Upfront Notes

Upfront Notes

  • By: Joe Healy
joe photo.jpg

I met Dave Hughes about a decade ago, when we were both editing fly-fishing magazines (neither was FR&R). Dave had recently taken up his editorship, and in doing so was obligated to stop writing the Fly-Fishing Success column for this magazine, which he had contributed since 1993. I had known Dave’s writing for some time—learned a lot about fly-fishing from him, in fact—and we hit it off as fellow editors and writers, though I don’t hold a candle to his long list of book credits, including the classic Western Hatches with Rick Hafele, American Fly Tying Manual, Handbook of Hatches, Reading Trout Water, Dry Fly Fishing, Nymph Fishing and the massive reference guide Trout Flies. His latest book, published in 2009, is Nymphs for Streams and Stillwaters.

I’m delighted to re-introduce Dave as our newest columnist: Practical & Useful appears on page 30. “It’s great to be back to my favorite magazine, and to doing my favorite thing: going fishing, coming home, writing about what happened out there,” Dave says. “It’s a privilege to return to being a part of what I consider the greatest gathering of the finest writers in fly-fishing: they’re thoughtful and brilliant and great fishermen, so they know about what they write about; but above all, they’re, to me, excellent writers, and the best writers have always been my heroes.”

How will this column compare with his Success columns (which were collected for our edification and repeated consumption in his 2002 book Taking Trout from Stackpole Books)? “The original Success column was focused on a single rig or method or aspect of attitude, the knowledge of which might improve the readers’ success, measured, as I often put it rather bluntly, in terms of ‘more and larger trout.’ I’ll be covering the same thing in the new column: Some new rig, technique, fly or fly style but more important how to fish it, or some aspect of observation or interpretation, that will improve the readers’ success, again measured in terms of fish caught. My hope is that most columns will arise from trips I’ve taken, new waters I’ve fished, new folks I’ve fished with, and new things I’ve learned from those waters, from those anglers, from our fish—things that are new to me.”

Dave hastened to add: “The main thing I’d like to share: We spend too much of our time now trying to assure ourselves about what we’ll find when we get to wherever we’re going—water conditions, hatches, certainty of catching fish. We should be careful to wing it more often, go somewhere as an exploration, without expectation, with the ability to respond to whatever the world of water and fish might throw at us…to get surprised. I’ve always thought that we fish not as much for fish as we fish for surprise.”

Some Web news: Please take a moment to check flyrodreel.com for our new Trout Annual 2010 online digital publication, which will be posted on our home page in early July. This flip-through digital magazine has original content on fly-fishing skills and localized know-how on the Golden Triangle streams (as author Greg Thomas calls them) of Montana and Yellowstone country, plus a bonus Sporting Life column by John Gierach. Fresh, useful, entertaining and, yes, surprising information for 2010.