The Unlikely Friendship of Delbert McLain and Marvin Pincus

Slim Randles

Delbert McLain was seen going into Marvin Pincus’s house the other evening. We wondered on it a bit, because those two were less likely to become friends than any other two people in the valley.

But Marvin, an old curmudgeon, is an amazing tier of fishing flies, and Delbert, who thinks blizzards are wonderful because the grass will be greener in the spring, is also an amateur fly tier. But Marvin is the real expert.

“There should be,” said Del, expansively, “a National Fly Tying Month. Just think how many more people we could get to tie flies if it were more … organized, you know?”

Marvin looked up from his bench and stared at his visitor over the magnifying glasses he was wearing to help him tie an Adams dry on a number 20.

“Del,” he said, “some things are just meant to be quiet, you know? Just quiet. You just sit down and tie flies, and you don’t need an organization or festival, or factory.”

“Well … okay, I see your point. You working on emerger patterns right now for the hatch?”

“Adams, dry.”

Del looked over his shoulder as Marvin carefully wound the hackle behind the wings then in front of the wings, and then tied it off with a whip finish tool.

“Shouldn’t you be tying emergers this time of year?”

“Del, emergers sink. Wets sink. Worms sink. Salmon eggs sink. Where’s the glory in that? Dries alight on the surface film of a creek with a flutter, and they just sit there on top, going for a ride. They don’t sink. Then the fish has to make an effort and come up and get him.”

“Never thought of it that way.”

Marvin nodded. “There’s only dry fly fishing in the world, Del. Only dry fly fishing. Everything else is just killing fish.”

Pick up “Home Country: Drama, dreams and laughter from the American heartland”


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