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
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.