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Fly fishing and fly tying books are a passion. Here you will find book reviews of books I have read covering fly fishing for trout, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, steelhead, and many other freshwater and saltwater species. You will also find fly tying books covering the same areas. There are also books on aquatic entomology, history of fly fishing and fly tying, hydrology, and great prose having fly fishing as its main theme. There is far more to fly fishing than casting a line, and there should be far more to a fly fishing guide service web site than just costs and services offered.


The Book of Practical Fishing Knots
by Geoffrey Budworth
Stackpole Books
Mechanicsburg, PA, 2003
160pages, softbound
illustrated, Color
suggested price $19.95

                                 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            In the sport of fly-fishing tying, the subject of knots is considered a mundane and boring topic by most. It is also, however, one of the most critical crafts a fly-fisherman must master to actually land fish. And yet most fly fishermen are not adept at tying the proper knot at the proper time to allow for the most effective connection between fish and fisherman.
            Geoffrey Budworth has done an excellent job of providing the information that will allow any fishermen to learn which knot to use and how to tie it effectively. The Book of Practical Fishing Knots covers more than enough knots to meet every fishing and fly-fishing need in a manner that makes learning to tie them pretty much straight forward. The book is broken down into five classes of knots. Namely, connector knots, fixed loop knots, knots for joining lines, knots specifically for fly-fishing, and what the author calls Mavericks and Mutations. Within each knot class each knot is shown tied in oversized cord. Most helpfully, there are two photographs of each knot. One view being 180 degrees opposed to the other. This allows you to associate your effort in tying the knot with the photograph no matter from what angle you hold your tied knot in comparison to the book illustration. In addition, each knot is further illustrated with computer generated 3D effect drawings showing the steps in actually tying each knot. Finally, there is accompanying text explaining the drawings and steps in tying the knot. Anyone that can cast a rod should be able to tie any illustrated knot in this book. The knots included are suitable for the modern materials now used in fly-fishing.
            The quality of the illustrations and photographs is of the highest quality. The text is well thought out and well written. There are a few interesting spellings that slipped under the radar in translating the book from English English to American English, but they are few and not disruptive to understanding the instructions. The book is softbound but with sewn bundles of pages so it should hold up extremely well over time and with lots of use. At a price just under $20.00 it is a bargain as well as being an excellent textbook.
            Is there a failing? Yes. Like every other book I have ever read giving instructions for tying the Bimini Twist, the instructions are far too convoluted. The Bimini is one of the easiest knots to tie, but it evokes the most horrid tying instructions known to man. Unfortunately, this book does nothing to improve the situation.
            Overall, my personal favorite for tying fishing knots. If I were allowed only one book on fishing knots this would be my choice without reservation.

© 2003 Bruce E. Harang


Beloved Waters
by Paul Ford
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 2000
98 pages, softbound
not illustrated
suggested price $12.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This small book contains eight short outdoor stories that carry the reader into a place where only dreams are found. Not only do the stories transport the reader into them, they evoke wonderful memories each reader has of his own outdoor memories. Centered on fishing these stories are a personal journey of the author. But a journey that allows the reader to gaze through the author’s eyes and see the wonders of nature as the author saw them. The descriptions of the weather, the creatures, and the sensual perceptions are amazingly well done. The reader cannot help but smell the tidal muck, and hear the prehistoric squawking of the heron.
            Many of us have traveled similar roads, but few of us can so sensually describe them with the written word. This is a wonderful winter read in front of a warm fire. When you are tired of reading commercials about far off hot spots, and blow-by-blow descriptions of how to catch large fish this book will bring you to a place where you can once again remember wonderful days afield.

© 2003 Bruce E. Harang


Northwest Fly Patterns & Tying Guide
by Rainland Fly Casters
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 2002
83 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price $29.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            If you fish, or are interested in fishing, the Pacific Northwest this book will provide you with a sound selection of flies to help bring success. Written by members of the fly-fishing club located in Astoria, Oregon these folks know the Pacific Northwest fly fishing scene as well as anyone can.
            The book is divided into seven chapters by fly type. These include dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, terrestrials, streamers, and saltwater flies. Each chapter starts with a short discussion of the type of fly and how to fish them, followed by a selection of fly patterns having both an excellent photo and concise recipe. The writing and editing are superb. The photos by Jim Schollmeyer, Rick Newton and Frank Amato are of excellent high quality. The selection will provide the fly fisherman with a winning box of flies for anywhere in the area from the salt to the varied lakes and streams. It is a first rate regional fly pattern book. This selection includes many patterns developed in the area by local fly fishermen, such as Lee Clark’s Stonefly, Henry Hoffman’s Chickabou Crayfish and Articulated Leech, and Colleen Hansen’s 4th of July Shad Fly.
            But the best part, and the part that sets it on a plane by itself is the last chapter called appropriately enough “Club Members’ Favorite Flies”. This very personal section written by top-flight fly tyers and fly fishermen of the Club provides a wonderful insight and personal relationship between the reader and the authors. Some of these folks are well known in the fly-fishing area, others are only well known to their local peers, but everyone one of them is both very knowledgeable and very willing to share their hard-earned knowledge with any reader willing to learn.
            This book is well done, has valuable information, and the personal insights of some of the most knowledgeable fly tyers and fly fishermen in the area. If you are interested in learning about the flies that really catch fish in the Pacific Northwest this is a must have book.

