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Dry-Fly Patterns for the New Millenium
In the year 2000, the ladies and gentlemen at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum extended an open invitation to fly tyers around the world to submit flies for an exhibit named "Flies of the Year 2000". The intent was to capture the state of fly tying as we turned the calendar to a new century. Via advertisements in major magazines, displays at fly fishing shows, and word of mouth (especially the wildfire gossip room better known as the internet), word spread about this effort, resulting in a huge variety of flies being submitted from literally every corner of the globe. Each fly was categorized, documented, photographed, and then mounted in one of a series of floor-to-ceiling display cases representing each category of fly style.
The impact of this exhibit shouldn't be downplayed. Living reasonably close to the museum, I was able to visit a several times over the past few years. I remember one trip where a man was visiting with his family, scanning the display intently. "There it is!", he yelled with excitement. He had found his fly. I learned later that his family planned their annual vacation around a visit to the museum. They drove all the way from Wisconsin so their Dad could see his fly on display (among other things, I'm sure).
Not all submitters were so lucky. I'm sure many have been pacing impatiently these past couple of years, waiting for the publication of this book, the first in a series of books that will record each entry to the exhibit. This was a rare chance for the "average Joe" fly tyer to get his tying published in a book.
The flies represented vary from classics tied by recognized experts, such as Poul Jorgensen's Isonychia Dun, Mary Dette Clark's Light Hendrickson, and AK Best's Frying Pan Biot Green Drake Dun, to contemporary patterns, terrestrials, and extra-terrestrials. The level of skill varies as well, which is great. The point of the display was not to show the very best flies from the very best tyers, but to create a record of all fly tying. I was pleased to see that the editors presented all flies on an equal basis, whether they were submitted by a "name" or not.
The layout of the book is as you would expect for a pattern book - each page has a selection of color photographs of the flies with the pattern beneath. There are some editting problems, such as the photo given for the fly submitted by my friend Mike Martinek, Jr. not matching the pattern description. Unfortunately, Mike's entry is either mixed up with someone elses (I couldn't find it), or it's simply missing.
In addition to the patterns and photos, the book has a few text chapters up front by Jim Krul (Why Dry Flies) and Dave Brandt (The Evolution of Catskill Dry Flies), as well as an interesting introduction by Poul Jorgensen where he described the process he used for photographing all 1800+ flies.
I couldn't quite get my mind around how the flies were organized in the book. It was not alphabetic according to either fly name or fly tyer's name, so I was stumped. To use the book as a reference, where you might want to dig out Dave Brandt's B.G. Dun, you basically gotta flip pages and read each entry. Also, a few flies pushed the envelope of what could be considered a dry fly. At least a couple I would question their ability to float - as their style is certainly classic wet fly. It could be that the organizers simply categorized the flies as the tyers submitted them - with no "corrections" attempted.
In spite of these problems, the book certainly is a worthwhile purchase. There is an amazing diversity of dry flies on display and, if nothing else, a fly tyer should be able to draw inspiration for their own tying and add a few new "Must Have" patterns to their fly box.