Bergman Conversions

Published Dec 2nd 2006

Converting a fly from one form to another is certainly an educational process, as it requires you to look at materials in a new way, especially the wing materials. A wet fly that calls for a wing of mallard flank or mottled turkey has no obvious equivalent in a hairwing.


It all started with Raske.

Way back when, before Raske's Streamer Page joined GFF, he popped up with a feature where he took some traditional and well known atlantic salmon fly patterns and adapted them to streamer form. A few years later, we followed that lead with another feature where we did something similar, only this time instead of converting the patterns to featherwing streamers, we tied bucktails along the lines of "little bucktails for brookies".

I guess it's only natural that we followed this path to the classic wet flies made popular by Ray Bergman's seminal book "Trout". In the winter of 2004, the gang of streamers@ held a swap of flies where each tyer would submit a "conversion" of a classic wet fly pattern into bucktail form, and optionally the pattern tied in it's natural wet fly form.

Converting a fly from one form to another is certainly an educational process, as it requires you to look at materials in a new way, especially the wing materials. A wet fly that calls for a wing of mallard flank or mottled turkey has no obvious equivalent in a hairwing fly, so the tyer has to sort through their bins of junk looking for something that strikes there eyes.

Before we move on to the flies, I think it is worthwhile to spend a few moments reflecting on the life of Ray Bergman and his contributions to the world of fly fishing. For that, we turn to the words of Don Bastian, who's credentials are beyond compare when it comes to Ray Bergman and his flies.

Ray Bergman wrote four books.

Just Fishing (1932)
Trout (1938)
Fresh Water Bass (1942)
With Fly, Plug, and Bait (1947)

Trout is the only fishing book ever written to remain continuously in print for more than 50 years. The first edition was reprinted 13 times. Second edition (1952) revised, enlarged, with two new chapters on spinning. Third edition of Trout was done in 1978. In the year 2000 the Derrydale Press published a fourth edition with a new forward by Gary LaFontaine. "Trout" in all its volumes and editions has sold more than 225,000 copies; a feat that will probably never be surpassed by a fishing book. The first edition of Trout was entirely a fly fishing book. When

Trout was published, it contained the largest collection of illustrated fishing flies ever published, more than 600 patterns; 440 of which are classic wet flies. All the color plate paintings in Bergman's books were painted by Dr. Edgar Burke, noted author, artist.

Bergman was angling editor of Outdoor Life magazine from 1934 until 1959 when he retired. Born 1981, died 1967. His name and gravesite was just this past year, placed on a "Cemetery Tour" of notable people in the history of the area of Nyack, NY, the place where Bergman was born, lived, and died.

He operated a mail-order fly tackle business called "Ray Bergman's Angling Specialties" from 1934 until he retired. He had his own line of fly tying hooks made by the Martinez Company in Redditch, England, sold as Nyack Brand, Ray Bergman Fly Tying Hooks. There were Red Label, Blue Label, Yellow Label, and others.

Before and throughout his tenure with Outdoor Life Bergman made annual fishing trips across the UNited States and Canada. He along with his wife, Grace, fished for all types of fish in nearly every state in the country. His favorite method was dry fly fishing to rising trout with flies he personally tied. However, he was not about placing a worm on the hook when all else failed.

As Angling Editor of Outdoor Life, Bergman wrote about all types of fishing with all methods. His position with this popular magazine at a time when there were no fly fishing publications on the market had much to do with the fact that Ray Bergman was practically a household name during his later years of life.

