The Dettes: A Catskill Legend by Eric Leiser

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  • Regular price $100.00

This copy contains signatures from Walt, Winnie, Mary and Eric Leiser. It also includes a personalized inscription by Joan Stoliar.


Theodore Gordon, Herman Christian, Roy Steenrod, Rube Cross, Walt Dette, Winniw Dette, Harry Darbee, Elsie Darbee, Mary Dette Clark...

These are the names behind the Catskill tradition of fly-tying, links in a chain now stretching for almost a century. But the chain might have been broken in 1927 had it not been for Walt Dette.

In that year, Walt approached Rube Cross and offered $50 to be taught to tie flies. "I also told him that if he taught me, I wouldn't tie flies commercially and even promised not to share his techniques with others," says Walt. "He told me to go to hell." The art of tying flies was a jealously guarded secret at the time.

Undaunted and determined, the young Dette learned the Cross method by painstakingly untying and retying Cross, and other, flies. In so doing, he made himself master of the art and kept the treadition alive.

Unlike Cross, however, Walt, Winnie, and in turn their daughter Mary (the last in this long line) share the techniques with any and all. In fact, their techniques have spread from the East to the South and West, and just about anyong tying flies today has, in some fashion, been influenced by Walt's untying of the Cross flies. 

This is the story of the Dette family and the events that took place during the evolution of the Catskill flies. Importantly, the simple, highly efficient tying techniques used by the Dettes to produce their exquisite Catskill flies are detailed in sequential photographs and line drawings for the first time.