Wes Autio - Brook Trout Pattern Feature

By Doug Saball

Brook Trout Patterns Logo

Submitted By Wes Autio

Parmacheene Belle (Modern) Image

Parmacheene Belle (Modern)

  • Hook:  Tiemco, TMC 5263, #6
  • Thread:  Uni-Thread, black, 8/0 and 6/0
  • Tail:   Married goose shoulder feather fibers, red over white
  • Body:  Yellow wool yarn, ribbed with oval silver tinsel
  • Beard:  Red and white hackle wrapped and pulled down
  • Wing:  Married goose shoulder feather fibers, white over red over white
  • Head:  Finished with black Cellire
Parmacheene Belle (Original) Image Parmacheene Belle (Orvis) Image
Parmacheene Belle (Original)
Parmacheene Belle (Orvis)
Parmacheene Belle (Bucktail) Image Parmacheene Beau Image
Parmacheene Belle (Bucktail)
Parmacheene Beau

Wes's Comments On these Patterns

As fly fishermen and fly tiers, we continually search for the best fly for the particular situation.  If someone tells me that fly X is just the one for the Y River in the month of Z, I search out its pattern, tie it, and give it a try.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not (probably more often the latter).  For me, interest in these flies wax and wane, but I guess that this is the nature of the sport.  It certainly adds to the enjoyment, both in tying and fishing.  The flies, however, that I never lose interest in are the classics, the ones that have been used widely for many years and seem to really work, at least some of the time.  Moreover, many of them are beautiful.  The Parmacheene Belle is one of these flies. I don’t care whether or not it catches fish, I simply like it.  Having been born and brought up in Maine, I have a particular interest in those flies tied for brook trout in Maine.  The Parmacheene Belle was first tied by Henry Wells of Providence, Rhode Island in 1878 (the same year that the Royal Coachman was first tied) for fishing in the Rangely Region of western Maine.  As Mr. Wells describes it, he and his regular guide, John Danforth, spent many hours tying and fishing various flies.

Often the fly-tying box is produced, and the word is, “Well, John, what shall we tease them with this afternoon?”  Thus, on joint suggestion, very many different combinations have been tried, and so some seven years ago (written in 1885) was the “Parmacheene Belle” born.

It was supposed by Mr. Wells that the Parmacheene Belle mimicked a brook trout fin, a popular cut bait of the time, hence its inclusion in this collection of brook trout patterns.  Its name came from Lake Parmachenee, in northern Oxford County in western Maine.  (I have retained Mr. Wells’ spelling, which varies from the modern spelling of Parmachenee.)  Mr. Wells
liked the Parmacheene Belle very much and used it most of the time for fishing the area within which it was derived.
Place the whole catalogue of known flies on one hand, and this single fly on the other, and force me to choose and confine myself to the choice, and for fishing in those waters I would choose the “Parmacheene Belle” every time.

 Mr. Wells describes the fly in his writings, but the first color representation of the Parmacheene Belle appeared in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories.  Various forms of the fly have been tied over the years, including those depicted in Bates’ Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing, in H. Clepper’s and R. Talleur’s magazine articles (listed in the bibliography), and in a number of books of trout fly patterns. However, I am unsure of what the original version looked like.  Wells’ description does not accurately match the rendering in Marbury’s book, even though Wells must have shared flies with C. F. Orvis, who tied the ones illustrated in the book.  The flies tied for this article include one that resembles the C. F. Orvis version and a “best-guess” original version that combines Wells’ written description, the Orvis version, and some details mentioned in sections of Marbury’s book discussing other flies.  The “modern” version of the Parmacheene Belle depicted here is tied after the one in Bates’ book.  Additionally, Bates mentions the tying of a bucktail version.  Although I found no pattern for the bucktail version, I assume that it was tied much like the one included here.  The origin of the Parmacheene Beau is unclear to me.  Bates attributes it to Mr. Wells, and Marbury states emphatically that it could not have been created by Mr. Wells.  To further complicate the issue, Marbury describes the Beau as a Belle with jungle-cock-eye cheeks (eyes being clearly ridiculous on fly intended to imitate a fin), and Bates describes it as a Belle with a silver tinsel rather than yellow wool body.  Regardless, it was derived from the Parmacheene Belle and very soon after the Belle’s inception.   The Parmacheene Beau represented here is similar to Bates’ version.

Tying Instructions - "Modern" Parmacheene Belle

1.  Wrap a good base of thread (8/0) from the eye back to the bend of the hook.

2.  Select a matched pair of red and of white goose shoulder feathers.  The two individuals of each pair will have stems that curve in opposite directions.  The best sections will be those that have long fibers with even ends.  Select 1/16"-wide sections of fibers from the left side on one of the individuals and from the right side of the other in each pair.  You should end up with two pieces of red and two pieces of white, all similar in size, except one piece of red and one of white curve one way and the
others curve the opposite way.