© 2003 Bruce E. Harang


Guide Flies
by David Klausmeyer
Countryman Press
Woodstock, VT, 2002
118 pages, hardbound
illustrated, color
suggested price $40.00

                                 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This book is, according to the author, “…an outgrowth of another book I wrote for Countryman Press titled “Tying Contemporary Saltwater Flies”. It certainly is produced and written as well as this previous book. It contains 38 additional saltwater patterns and 120 freshwater patterns. Each is beautifully photographed and a recipe is included along with a note about the fly, the guide, or the method to use in fishing the fly. There are no tying instructions so this is a book for the tyer already accomplished in these types of flies and only looking for some pattern ideas.
            The selection includes a little for everyone including some original patterns. Most of the patterns are local adaptations of well-known patterns or adaptations of popular styles of flies. This gives the reader an interesting insight as to how various tyers address and solve local fishing conditions. However, some of the adaptations seem trivial enough as to beg the question as to why they have been included. The original patterns are in many cases well known and have been published many times before making this more of a coffee table book than a working pattern book.
            The printing, editing, and writing are of the normally expected high standards of The Countryman Press. The photographic images are truly well done. This is a beautiful book to give as a gift.

© 2003 Bruce E. Harang


Dry Fly Fishing
by Dave Hughes
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland
, OR, 1994
56 pages, Softbound
illustrated, Color
suggested price, $15.95 

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

         Dave Hughes has authored a number of excellent and practical books covering a variety of fly-fishing topics. This volume is no exception. This slim book is an excellent overview and introduction to fly fishing the dry fly on both moving and Stillwater.
        The sections on dry fly fishing techniques and dry fly fishing tackle and equipment are concise, practical, and informative. Following the suggestions in these sections will put the beginning and intermediate fly fisherman well down the road to becoming a first class practitioner of the dry fly.
        The chapter on casting as it pertains to dry fly fishing is well done and a good balance between "too much" and "not enough" information.
        The meat of the book comprises the chapters on actually fishing dry flies for trout. Dry fly selection and patterns are well covered. Also, well done, are the differences in techniques and approach between Stillwater and moving water dry fly fishing.
        Dave Hughes is an excellent writer and it shows clearly in this book. The photography of Jim Schollmeyer continues at its legendary high level of excellence. The photography greatly enhances the well-chosen words of the author. Further, the flies tied for the book by John Rodriguez are both beautiful and well tied, setting a high standard as a goal for all fly tyers.
        Overall, this book is a very good primer for every fly fisherman casting a dry fly. This volume is truly a keeper.

© 2003 Bruce E. Harang


Tying Emergers
by Jim Schollmeyer and Ted Leeson
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 2004
344 pages, hardbound & softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price $60.00 & $45.00

