All of the ballots were marked with an 'OK.' It had been
known for some time that the 'Major' was the most adroit
tier in the bunch, having taken many awards in both the
Nationals and the Internationals. With no words spoken
aloud, but volumes inferred, the 'Judge' pushed the tiny
padded box of perfect fly parts across the table to the
"Do you accept the challenge," the 'Judge' asked? "Do you
firmly believe you have the ability to put these fly parts
together in the creation of the perfect 'Ultimate Dry Fly'?"
Gnawing the stub of the ever-present cigar he must have been
born with, he answered in the affirmative. "Yes, yes I do.
And I do so with the full realization of that which I am
about to produce. I am aware that this fly will be our
collective attempt to create the perfect dry fly. If we
do this, we will plunge fly-fishing forward at light speed.
No longer will it be necessary for a beginner to master any
part of the game. If he can whip the fly anywhere near a trout,
it will be his. The endless evenings of useless chatter and
research of flies, patterns, bugs and methods will be obsolete,
things of the past, not of our modern times. However, if I
should fail, and/or this fly should fail, that is, it does
not turn out to be the perfect fly, the 'Ultimate Dry Fly,'
then not only have I failed, we have all failed. And I doubt
that ever in the future will such an august dias ever again
be assembled to contemplate such a venture. With both of those
dreadful eventualities firmly in mind, I hereby accept."
The month passed for all and the time being achieved for the
next meeting brought anxious thoughts to all attending. The
'presentationists' now being fearful of the potential monster
they may have somewhat unwittingly helped to create, the
'imitationists' also realizing that all of the work they
had done for years may soon be so much fodder. No one was
late for the meeting. Hurriedly the formalities were
dispatched with and time for 'new business' had arrived.
It was 'new business' now as the fly had been fabricated.
As many present had actually been involved in creating and
in fact, tying the various parts of the original concept fly,
much eager anticipation was evident. The box however remained
covered, resting immediately in front of the 'Major.' He rose
unexpectedly and from a small tying table in the corner of the
cabin, brought over a 'Pure-Lite' fly tying lamp, carefully
bending the goose-neck arm to position the element directly
above the as of yet, unopened white box.
"Enough already, open the damn box! Quit keeping us in suspense,
what the hell does it look like?" His nose seemed to have healed
rather well during the previous month. He continued, "Ya, and
what do ya call the thing?" this type of outburst was not totally
unexpected as he was one of the younger members of the RAB and
not being able to cast very far had decided he would concentrate
on presentation of short casts to be his firm ground. The 'Major,'
having no small flair for the dramatic when given even the
slightest opportunity only used the occasion to stretch things
to the near breaking point.
"Come on, dammit, let's see the fly, what ya waitin' for?"
"Before I present this fly tonight, I would ask if there any
here who wish to be excused. Are there any here who do not
wish to be now a part of this, any who do not want it known
in the future they had any hand, so to speak, in the development
of this fly? If so, I have prepared a few copies of letters of
abstainment here and will pass one to each for your consideration.
After you have read and studied them, either sign them now or
return them to me now. There will be no time allocated for
discussion or further debate on this subject." With that he
dealt one to each around the dias.
"I have a confession to make," he opened. "I have produced not
one fly, but several. Each identical to its brother. There has
been some testing done as well. Would any of you care to venture
an opinion as to what happened?"
Two members mildly restrained 'bloody-nose' as he had come to
be called and admonished him on the virtues of silence. This was
an unexpected move on the 'Major's' part and took the group by
complete surprise. There were various random remarks coming from
each, often at the same time and soon a discussion of sorts
developed. He allowed it to continue for a short time and
when nothing of any real value seemed to come forth, he went
on, "I offered it to a well known 'Up-Scale' fly shop in the
city. They were not interested in it as it had no name and
they had not seen one like it before, they asked if I had
any EHC. I did not continue that test."
The 'Major' rose and standing with his usual air of dignity
now reminded them of the documents he had passed out. "I will
now collect the papers please gentlemen." Still standing as
he skimmed through them he went on.
