Western Mayfly Hatches
Western Mayfly Hatches by Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes. Published by Frank Amato Publications, Inc. in 2004. 268 pages in a 8.5 by 11 inch all-color format with over 350 color photos, 75 illustrations, and 175 fly patterns. $39.95 retail. Available in most western fly shops and online (google the title and authors). .
couple of decades ago, when I switched overnight from a dabbler in fly fishing to a passionate addict, the first entomology book I bought was Western Hatches, by Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes. The book was fairly new then, with its first printing in 1981.
Western Hatches covered the most important genera of mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, midges, damselflies, dragonflies, alderflies, beetles, and even dobsonflies for crying out loud. It had all the entomology that a western angler of that era could wish for, plus the best fly patterns and tactics for imitating all those bugs.
Western Hatches was a best-seller for many years, a must-have book for any serious fly angler who plied streams and lakes from the Rocky Mountain front range to the Pacific shore.
Getting Better Haircuts, Learning New Lessons
But time moves on, and Western Hatches, while still valuable, grew dated and in need of a new edition. First clue: take a look at Dave's and Rick's hair cuts in the old book's author photos. They look like hirsute disco rejects. The intervening 25 years not only brought new hair styles, but there have been advances in entomology, fly patterns, and angler sophistication. And Dave and Rick had learned a thing or two, too. They're not only older and have better haircuts (well, Rick anyway), but they're wiser.
In fact, the Introduction to Western Mayfly Hatches is subtitled "Lessons Learned." They say, "Our fly pattern philosophy has worked out over twenty years to something like this: it's best to carry three, four, or even more styles of flies for a particular hatch that you fish often, so that when you fish different water types, or trouts' tastes change, you're able to offer them something that floats a little differently on the surface or in it, or that even dips beneath it."
Improving On the Original
While the original book covered the spectrum of western aquatic insects, Western Mayfly Hatches focuses exclusively on mayflies, as its title suggests. It follows a format similar to its predecessor: collection and anatomy are described in opening chapters, then the mayflies are divided into the four basic groups of swimmers, clingers, crawlers, and burrowers. Within each group, there is a chapter for each major genera, where the general characteristics, emergence and distribution, anatomy and identification, habitat and behavior, and imitation are detailed. Three or four patterns are listed for each stage (nymph, dun, and spinner), with a color photo, recipe, and notes for each pattern. There are also color photos for each stage of each genus.
The photos and fly patterns are major advances over the old Western Hatches, which was a black-and-white book. Also, the entomology is up-to-date and easier to understand. Another major improvement is that the mayfly genera are ranked in importance. Each genus gets a score of one to five for distribution (wider is better), abundance, emergence type (slow water, fast, etc.), emergence time, emergence duration, and the availability of each stage. Add up the scores, and you have the overall importance of that genus. Thus Western anglers can quickly determine which bugs are most important to them. My advice: learn about the top eight genera and tie flies for each stage of them, and you'll be covered for about 80% of the mayfly hatches you'll run into in the West.
The flies were tied by John Childs and photographed by Jim Schollmeyer. They make a great team, and tiers with a minimum of experience should have no trouble figuring out how to tie these flies. Richard Bunse's excellent line drawings are in the book, too. Altogether, it's an outstanding package that is handsomely printed. Authors, artists, and publisher all have a right to be proud.
Like its predecessor, this is a must-have book if you're serious about western fly fishing. My only hope is that Dave and Rick are now hard at work on Western Caddis Hatches, Western Stonefly Hatches, and so on. I'd sure like to see those books come out before disco hairstyles are back in vogue.
Bottom Line: A must-have book if you want to match-the-hatch in the West. Reviewer Rating: 5
5=tops 3=average 1=low
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