- By: Joe Healy
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.
- By: Joe Healy
We published a short first-person essay by fly fisher Peter Harrison in the March 2010 issue (page 18 of the “Short Casts” section) titled “Steelhead and Wind Knots,” which included an introduction by Fly Rod & Reel editor-at-large Joan Wulff. The piece brought some feedback… enough for a follow-up comment.
- By: Joe Healy
Upgrading the magazine for you, our readers.
Traver Award Winners
- By: Joe Healy
It’s my great honor to introduce the winner and the second-place finisher in the 2009 Robert Traver Fly-Fishing Writing Award Competition. Our lead short story this year, “The Land Beyond Maps”, which begins on page 42, is written by Pete Fromm, a Montana resident and the winner the first year we co-sponsored this important award with the John D. Voelker Foundation(1994). Fromm’s pace-setting story 15 years ago was “Home Before Dark” and is included in his collection of fishing stories Blood Knot (The Lyons Press) and will be the title story of a French edition of the same book, Avant La Nuit, to be published by Gallmeister Editions next spring. It’s also the opening story to our Fly Rod & Reel Books edition In Hemingway’s Meadow, a collection of Traver Award stories coming out this fall and available at flyrodreeel.com. Part of the proceeds of this book will go to the Voelker Foundation; Robert Traver was the pen name of John Voelker, the Michigan judge and beloved fly-fishing author in whose honor the foundation exists; go to voelkerfdn.org. The foundation has long made recognizing and rewarding great fly-fishing writing part of its mission, and contributes a cash prize of $2,500 each year for the winning stories we publish. We thank them once again for helping to celebrate fly-fishing’s deep literary traditions.
Our second Traver Award short story in this issue, titled “The Secret Life of Walter Troutty”, is by RC Hooker. He’s a graduate from Youngstown State University with a degree in philosophy, which he says is “a haunting honorarium that was both a social liability and a personal asset.” Naturally, the degree led to his teaching math and science and coaching basketball. But as writing about the outdoors became his destiny, the Montana resident quit teaching and began a freelance career in dreaming about fish in fishy places. His Traver story is a rollicking parody of James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
- By: Joe Healy
For the past several months, we’ve been poring through, reading, studying back issues of the magazine to gather material for our 30th Anniversary special section that begins on page 36. Some of the pleasant surprises: Gary LaFontaine writing about his early fly-design discoveries and also about general fly-fishing techniques such as the Yo-Yo Retrieve (November/December 1996); Verlyn Klinkenborg, now often read in National Geographic or The New York Times, writing the book-review column; Earnest Schwiebert’s 1980 essay on perch fishing and later (1987) his several-thousand-word rebuttal to greased-line theories for Atlantic salmon; seeing bylines such as Lefty Kreh, Robert Traver, George Reiger, Eric Leiser, Sylvester Nemes, Russell Chatham, Geoffrey Norman, Howell Raines, Jim Bashline; and of course the work of columnists Lee and Joan Wulff, John Gierach, Darrel Martin, Ted Williams, A. K. Best, Dave Hughes, Jack Samson, Jeffrey Cardenas, Ted Leeson, Chico Fernandez, Buzz Bryson, Seth Norman—and many, many others. (Mea culpa for the names I’ve left out, only for space reasons.) About 180 issues have worn the name Rod & Reel (adding the word Fly made the title complete in 1989) in these past three decades, a canon filled with masterly work of the best thinkers and doers in our sport.
One story that caught my attention was published in Volume 1, Number 2 in 1979. The title was “It Looks Like The Devil To Me” and profiled not a fly fisher or tier (though some of us certainly look like the devil after a long weekend of fishing); but a fly—the Devil Bug. Rod & Reel began as an all-tackle fishing magazine, so having a fly profile that early in the game called out attention. I also had a sense of déjà vu: the bug looked familiar, or maybe its name did. Somewhere out of my youth came memories of this bulbous creation. I don’t recall fishing one; more likely, my father had one in a tackle box or I had seen it in Fredon’s bait shop in Syracuse, New York, sometime in the 1970s. (Bubbling bait tanks, the sweet-rank smell of minnows and worm bedding; row upon row of plastic-packaged lures.)
The plot thickened when I read Tony Atwill’s story and learned that the Devil Bug originated in Old Forge, New York, and was an Adirondack bass standard. O. C. Tuttle developed the fly; his wife named it (“It looks like…”). Eppinger tackle, makers of the Dardevle, bought the rights to make the fly in 1977. Sensing history, I called Eppinger. I spoke with Karen Eppinger—who still ties Devil Bugs the way Tuttle’s daughter taught her more than 30 years ago. The company had seven full-time tiers making the bugs back then—“All we did was tie!” Karen says—to supply retailers from the local bait shop to Kmart. Atwill’s article is as fresh today as it was in 1979—you can still buy Devil Bugs from Eppinger—which is why we’re republishing it (with updated photos by Ted Fauceglia) on page 26. Isn’t it nice to know that much has changed and advanced in our sport in these three decades—and much also hasn’t.