Capital Region fly-tier extra-
ordinaire Bob Mead seems to have found a new outlet for his skills at the vise: crafting stand-ins for bugs on TV.
It was just about a year ago that the USA Network series “Royal Pains” contacted Mead with an urgent request for lifelike black widows for an episode where the handsome young doctor saves a Hamptons socialite from toxic arachnid doom.
In late September, the show’s prop master reached out to Mead again. This time, she needed yellow jackets — camera-worthy replicas, due at the show’s studio in Brooklyn in less than a week’s time.
“Since I never had tied a yellow jacket, it was a bit of a challenge,” Mead said.
He may never have tied a yellow jacket, but he’s tied hundreds of ladybugs, mosquitoes and his signature pattern, an amazingly lifelike praying mantis — all with traditional tying methods and techniques. These flies aren’t for fishing; Mead sells them to serious collectors for several hundred dollars apiece.
The “Royal Pains” prop master had used a fly-tier to make a stunt double a few years back. In 2010, when the script called for venomous spiders, she Googled New York fly-tiers and came up with the late Fran Betters, whose wife, Jan, sent her to Mead.
The black widows from that assignment must have earned rave reviews, because the show was back for a sequel. Mead, however, sweated the project for several days, inventing a realistic yellow jacket pattern as he went.
“I tried bunching up deer hair and thread, but the wraps showed through,” he said. “Then I cut and sanded little cork dowel pieces with tapered ends, but they just didn’t look right. That took care of Friday. Saturday, I found some yellow foam cylinders in little packets I had picked up somewhere. I shaved and tied down one end, and stuck a dubbing needle in the other end to hold it while I created the markings. I then dipped it in Flexament to kind of seal it, with a drying trip on the electric wheel with the foam disk. When they dried, I covered them in a thin layer of two-part epoxy and put them back on the wheel to dry evenly.”
And the stinger? “I heated a needle at the lower rear of the body and carefully cemented in a tiny fine tip of a porcupine quill,” he said. Mead then mounted the whole assembly on a size 14 hook, added legs made of fine chenille and wings, and sent his flies off for their screen test.
“You would not believe how relieved I was that they were on the way,” he said.
FRACKERS’ OWN WORDS
“Outrage and conflict occur because the project may create visual impacts, loss to property values or negative impacts to lifestyle.” No, this was no tree-hugger warning about the perils of hydrofracking for natural gas. This was a consultant, Certus Strategies, writing in a report prepared for a gas industry summit in Pennsylvania in 2009.
You’re correct, consultant, that’s exactly why outrage and conflict occur. And if you ask a trout fisherman, it also occurs because fracking has the potential to do serious damage to trout streams and forever alter the character of the countryside that generations of New York sportsmen have treasured.
The consultant’s advice? “Manage conflict and community outrage.” “Manage the regulatory process and relationships” and my favorite, “Acquire permits with minimal delays.”
It seems to have worked in Pennsylvania, and it looks like it will soon start working here.
Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at [email protected]
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