This book is now available and was launched on 20th May at the Victorian Fly Fishers Association dinner and auction.
Books are numbered 1-100. Book number 1 was auctioned on the night with funds going to charity. It is bound in tan and can be seen behind the main photo. Ii sold for $1000.
For books 2-100 you can request a number (add a note to your order), but if your preferred number is not available, the lowest number will be issued.
Dressed for Dinner is a superbly bound in burgundy Rayas book cloth and is 230 x 240mm and 232 pages.
Mike Stevens writes about Rick and Dressed for Dinner.
Who knew Rick Keam well? Not many people I suspect and that was probably the way he liked it. He was happy beavering away on his own - tying flies, playing music, editing, researching or writing.
I didn’t know him well, but I worked on quite a few projects with Rick over the last few years. There were the series of VFFA books, which, with his editorial expertise were turned into books to be very proud of for all involved. They were not ‘Club’ productions, but full-on classy tomes. That was how Rick was – he got it right. Boy, was he a tyrant at getting it right, although he would say correct, not right. He was pedantic.
Working with Rick was a dream, and I recall when I asked him to help with some work for the Australian Fly Fishing Museum. We had several small projects that needed research, and there was no one better than Rick in doing that. He always went to the primary source, rather than being lazy and perpetuating someone else’s errors – of which there has been many in all historical works.
He badgered me to produce a book for his good friend Hugh McDowell, an Irishman that moved to – and stayed out his time fishing in New Zealand. ‘I Mind One Time’ was a lovely book by a great angler with some delightful reflections on Hugh’s life of fishing.
As we were working through Rick’s final work - his book ‘Dressed for Dinner’ I was time stressed for a while and my daughter Harriet did some of the publishing work. ‘How is Rick to work with’ she asked. I said ‘he is the easiest person I have ever worked with on a book as he knows what he wants, and whatever he gives you will be correct’. Harriet didn’t believe me, I was sure, but a week or two later when I asked how she was going it was a big thumbs up. Whilst Rick never got to see the bound finished book, he did see the final, fully complete and edited production. This was just a week or so before he passed on 11 November 2020. He told me he was delighted.
I never met with Rick much, but had a great lunch with him one day near the top of Bourke Street in a pub I don’t remember. It was a great day for me, but too short. We had many stories and I really enjoyed his company.
Then there was a funny incident with ‘Ordinary Stories’ his music album from 2013. He had finished the album after a long stint and was working out how to sell it – not too sure online was the way. And he did not like giving money to Apple and iTunes. He told me he was testing another online avenue. I looked it up and clicked on ‘buy’. My album downloaded and I was happy. When next I spoke to Rick I mentioned it and he was distressed as he hadn’t finalised the website – and I definitely should not have been able to BUY. He said I must be the first purchaser and we joked about it for some time. I often play it when I am going fishing.
Ordinary Stories has an alt country, folk and country style with Rick’s deep mellifluous Australian tone. Co-produced with multi-instrumentalist Hugh McDonald (Redgum), the album features Dave Folley (Killjoys, Tex Perkins and The Band of Gold) on drums, Dave Blight (Cold Chisel) on harmonica, acclaimed pedal steel guitarist Garrett Costigan, James Clark on tuba supported superbly with vocalist Heidi McDermott. I don’t know where you can find a copy.
‘Dressed for Dinner’ was Rick’s final work. It is a book from another planet of fly tying. Rick was very much a fur and feather tyer, but when synthetics came along, he embraced them. Often, when he had my ear, he would tell me that if you viewed xyz synthetic under a microscope it was similar in structure to seals fur or something else. I am pretty sure the trout don’t know and told him so, but Rick replied with a scholarly answer which was usually about how it trapped air, or was hydrophobic, or the movement mimicked a live nymph. I’d usually agree – or I would miss dinner with the long discussion which would invariably follow. He was intensely interested and interesting in his study of the weird and common materials that could be adapted and added to hooks to fool trout.
His greatest interest in later years though was raffia and foam. What he did with these products is extraordinary and he corresponded with many fly tyers about how both could be used. Rick came up with some superb and practical patterns that you would be wise to study. There are mudeyes, damsels, hoppers, beetles, and more.
Rick sent me a lots of bits and pieces over the years. In some items for 'Dressed for Dinner' there was a box with a note in it from Gary LaFontaine, co-owner of Greycliffe Publishing and a fly tying hero of World acclaim.
It said 'here is an introduction to the President of Umpqua Feather Merchants' and then went on to say 'Would you consider doing a book on terrestrials covering Australia, New Zealand the US and Europe - in other words an International book. You are an incredible writer and researcher and this book would be a classic.'
Another letter in the same box said 'I'm excited about both books....... your fly tying book and the International book on terrestrial insects.'
'My partner will be contacting you about contracts for both books.'
It is a good illustration of Rick's skills, connections and brilliance as a fly tyer.
Peter Hayes has been tying some patterns from Rick’s book and I will let him explain further.
Rick Keam was certainly an interesting cat.
Different - A deep thinker on all things fly tying.
We talked a few times over the years - we shared some of the same ideas regarding the power of general representation rather than direct imitation.
Rick sent me a few flies a couple of times that looked terrible but worked remarkably well.
His damsel nymph came alive in the water and some of his patterns reminded me of the late great Muz Wilson’s BMS. Another fly that looked very ordinary in your box but came alive in the water and trout loved them.
One of Rick’s suggestions to me a couple of decades ago was to put a red tag in front of your furnace hackle when you tie a normal Red Tag. In effect a double Red Tag. That way you get to see the bright red spot when you cast it. Since that conversation I’ve always tied my Red Tags in reverse and the fish don’t seem to notice but my clients can see their fly more easily which is a very good thing.
Rick’s new posthumously published book ‘Dressed for dinner’ will give us all fish food for thought and that would make him happy if he was still with us.