Mellencamp's movie "Falling From Grace." I am the
keyboard player on the right in the country club scene in
the middle of the movie. Don't blink. It's on HBO all the
time. We got to meet big Hollywood stars and record in John's
studio. It was a blast.
So how did I wind up contributing to the Just Old Flies
column on FAOL? I'm not sure, it was something that I simply
wanted very badly to do, and they let me. Many of the old flies
take me back to the Adirondacs and my youth, and I guess I get
to relive some of it through the column. I've spent many happy
hours fishing and tying over the years, and tying these flies
brings back memories of great days on the water, and intense
hours spent looking at the flies in the fly plates in the old
books and trying to get my flies to look like them. And now,
here I am, still doing that to this day. ~ EA