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Western Mayfly Hatches: From the Rockies to the Pacific
Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes
Softbound:   268 pages.
Frank Amato Publications   $39.95
ISBN  1-57188-304-5
Western Mayfly Hatches by Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes

Almost a quarter century has passed since Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes wrote The Complete book of Western Hatches. My copy of this classic tome has become so tattered, worn and smeared with stream and lakeside insects that I considered purchasing a replacement. Fortunately, these two kings of bugs have teamed up again to produce a marvelous addition to our shelves--and to our campground reading list.

This book is not just a simple update to their earlier one.  Western Mayfly Hatches has a much updated and modern format. Color Photos of insects, flies and habitat fill out the margins attractively and effectively. As is typical of the authors' prior work, the photography is expertly taken with superb contrast levels and color accuracy, which helps considerably if you don't have the actual insect in hand.

Especially effective is the intelligent use of graphs throughout. Most books on insects will only give the size of the insect in inches or millimeters. Unique to Hafele and Hughes's new book are size graphs depicting the exact size and silhouette of each insect. These graphs makes it easy to place your favorite hook over a graph to determine the hook size to use as well as give a sense of the finished fly's shape, which you can't get easily from an enlarged photo.

The hatch charts and emergence tables are also intelligently presented. A great deal of thinking and graphic design was put into these to give a wealth of information.  At a glance you can glean important clues about the relative value to your fishing of the various stages of a mayfly species as it changes throughout the day and year.

The selection of patterns has increased in number and type from the authors' earlier work.  The addition of biot, CDC and quill patterns is very welcome. Welcome, too, is the addition of emerger patterns for each mayfly to compliment the nymph, dun and spinner patterns.

The natural history of the mayfly species is more than just thoroughly presented. It includes useful and interesting facts on each species that other books tend to gloss over.  Next time you and your fishing friends face a swarm of baetis duns, you'll be able to wax intelligently about the male and female differences, and maybe even suggest a female spinner pattern for the next day's fishing--while smartly reminding everyone that male spinner patterns won't be nearly as effective.

Both authors, however, will be the first to say that improving your knowledge of  insects and patterns will take you only so far in becoming a better flyfisher. The book is all about increasing your ability to observe the natural world of the insects and the trout that chase them, while increasing your ability to fling your flies in the right direction, at the right time and in the right way. I just hope I can take better care of this book by keeping a few more bugs out of its pretty margins.

--Toney J. Sisk


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