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Bill MacIntosh
Dan MacIntosh with family & pet deer

THE MACINTOSH by Jack Anderson

As a boy growing up on the banks of the St. Mary's River during the late 1920's and 30's, I had a very early introduction to the various types and patterns of salmon flies.  Especially so since my father was an avid angler of both trout and salmon and he was not adverse to carrying me in a packsack on his back in order to get us to one of his favorite fishing spots.

My first introduction to salmon flies were the brightly colored masterpieces of the classic English, Scottish, or Irish patterns by such famous makers as S. Alcock, Hardy Bros., Farlow, etc. One must admit that the beautiful fly patterns such as the Jock Scott, Lady Amherst, Durham Ranger, Silver Grey, Mar Lodge, and so on are objects of beauty as well as being practical.

These flies were of course very expensive and difficult to obtain, and the local anglers rarely had more than two or three of them at any one time. The eyes of the local fishermen would pop out when we would see the fly books of the more affluent visitors with their expensive collections. Thus, I believe the first locally tied flies were produced for purely financial reasons, rather than desire for new and different patterns.

My first memory of locally tied flies is of those made by five MacIntosh brothers, the most famous of whom was Dan. He would sit on the riverbank, in the wind, holding the hook in his fingers, and come up with a good fly.

The materials that went into these flies were very crude - natural deer hair, wool yarn, cotton thread, shoe maker's wax, tinsel cut from the top of tin tobacco cans, and varnish for head cement. Hook sizes were usually 1, 1/0, 2/0, and 3/0. These same flies were fished throughout the summer without any thought of hook sizes such as #4, 6, or 8, and they produced results.

One of my more memorable Christmas gifts as a boy was an assortment of flies given to me by an uncle and made by Dan MacIntosh. These flies were all bucktail patterns in natural colors of black, brown, grey, and white in hook sizes #1 through 3/0. This was before they started dyeing the hair yellow.  Today's expert would scoff at the use of these large flies all through the summer, but they took fish, and, after all, at that time one was not too much interested in grilse. We went SALMON fishing, and these flies worked well.

Sometime during the early 30's the salmon in the Ford Pool were treated to something entirely new and different - the MacIntosh Dry Fly. This irresistible creation of native squirrel tail, brown hackle, and lightly dressed body, tied in a most unconventional manner, was the work of Dan MacIntosh. I firmly believe that this dry fly style was the beginning of numerous similar patterns, styles, colors, shapes, and so on that are being made and used throughout the world today. The MacIntosh was a complete change from the old  English bi-visible types used earlier.

I had the good fortune of being on a trip to the Margaree with Henry Barnes and Dan MacIntosh when Dan first introduced the MacIntosh fly to that river. When Dan floated that huge creation down over the MacDaniel and Seal Pools other anglers mouths dropped open in amazement. He was taking fish quite regularly in each and every pool, much to the chagrin of the other anglers.  When not fishing Dan would sit on the bank or up in one of Collie's Cabins making these flies for which he had created a very ready market.

I will not go into the details of tying the MacIntosh dry fly since all of you readers who are interested in salmon fishing already know it all by heart. However I will repeat that I think Dan's method of tying a dry fly has radically changed the complete system for all the numerous creations that have followed in the years since its inception.

Since the days of Dan MacIntosh, with all the new materials and designs, the dry fly has become as common as the old wet fly. On our rivers, though, the types of the modern dry flies may vary greatly as to color, size, shape, etc., but the basic concept goes back to the invention of one of our best anglers of all time, the MacIntosh.

The Legend - The Fisherman MacIntosh & the MacIntosh Dry Fly

The Deadly MacIntosh Dry Fly