Don Bastian
March 2006


Tied by Al Grombacher

Tag: Silver Tinsel Body: Scarlet Floss
Rib: Flat Silver Tinsel Throat: Scarlet
Wing: White Saddle Hackles

Tied by Lindsey Grandison

Tag: Gold Tinsel Body: Crimson Floss
Rib: Gold Tinsel Throat: White Bucktail
Wing: Yellow over Black over Yellow synthetic

Bergman Fontinalis
Tied by Tim Giglio

Tag: Silver Tinsel Body: Grey Floss
Rib: Orange Floss and Oval Silver Tinsel Throat: Mallard
Wing: Orange Bucktail, topped with sparse black bucktail and
sparse white bucktail

Blue Jay
Tied by Ron McKusick

Hook: Mustad 3399A #6 Tag: Flat Gold Tinsel Tail: Golden Pheasant Tippet
Body: Orange Floss Rib: Flat Gold Tinsel Throat: Orange Hackle
Wing: gray squirrel tail hair dyed kingfisher blue Shoulder: Asian Kingfisher shoulder feather
Eye: Jungle cock Head: Black Lacquer

Tied by Bob Petti

Body: Yellow Floss Rib: Flat Gold Tinsel Throat: Mixed Orange and
Yellow Hackle Wing: Gray Squirrel Tail

Tied by Chris Del Plato

Head: Black Tail: Scarlet Schlappen over Yellow Schlappen
Body: Flat Silver Tinsel Rib: Oval Silver Tinsel Throat: Black Schlappen
Wing: Dark Marten/Sable Tail Cheek: Jungle Cock

Tied by Stack Scoville

Tail: Black, White, Scarlet Polar Bear, mixed
Scarlet Wool Rib: Flat Silver Tinsel
Hackle: Scarlet, palmered
Wing: Scarlet, Black, and White Mixed

Tied by Monte Smith

Hook: Daiichi 2340, #6 Tail: Red schlappen Body: Black silk
Ribs: Medium flat silver, followed by orange silk; counterwrapped with fine silver wire
Hackle: Orange, wrapped and tied under as throat Wing: Siberian squirrel tail

Prime Gnat
Tied by Warren Duncan

Tag: Silver Tinsel Tail: Black Quill Tip: Orange Floss
Black Ostrich Herl Throat: Black
Wing: Black Quill Cheek: Jungle Cock

Rio Grand King
Tied by Glenn Seibert

Tail: Yellow Bucktail Body: Black Chenille
Throat: Yellow Bucktail Wing: White Marabou and Pearl Krystal Flash

<Sassy Cat
Tied by Steve Delaney Jr

Tail: Red Hackle Barbs Body: Peacock Herl
Hackle: Yellow
Wing: Yellow Saddle Hackle w/ Scarlet Hackle Cheek

Telephone Box
Tied by Richard Connors

Tail: Golden Pheasant Tippet Butt: Peacock Herl
Body: Orange Floss Rib: Black Floss
Throat: Brown Hackle Wing: Natural Red Squirrel Tail

User comments
From: Petri Heil aka George Butts · gfbpetriheil·at·  Link
Submitted February 15th 2011

Bergman's book "Trout" was the third book on fly fishing I bought in the period after WWII. A classmate of mine at the New York State Ranger School (1950) was the next door neighbor of Bergman. Never met Bergman but my clasmate had my book signed by him. My classmatge said that Bergman was a most friendly person to anglers and answered all letters. At one trime he was so busy answering letters that he had no time to fish and suffered what might becalled a nervlous breakdown. The plates in that book are still of great value to tyers.

From: benjamin king  Link
Submitted May 18th 2008

also Noe, castle arms fly has grade B capes(what you would use if you were goig to fish flies) for 60 dollars.

From: John Horsfall · jthorsfall·at·  Link
Submitted March 16th 2008

Hi there Noe, I don't know where you're from but as you obviously have Internet access.

Go to ebay, fly fishing section, then fly tying and you won't go far wrong.

Buy a cape if you can afford it, but watch the prices they go for over a week or so before you start bidding.

Look for colour, number and size of eyes to suit the style of flies you are tying also look closely for damaged or split eyes as that will affect the price.

Colour generally should be a warm orangey brown, the paler the colour the cheaper the cape.

From: Noe Garcia · www.reapermex·at·  Link
Submitted March 16th 2008

HI Iam looking for jungle cock eyes. Can you help me find them. Thank You.

From: Kyle Watton · outdoorsmen·at·  Link
Submitted April 23rd 2007

Can you show me step by step how to make some flies becaues i'm a beginner but really good flies too thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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