Although Blanton believes in simulation, I believe in absolute realism, perhaps harking back to my days as a smelly bait fisherman. The Grass Shrimp shown opposite is modeled on Palaemonetes pugio, a brackish-water species of the Atlantic coast. The transparent body is wound with strips of plastic sheeting ordinarily used to protect typewriters and furniture against dust, and in place of regular tying thread I use see-through Dyno thread, available in sewing shops. I originally tied the Shrimp for striped bass, but it has taken smallmouth and large-mouth bass, yellow perch, brown and rainbow trout, weakfish, bluefish, mackerel and Atlantic salmon. Fly freaks are not always earnestly realistic or grimly serious. While I was editing the almanac with Whitlock, I attributed a couple of flies (a Quill-Bodied Mylar Minnow and an Old Hat Dragonfly Nymph made from a Brooks Brothers fedora) to Whygin Argus, the AKC name of my black Labrador retriever. In the obligatory note on contributors, I wrote, truthfully enough in its way, "Whygin Argus, a descendant of stock that settled colonial Newfoundland, moved to the Hudson Valley at an early age. There he pursued nature in the raw in wood, field and river with vigor sufficient to prompt notice in...Field Trial Retriever News. A bachelor and an enthusiast of aquatic life, he has made field studies in Lake Superior, the rivers of New Brunswick and the Gasp�, and the Chesapeake. Now middle-aged and prematurely gray, he expressed no interest in being photographed...."
I thought no more of it until Whitlock sent me one of a dozen copies of the book he had signed for contributors. In the accompanying note, Whitlock wrote he had been unable to find the address of "this guy Argus," and he asked me to present the book to him. I whistled Argus into the living room, and as he sat there, brown-sugar eyes staring at me, I read Whitlock's inscription aloud: "Dear Whygin, We would like to present you this first edition copy as our token of our deep appreciation for your fine help in making this premier volume such a wonderful book for so many fly fishermen." As Whygin Argus trotted back to his kennel, I made a note to pluck some hairs from his tail for the antennae of a new realistic stonefly nymph I was tying. Genus Pteronarcys, of course.