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            For any fly tyer wanting a PhD level course in tying emerger patterns this book is the answer. It will provide the fly tyer with all of the tools required to tie any emerger pattern or emerger style and tie it exceedingly well. In addition, it utilizes some innovative methods of presenting the material so that it is both easy to find and easy to understand.
            The first innovative feature is the manner in which the Table of Contents has been produced. It not only has the traditional text describing the chapters, it also has excellent quality images of most of the flies illustrated in the body of the book as well as silhouette icons identifying which major insect groups the pattern imitates or represents. This is an excellent help when trying to find a particular fly you have seen on stream for example, but for which you do not know the name. Or an easy way to find pattern that represents caddis emergers, for example.
            The body of the book starts out with Chapter One discussing emerger fly pattern design and the materials suitable to tie this type of pattern. Emerger patterns that are, in many cases, very small in size. Chapter Two describes in step-by-step text and well produced photographs, many enhanced with visual aids, the major tying techniques needed to tie good looking, well proportioned, durable emerger flies that will both attract fish and stand up to their attention.
            Chapters 3 through 17 present individual patterns broken down into fifteen emerger styles. There are trailing shuck patterns, paraloop patterns, side-wing patterns and everything in between. If there is a style of emerger pattern, it can be found in this book. And just as importantly, the patterns represent the creative thinking of fly tyers from around the world. For the American tyer the patterns from European tyers is worth much more than the price of the book. Here for the first time are emerger patterns, and the methods of tying them, from European tyers from Holland, Russia, and many other countries. Their ideas, tying methods, and material selection open whole new avenues of experimentation. Likewise, for the overseas tyers, here is a compendium of American tyers patterns and methods, many of which have never been published elsewhere. And all of this information is presented with clear step-by-step text and high quality photographs. The reader simply can’t help but be successful in his own tying following these instructions. And while pattern books are not novels, the editing, and production of the book is so well done that one can actually just read the book for ideas and enjoy doing it. There are practically no typographical or grammatical errors which means that the reader can put his reading eyes on cruise control and simply enjoy the journey. Likewise each pattern covers a single page or a series of pages, but no page has more than one pattern on it, making following along easy even while splitting one’s attention between the book and the vise.
            The book concludes with a series of three indices. These too are innovative in that they allow the tyer to find quickly a pattern in a number of ways. The first index breaks down the patterns by the major insect group or groups the pattern represents. The second index presents an alphabetical list of all of the patterns in the book. The third index classifies the patterns by the tyer or pattern originator of each pattern.
            Overall, this is a well-written, well researched, and well-produced book on a specific class of flies, emergers. It is the benchmark volume for tying emerger patterns. A book every fly tyer must add to his library.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Bass Bug Basics
by John M. Likakis
Countryman Press
Woodstock, VT, 2003
86 pages, softbound
illustrated, Black & White
suggested price $12.95

                                 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            Most fly tyers consider spinning deer hair beyond their abilities, believing it to be extremely difficult to master. Now comes the author with a slim volume to not only explode this myth of difficulty but to provide the fly tyer with all of the tools to excel at this form of fly tying. This well written book contains six short chapters, each explaining one section of tying bass bugs. Chapter one details the tools you need, how to choose hair for spinning and stacking and two straight-forward and practical methods of spinning deer hair on a hook. It ends with the tyer tying his first successful spun deer hair bug. Chapter two teaches multi-color bugs, how to fix a bug gone wrong by a slip of the razor blade, shaping the spun hair into a chosen form, stacking hair on a hook and onto spun hair, threads for stacking hair, and concludes with tying instructions for three very popular styles of bass bugs. The following chapters cover bass bug tails, heads on bugs, types and methods for adding legs to bugs, and special effects such as mixing hair of different colors before spinning it onto a hook, using paint and markers, making eye holes, scaling up the bugs size for use with larger fish such as pike and musky, and building the bass bug sideways on the hook to keep the hook gap free to hook the fish. Each chapter concludes with detailed instructions on how to tie at least one popular style of bass bug. The book concludes with a list of suppliers of bass bug tools and materials and an index.
            The writing is clear and easy to read. The editing is excellent. The step-by-step instructions are also well done and easy to read and follow. However, the photographs used are average at best and a real disappointment coming from a high quality publisher such as this. While the reader will be able to understand the subject of most of the photos because of the well-written text, they themselves are not well done. Hopefully, this one shortcoming will be corrected in the next edition of this wonderful book.
            This is undoubtedly the best available book on tying deer hair bugs. With the tools so well presented, the tyer cannot help but succeed handsomely in learning to tie good looking, durable, fish catching, and fisherman catching bugs for bass, panfish, pike, and any other fish that eats large sized food items. At the asking price, the information in this book is definitely undervalued, making it a great bargain as well as a great teaching aid
.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Inside Fly Tying
by Dick Talleur
Stackpole Books
Mechanicsburg, PA, 2004
92 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price $19.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            The subtitle of this book clearly tells the reader what the author is about, “100 Tips for Solving the Trickiest Fly-Tying Problems”. This is not a pattern book though it teaches through the tying of specific patterns. This also not a beginner’s lesson book, though a beginner will shave years off his fly tying learning curve by studying this book. This is simply an extremely well written, well edited, and well illustrated manual giving the reader a toolbox of special techniques to make fly tying easier and a lot more fun. This book is written in Dick Telleur’s easy to read conversational style and illustrated with excellent color photos, many enhanced with computer added graphics to illustrate more clearly the point at hand.