"A young lady casting rather well on the spring creek east of
the old mill seemed a likely subject and I offered to let her
use the fly. She declined as she had to pick up her kids at
soccer shortly, with that she reeled up and departed. It
occurred to me as I am a highly proficient caster, in fact
a reformed 'presentationist' as most of you know, it would
not be proper for me to attempt to fish this fly. My delivery
of it may have some, ever so slight as it may be, effect on
it's success, or possibly, failure. I could see the 'horns
of an enigma' staring me in the face. It was a bit like the
chap who invented the 'Universal Solvent' only to find he
had nothing in which to contain it."
"Would it be a fair test for any even moderately competent
fly-fisher to cast the fly to a fish for a test? If that
would not be proper, then what must I do with the fly?
"I see we have a dissenter at the table tonight. May I ask
why it is you have signed this," he asked waving the sheaf
over the table?
"I fear I may be found out," he said. It was the recent member
from the Pacific NW, a pleasant chap, always agreeing to everything,
never a problem and most interested in anything to do with any
fly patterns or tying methods.
"I can see this is going to be a very important event. I am here,
or at least was at the first, under false pretenses. I am the
nephew of one of the biggest fly tying companies in my area.
My uncle wanted me to join the RAB and learn what I could
for the business. At first I took back to him every thing
I learned by email. But, as time went on, I kind of got the
idea, like it started to sink in, there is a lot to all of
this, it's not just about the 'bottom-line' and stuff like
that. I am guilty of being a fraud, and will resign if any
of you wish me do to so. I am guilty and I apologize, but,
I will take what may be coming to me.
"Point of Order," demanded the 'Judge!' "That man is out of
line, that is not on the 'floor' at this time. That is not
in question now and must be dealt with at a later time. We can
not, will not disrupt these proceedings for such a declaration."
"Judge," the 'Major' opined, "this may be a fortuitous event.
If the man would be willing to test this fly, to actually offer
it to a fish and not relay the results of such test, would that
prove his merit and make him clean in our view? He is the newest
member, even newer than BN over there. Would you be willing to
fish this fly, Sir? Would you consider that an honor, or rather
punishment? Would you, having the most perfect fly ever created
have the fortitude to actually cast it to a trout, or have you
not enough mettle to accomplish that?"
Once again, the managerial experience of the 'Major' had risen
to the occasion and he had seemingly come up with a possible
"I can not do it, sir," came the reply. "For none of has that
much mettle, not even you!"
"Then I must accept your letter of abstention, and hereby do so.
The matter of your membership will be dealt with shortly." With
that, the 'Major' sat down and returned to the results of the
testing he had done. Battered but not beaten by the sudden
challenging outburst, the 'Major' regained his composure and
countered, "I could think of no way to cast the fly myself to
a trout without in even some small way imparting at least the
slightest amount of 'presentation.' It occurred to me that
a fair test may be to drop one from a bridge, without any
influence from a caster. That or course was silly as it would
have been the ultimate presentation, neither hindered nor aided
by the presenter. I could find no way to fish the fly without
the risk of outside influence of some sort and did the only
thing left to me.
Since it had not, as of yet, been named, the decision was not
at all difficult. I disassembled the fly and incorporated it's
elements into other flies. You know them and fish them often.
You will find the perfect tail on one of your old favorites,
the hackle is on another, as is the body, thorax etc. In the
future you can be assured that when you fish your old favorites
there is a reason they have stood the test of time and labor
and research. They already had the best parts, each one a single
element, which if presented even moderately well, will produce
a strike from a rising trout."
With that he opened the little box exposing the flies, sparkling
and glowing like jewels under the halo of light from the goose-neck
lamp. Each of the members leaned eagerly forward, peering into
the container, each recognizing the flies he had used for years,
all of his old favorites.
The meeting was adjourned, the cards and corks were produced
and as they were chatting about the flies it became evident
that something strange had occurred that evening. It seemed
that each of the them had seen different flies, each of them
had seen their own personal favorites. No two tiers had seen
the same patterns in the box. Was there some special element
at work that night, some power which only allowed those present
to see just what they wanted to see? Had the box actually
contained any flies at all?
"My friends," the 'Major' continued, "before we retire for
the evening I would like to leave you with this. The world
does not need yet another new fly, no matter how perfect.
We have all the parts, all of the perfect parts. We only
need to know which ones to use and where, and that my friends
is the legacy of us all." ~
~ James Castwell