What didn’t Gary LaFontaine do for our sport? Mad scientist, inspired writer, cutting-edge fly designer, goofball raconteur, entrepreneur—LaFontaine did it all, and he did it with a passion and humor that’s made him a legend. In an inspired and sensitive profile, James Hepworth uncovers what drove LaFontaine to create a flyfishing legacy unlike any other.

Words: James Hepworth

All fishermen are liars, or so the old adage goes. But when it comes to deception—and particularly self-deception—flyfishers remain some of the most creative and outrageous liars of our species. And why not? We base our entire way of life around a single falsehood: the artificial fly.

“There was something deep in Neal that compelled him to lie to experts, even though they knew best that he was lying,” Norman Maclean writes in A River Runs Through It. “He was one of those who need to be caught telling a lie while he was telling it.”

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