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Michael Gracie

Blast from the Past: The One-Fly Angler

riograndekingtrudeflyVia the Sports Illustrated Vault, July 15, 1968

Today, in the still-simon-pure world of angling for trout with a fly, there are some who would like to see another fly, the Rio Grande King, banned from all trout streams, especially when it is being fished by Richard J. O’Connor. A 52-year-old career bachelor and the regional manager of Sabena Airlines in Denver, O’Connor must be ranked as a superpurist among fly-fishermen, for when this happy Irishman approaches a trout stream, only his 7-foot tonkin-cane rod and his well-worn hip boots show him to be a fisherman. He carries no creel or net, nor does he wear a fly vest stuffed with boxes of dries, wets, streamers, nymphs and all the other paraphernalia normally associated with fly-fishing for trout. Instead, O’Connor carries only one small Plexiglas box of Rio Grande King Hair Wings—fluffy, nondescript flies that do not resemble, or even imitate, anything in a trout’s diet. But on the end of his wispy, 2.5-pound-test tapered leader, this no-account fly (O’Connor thinks it looks more like an “old reprobate, or maybe a miniature skunk,” than anything else) has accounted for thousands of big trout in a wide range of waters throughout the world—Colorado’s South Platte, the Test, England’s famous chalk stream and the venerable Beaverkill in New York, to name but a few.

Read on.

Had a hunch there was something to reducing the number of patterns in the box, but wonder if carrying a single fly isn’t a bit over- (or under-) doing it.

MG signing off (appreciating O’Connor’s style nonetheless)

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