            The book covers the more common problems like tying in hair wings and wings made of woodduck flank feather as well as the less common problems of winding two hackles on a Hewitt skater. There are also some really novel solutions to common problems such as gluing off parachute hackle instead of tying it off and the specifics of dyeing materials using Kool-Aid brand drink powder. In addition, there are tricks for using foam, Coq de Leon feathers, splitting tails, and much more. All of this done in a writing style that is so relaxed the reader can not help but learn.

            Any fly tyer that wishes to become a better master of his craft will love this slim volume and will refer to it often. This book provides a great deal of tying help for a very reasonable price. If you tie flies you will want to add this book to your library.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Tying Better Flies
by Art Scheck
Countryman Press
Woodstock, VT, 2002
173 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price $27.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This book is directed to teaching fly tyers how to tie better flies by providing techniques that improve durability and simplify tying procedures. The author’s description of his book in the introduction says it best: “My emphasis is on how to tie flies; on techniques, components, and little tricks that produce fake insects and ersatz minnows that act as you want them to and stay in one piece; on construction methods that solve problems and yield practical fishing lures. For “better,” then, you can read “practical, predictable, consistent, durable, and versatile”.
            The book starts with a short chapter on tools and how to pick them so that the tyer does not have to overcome the deficiencies of the tools he uses. The next chapter is an exceptionally lucid, practical, and compelling discussion of hooks, threads, and head cements. This chapter is one of the best of its kind in print today. The following twelve chapters are broken down into how to tie specific flies or styles of flies which result in “better” flies. Each chapter starts with a general background about the fly or style of fly to be discussed. Next is detailed the various parts of the fly or style of fly and what types of materials will produce the fly having desired characteristics. This is followed by a section of tying tips for realizing the desired fly. Finally, each chapter concludes with step-by-step tying instructions with superb photographs and lucid text.
            This book is directed to practical and popular fish catching flies. Thus, it covers buggers; hair-wing streamers to represent minnows; muddlers; a general purpose nymph; wet flies, both classic and contemporary; classic dry flies, some with innovative new materials; parachute dry flies; a pair of hair-wing caddisflies; creative dry flies with added buoyancy built-in; tiny flies; Clouser’s Deep Minnows; and weedless flies including bend-backs.
            The book is extremely well written in an easy to read style that provides excellent instruction. It is complimented by superb photographs and first rate editing and layout. If you are looking for a book to get you tying very productive patterns very well this is the book. This book makes a great addition to any fly tying library.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


River Journal – Kispiox River
by Arthur J. Lingren
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 2004
48 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price $15.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This is another excellent volume in the River Journal series of books. Written by a Kispiox River steelheader of 30 years this book gives the reader the tools and insights necessary to fish successfully this magnificent part of the mighty Skeena River system.
            The Kispiox River is a river of large steelhead, beautiful water, and wonderful scenery. The Kispiox is also a river producing steelhead that placed in the top ten spots in the Field & Stream Fishing Contest for twenty-one consecutive years. It is also a river that made many of the Pacific Northwest steelhead fly patterns famous worldwide.
            The author provides the reader with a book containing information on the rivers history, gear selection, fly patterns and tying recipes, available accommodations, fishing outfitters, access points, and an excellent overview map of the river with its named pools. All of this information is presented in an easy to read writing style accompanied by top rate color photographs of fish, scenery, historical points of interest, and the popular flies for use on the river. In addition, the book is well edited and very nicely laid out. For anyone interested in fly fishing for large steelhead on the Kispiox River this is a must have work.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


How to Fly-Fish
by Cliff Hauptman
Stackpole Books
Mechanicsburg, PA, 2004
113 pages, softbound
illustrated, B&W
suggested price $12.95
 

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This book presents a beginner’s fly-fishing course in an innovative manner. One might say it is the Suzuki method of fly-fishing.
            The book is composed of ten chapters covering; what is needed to get started, rods, reels, lines, leaders, flies, knots, types of fishing waters, waders, and accessories. Each chapter has two separate parts. Each chapter’s first section contains just enough information to allow a beginner to fish, and the second section contains additional information and greater detail. The beginner needs only to read the first section of each chapter and then go fishing. It will take less than two hours to complete this basic course and then get out to the water and actually go fishing. Then once the beginner has actually gotten to fish for a time he can come back to the book and read the second portion of each chapter to gain a better understanding of “why it works” to compliment the earlier read of “how it works”.
            The book is nicely written and easy to read. The line drawings are a good compliment to the text without distracting the reader from the main goal of getting him out and fly-fishing. For the most part the book is a solid teaching tool. Unfortunately, a number of old wives tales have been included which should have been weeded out. However, at the price of admission this book is one fine beginner’s fly-fishing course.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


 

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Copyright © 1997 - 2006 Bruce E. Harang
Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
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Last modified: January 04, 2006

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