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Caddis Flies

Gary La Fontaine

For the benefit of people not addicted to fly fishing, Gary LaFontaine was a fly fisherman much the same way Albert Einstein was a mathematician. In his 56 years, he achieved much. In a profile in a 1996 issue of Fly Rod & Reel magazine, which named him their Angler of the Year, writer Robert Berls said that the honor "seems an undervaluation." While he occasionally held other jobs, fishing dominated his life. He fished across the country and much of the world. He was constantly thinking, observing, innovating and writing about flyfishing. His first book, Challenge of the Trout (now out of print) came out in 1976. He earned national recognition with his second book, Caddisflies, a book combining entomology, underwater observation of trout and insect behavior, and new flytying materials and techniques. He followed that book with The Dry Fly: New Angles in 1990 and Trout Flies: Proven Patterns in 1993, and Fly fishing Mountain Lakes in 1996, books that continued his themes of observation and innovation, along with new findings on the significance of light in how fish perceive flies. With partners Stan and Glenda Bradshaw, he formed Greycliff Publishing Company to publish his books, plus a mail-order business called "Book Mailer." Alone and in collaboration with others he produced a steady stream of magazine articles, pocket guides, audiotape guides to rivers, and videos on flytying and flyfishing. Throughout his productive career, he apparently felt driven to create, experiment and write. In Trout Flies: Proven Patterns, he wrote of fishing 6 - 12 hours nearly every day in 1991, putting 30,000 miles on his car, wearing out fly lines every four weeks. He'd fall asleep at his computer keyboard at night, and his daughter, Heather, would come out to put a blanket over him. She'd try not to wake him up, because she knew he'd just resume typing, trying to get all his thoughts and observations organized.