Ramblings of a Catskill Flyfisher

William Dorato and the Dorato Hare’s Ear

By TONY BONAVIST
Posted 3/11/20

Those of you that read this column may recall that the name William (Bill) Dorato; it has appeared several times. I first met Bill at the Rivers Edge Motel, along the East Branch of the Delaware in …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Ramblings of a Catskill Flyfisher

William Dorato and the Dorato Hare’s Ear

Posted

Those of you that read this column may recall that the name William (Bill) Dorato; it has appeared several times. I first met Bill at the Rivers Edge Motel, along the East Branch of the Delaware in Shinhopple during the mid-1980s. Bill showed up one late spring afternoon, driving a 1958 Ford Econoline van that frankly had seen better days. There were patches all over the body with various paint schemes covering those patches. I soon learned that Bill outfitted his van as a small camper, so if the fishing was good and he decided to fish another day, he had a place to sleep without driving home. 

I very quickly found Bill to be a real gentleman and a very good fly fisherman. It did not take us long to become friends and fish together. As we fished Catskill Rivers over the years, I learned a great deal from him. Some of you will remember my piece, “The downstream drift,” in the January 15 edition of The River Reporter. As noted in that article, l learned that technique from Bill.

As the years passed, I found Bill to be a very humble man, not one to brag or be a self-promoter. That’s the reason I did not learn about Bill’s contribution to the fly fishing world, the Dorato’s Hare Ear, until years after his passing in 2000. In fact, it was not until 2012 that Ed Ostapczuk, a member of the Ashokan-Pepacton Chapter of Trout Unlimited, contacted Del Bedinotti, one of Bill’s oldest friends, to inquire about the Dorato Hare’s Ear. I was involved in the conversation because I knew Bill for such a long time. What I did not know, despite all the time I spent with Bill, was the existence of that fly. Bill was obviously not inclined to talk about himself or the Dorato Hare’s Ear.

Anyway, Ed found out about the Dorato Hare’s Ear, through Dave Plummer, a member of the Dave Brandt Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

After speaking with all of us, Ed wrote a piece about the fly for the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild. Del provided Ed with a lot of the background about Bill, and I provided a photo of one of Bill’s original Hare’s Ears. 

Come to find out, the Dorato Hare’s Ear became such an effective pattern that Dick Talleur, a famous author and fly tier in his own right, mentioned it in his book “Mastering the Art of Fly-Tying.” In fact, the pattern became so famous that it was listed for sale in the Orvis Catalog. Sadly, it is no longer there. 

For those interested, this is the dressing Bill used for the Hare’s Ear:

Wings: a wood duck flank feather

Tail: brown and grizzly mixed, tied in very short; a hare’s ear mask with guard hairs, dubbed

Hackle: brown and grizzly mixed

Thread: black, brown or orange

If you’re like me and are a bit lazy when it comes to tying flies, skip the wings and use Cree hackle. It saves several steps and will work just fine. 

Anglers tie the pattern in hook sizes from 12 down to size 20. The Hare’s Ear is so effective that for many fly fishermen, it is their go-to fly when nothing else works. Some folks even fish it in very small sizes, during blue-winged olive hatches in late summer and early fall. Talk about matching the hatch? I’ve found the pattern extremely effective in sizes 14/16 during the buff caddies’ hatches in late April and early May. 

So that was our “Willie” as most of his good friends called him: humble to the end. I miss him every day.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment