Monday, July 21, 2008

The Return of Old Friends

Perceptive readers of the Eddy know my love for all things Gary Lafontaine. So imagine my pleasure at opening the home page for and having the Internet superstore recommend a new book for me: Lafontaine's Legacy. Billed as "the last flies from an American master" this book contains many of the patterns Gary was working on throughout the final years of his life. Unable to resist, I stopped by the local bookstore on the way home from work and spent twenty minutes checking it out (my wallet is locked shut for the moment, so I left empty handed).

While its certainly a not a 'Gary Lafontaine' book in the tradition of The Dry Fly and Caddisflies (the book was penned by Al and Gretchen Beatty), its certainly worth adding to your collection as it contains many patterns that build on some of Gary's most fascinating concepts of fly design. Another figure essential to the book is Paul Stimpson, a fly tyer who became close to Gary and tied many of his patterns at shows throughout the country after Gary became to ill to tie on his own. While Gary described the fly (and told remarkable stories like those that fill his own books), Paul tied Gary's flies. I was lucky enough to attend a fly tying demo put on by Paul last winter. It was fascinating to listen to his tales of how Lafontaine field tested the flies and his passion for fishing, which burned long after his disease robbed him of the sport. It was at that demo that I first heard the term 'double magic'. The Beatty's describe the concept along with the patterns where it is employed. If you are a Lafontaine fan and you have never heard of 'double magic', its certainly worth exploring. If you do, please share your experiences with the Eddy.

The only the place the book falls short is in the writing, and what it must try to measure up to. I don't fault Al and Gretchen Beatty, they did a reasonable job. But Lafontaine's books are full of dry humor, wit, and a little bit of the fantastic, as well as mind bending concepts that often leave me shaking my head in their simplicity and their intelligence. For me, opening a Lafontaine book is kind of like stepping into a carnival: I never know what to believe, but I know I will be entertained. Try as they might the Beatty's just couldn't match that feeling. Still, this book is worth buying. I'll be saving my change.

Another old friend made a reappearance recently. The Best Fly Fishing Yellowstone blog, which signed off a few months ago, came back from the dead better than ever. If you're not familiar with these folks, check 'em out. They've definitely got their fingers on the pulse of fly fishing in the Yellowstone region.

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