3.  When the feather pieces are tied onto the fly, the ends should curve upward.  I will refer to the orientation of sections as they would appear on the fly.  Of the four pieces of goose feathers, place the red and white pieces with similar curves together, with the red piece on top.  The tips of the fibers should be even.  Stroke these two pieces until the fibers join (marry) as if they were part of the same feather.  You should end up with two sections, similar in width and each half red and half white.

4.  Place these two sections “back to back,” that is with the tips of both pieces curving inward and upward and with the tips aligned.

5.  Carefully hold this tail section on top of the hook (the tail length should be about 2/3 of the length of the hook shank).  Make a loose wrap of thread.  Pinch the wrap, and hold the feather section very tightly while pulling upward to tighten it in place.  Before letting go, make a few more similar wraps in front of the first one.  Generally, I like to wrap thread around the but ends of the tail fibers to about 3/16" from the eye.  Doing this makes it easier for me to create an even body.

6.  Tie the oval tinsel and wool yarn on the underside of the hook 3/16" from the eye.  Keeping both underneath, wrap the thread to the point at which the tail is tied in, being careful not to go behind the first tail wrap.  Wrap the thread back to 3/16" from the eye.  Wrap the wool from the tail to 3/16" from the eye, tie it off, and then rib the body with the oval tinsel.  Tie this material off at 3/16" from the eye.

7.  Select red and white hackle feathers that have fibers about 1.5 times the hook gape.  Tie these in at about 3/16" from the eye, by the tips and with the white feather on top.  Wrap the hackle as you would on a dry fly, first the white and then the red.  Tie these off and stroke the feathers downward.  Wrap thread back over some of the front hackle to make sure that it angles to the back of the fly.  Sometimes, to make this process easier, I strip the barbules off one side of the feathers.

8.  For the wing, repeat the process described above for the tail, except that the wing will have a white section on top.  Also, each section should be about 1/8" wide.  The tip of the wing should be approximately even with the tip of the tail.  Before tying this in, I switch to 6/0 thread.  I have a difficult time making this stay upright without holding the wing very tightly, and pulling the tying thread very hard, thus requiring the stronger thread.  After tying the wing in place, make sure to wrap enough of the ends so that trimming the but ends of the fibers does not move the wing.

9.  If a smaller head is desired, switch back to 8/0 thread at this point and finish the head.  Apply a penetrating head cement, and finish with a glossy cement, like black Cellire.

Tying the Alternatives

The Orvis version of the Parmacheene Belle was tied much the same as the “modern” version described above.  I tied it on a Mustad 36890 (#6) salmon hook, because I did not have any blind eye hooks.  Of what I had available, the salmon hook best matched the hooks used in the late 1800's.  This version included a peacock herl butt tied in before the body was wrapped.
Yellow mohair was used to wrap the body, rather than wool.  The mohair was clipped a bit after wrapping.  The body was ribbed with flat silver tinsel.  Each side of the wing has only two sections (red over white), rather than three.  Red thread (Uni-Thread 8/0) was used, and the head was lacquered with clear Cellire. 

The “original” version is much like the Orvis version.  I did not include the peacock herl butt, and the wing was not made of married sections.  It was tied on as two matched, wide, white sections and a thin red section held on each side.  After tying the wing on, it was split. Marbury suggests that Wells preferred the wing to be split.  I used black thread (Uni-thread 8/0) and black Cellire to finish the head. 

The bucktail version was tied on a Tiemco TMC 300 (#6) hook.  The body was constructed of yellow wool wrapped with oval silver tinsel, and the throat was mixed red and white hackle fibers.  The wing has three equal portions of bucktail, white over red over white.  The head was finished with black thread (Uni-thread 8/0) and black Cellire. 

The Parmacheene Beau was tied in a similar manner to that described above for the Belle.  The only variation is in the body.  Rather than wool, the body was wrapped with flat silver tinsel ribbed with oval silver tinsel. Otherwise the fly is the same.


Bates, J. D., Jr. 1995.  Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.

Clepper, H. 1973.  Homage to a Trout Fly.  Trout 14(1):10-11, 34, 36.

Marbury, M. O. 1892.  Favorite Flies and Their Histories. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Schullery, P.  1999.  Royal Coachman, The Lore and Legends of Fly Fishing. Simon & Schuster, New York.

Talleur, R. 1995.  The Belle of Lake Parmachenee.  American Angler 18(6):60-63.

Wells, H. P. 1885.  Fly-rods and Fly-tackle, Suggestions as to Their Manufacture and Use.  Harper & Brothers, New York.

Wells, H. P. 1889.  Fly Fishing for Trout in the Rangely Region.  p. 87-99.  In: C. F. Orvis and A. N. Cheney. Fishing with the Fly. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

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