Shelley wrote: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” When the days get shorter, one of the things we enjoy is a quiet hour or two at a fly-tying vise. Surrounded by bits of feather, fur, thread, and hooks (and perhaps a wee dram for concentration), we dream of the first spring outing in the Catskills.
In the East, some of the first major insect hatches are mayflies in the Baetis family (they hatch all winter in some locations out West). That means that we need to tie up a good selection of Baetis vagans nymphs, emergers, duns, and spinners.
It’s also a good time to review all the major early spring mayflies: Ephemerella subvaria, Paraleptoplebia adoptiva, and Epeorus pluralis. After all, if you plan to step from an icy bank into 45 degree water, you might as well be prepared. Sometimes all of these insects are on the water at once and we know from sore experience that brown trout can be picky.
So, how do we know all this stuff? For us, it was reading books by Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi. More than any other anglers in the East, these two men made a careful study of the insects native to their home waters and carefully recorded it over thirty years.
They also studied insect hatches of the Midwest and West and incorporated their experiences into their books. Along the way, they developed a system for matching the hatch in a particularly precise way and they consistently caught more fish.
We’ve read plenty of books on tactics and tying essentials, but the most practical books on identifying mayflies are Hatches II and the Instant Mayfly Identification Guide. We were lucky enough to get to know Al Caucci—his Instant book was part of his fly-fishing school program on the West Branch of the Delaware River.
As good as it was, the little spiral bound book was last updated in 1984 and the scientific names of many of the insects have changed. It still works like a charm, but there is plenty of new material to include to make it more colorful and useful.
Al Caucci was inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame in October 2006 and is one of the founders and a current officer of the Friends of the Upper Delaware River. He operates Al Caucci Fly Fishing, a travel destination fly-fishing service with his wife Betti. They live on the West Branch of the Delaware River in Starlight, Pennsylvania.
Al approached us to revise and update the book. With his guidance, we worked for over a year, retouching photographs, creating new illustrations, and emending text to create a new book called The Mayfly Guide. It’s essentially a field guide for identifying all the major mayfly species an angler will encounter across the continent.
It’s by no means comprehensive—there are over 600 species native to North America alone—but it does the job like no other available book for all the mayflies important to anglers.
Using updated taxonomic names, over 150 species are included with a focus on the 64 most essential mayflies. Each species entry has information on coloration, time of emergence, body size, and other physical characteristics. Excellent color photography is included for all the major species at all life stages and essential field marks are included in diagrams throughout.
Small enough to fit in a fishing vest and printed on waterproof material, this handy guide will be useful at streamside or anywhere an angler needs to identify mayflies.
We’re proud to offer this book to a new generation of anglers. It encapsulates so much of what Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi mean to the sport and the science of fly-fishing.
• Pages: 80
• Format: Sprial-bound paper with flaps
• Dimensions: 4.75 × 6.5 inches
• Illustrations: more than 80 color photos, 126 line drawings, 28 tables, 1 map
• Distribution Rights: World
• Price: $26.95
• ISBN: 978-0-9799-0379-3
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