Don Bastian, in his new DVD Tying Classic
Wet Flies, makes the observation, "One
thing that all these old wet flies have in
common is that they are really fun to tie."
So indeed they are, and there are none more
fun to tie than The Cleveland. I had a ball
tying this one, and the fly just seemed to
The Cleveland is of somewhat dubious origin.
From what I glean from Mary Orvis Marbury, her
company sent A.M. Cheney, the editor of "Shooting
and Fishing," some bass flies to try during his
stay at Schroon Lake, in upstate N.Y. He liked one,
had them change the wing, and they named it the
Cheney. Cheney was the Secretary of the "Texas Club,"
a club of three fly fishermen. Immediately the
Treasurer of the club, Mr. Cleveland, commissioned
his own fly from the Manchester, Vermont concern.
A nice fly with gallina wings was created, similar
to the Polka, named "The Cleveland," and sent out
to him. Everything seemed fine until Mr. Cleveland
met "the fly dresser" (I think Mary herself), and
he proclaimed "Now, honestly, don't you think you
put just a LITTLE more color into the Cheney fly
than you did into the Cleveland? Now answer me
frankly." He went on to ask the fly dresser to
"put a little more gilt on it than is on Cheney's."
The competitive nature of Cleveland had gotten the
better of him, and he was somewhat jealous of
Cheney's fly. So a new fly was created, all
dressed up, puffed up, and overblown, not unlike
Mr. Cleveland himself. Or as Mary Orvis Marbury
"This new Cleveland fly is an earnest endeavor
to construct a fly the embodiment of strength,
modesty, brilliancy, and other sterling merits,
traits that win and hold the friends of Mr.
William D. Cleveland outside as well as within
the Texas Club."
She put it a bit more delicately than I would
have, but she was, after all, a first rate
And so we have The Cleveland, quite a concoction
indeed, but the kind of fly that makes these
old flies as much fun as they are. This fly
uses many parts of the ring neck pheasant and
takes full advantage of those beautiful
feathers. Here is the recipe per J. Edson Leonard:
Tail: Peacock sword, barred wood duck and gold pheasant crest.
Credits: Favorite Flies and their Histories,
By Mary Orvis Marbury; Flies by J. Edson Leonard;
Tying Classic Wet Flies DVD, Don Bastian ~ Eric Austin
Tag: Gold tinsel.
Tip: Scarlet floss.
Butt: Pale green chenille.
Body: Gold tinsel.
Wing: Ring neck pheasant black-tipped side feather.
Shoulder (cheeks): Ringed pheasant body side feather.
Hackle: Ringed pheasant body side feather
(green, black, tan, and white rings).