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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.


Reading Water
Darrell Mulch
Frank Amato Publications
Portland, OR  2001
62 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price, $15.00

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

           This book presents a novel and interesting system of fishing for steelhead, salmon and trout. The basis for this system is how flies are acted upon by various hydrodynamic forces and how various fly tying materials react to these same forces.
          The book opens by describing five characteristics of moving water, namely, surface tension, inertia, direction, density, and turbulence. It then describes six styles of flies that utilize the characteristics of moving water to entice fish to take the fly. These six fly styles are dimple flies, waking flies, appendage flies, fin flies, undulate flies, and hinged flies. The author then provides detailed information on what styles of flies, types of materials are most effective for each of the moving water types and river hydrodynamics for the most common stream geographies.
          The book is well written, though there are a number of typos not caught by the editor. The illustrations are both interesting and effective. They are computer generated 3D graphics which provide both the normal perspective and the ability to see hidden features, such as water currents, simultaneously. The quality of the illustrations, printing, and binding are excellent.
          If you are interested in a novel way of looking at the age old problems of what fly to use, and how to use it at any given time, this book will be a welcome addition to your library. Whether you subscribe to the whole system or not, you will find many ideas and suggestions to allow you to tie better flies and fish your rivers more effectively.
© 2001 Bruce E. Harang


Hatch Guide for New England Streams
by Thomas Ames, Jr.

Frank Amato Publications, Inc. 2000
271 pages, softbound
illustrated, Color
suggested price $19.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

Don’t let the title, or small format size, of this fine book fool you. As you are well aware, the aquatic insects of the Southern Appalachian Mountains are the same ones found farther north in New England and the northern end of the Appalachian mountain chain. The format size of about 4” by 6” only means you can carry this valuable resource in your jacket or vest pocket for use in the field.
           The first thing that grabs your attention when you peruse this book is the outstanding quality of the photography. These photos of insects and flies are as good as any in publication. They are superior to many of the published photos available in books costing many times more than this one. Simply put, these are the finest photographs of insects I have had the pleasure to view.
           Once you start reading this book in earnest, you find that the editing and layout are also of the highest caliber. The only other fly fishing publisher with the same high standard of editing is the Lyons Press. The layout is especially well suited to using this book for tying flies to match the hatch. Each left-hand page has a great quality photo of the actual insect on the top third of the page. The bottom two thirds of each page contains information on the name of the insect or class of insects, physical description, as well as habitat and geographic preferences, habits and movement patterns. On the facing right-hand page is a photo depicting suitable imitations covering the top one third of the page. The bottom two thirds of the page contain information on tying techniques, fishing methods, and locations on the stream to use the fly patterns.
           All of the major aquatic insects important to trout are covered including Mayflies, Caddis flies, Stoneflies, True flies, Damsel & Dragon flies, true midges, terrestrials, and other food sources of value to the fly fisherman in the pursuit of trout with a fly.
           If that is not enough there are also sections with excellent, practical information on presentation of wet flies, nymphs, and dry flies, as well as information on tackle and general fishing information and stories.
           The book is completed by the reproductions of wonderful watercolors by David B. Tibbetts.
           At $50.00, this small format book would be a valuable resource. At $19.95, it is a valuable resource vastly undervalued. If you fly fish for trout east of the Mississippi, you must have this wonderful volume. It will soon become a good friend.
© 2001 Bruce E. Harang



Matching Mayflies
Dave Hughes
Frank Amato Publications
Portland, OR  2001
83 pages, softbound & spiral hardbound
illustrated, color
suggested price, $25.00 and $39.95

                          reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

           Dave Hughes has written a number of extraordinary books on fly fishing and especially fly-tying. What makes his books so popular, and sets them apart from most others, is the clarity of observation, succinct writing style, and practical solutions. This short volume of 83 pages is another prime example of his amazing talent to succinctly observe a multitude of information and distill it down to a system of tying and fishing which produces optimum fishing with a minimalist game plan.
          Directed to matching Mayfly populations throughout North America and the world, this book accomplishes its goal well. The book starts with a chapter explaining the simplicity of Mayfly trigger points for trout. The trigger points of size, shape, and color. And that all Mayflies have the same wing shape, body shape, and tail design. Thus, matching Mayflies does not require a degree in aquatic entomology. It only requires a desire to observe your surroundings when on the stream and then match the few trigger points to catch trout. There is also a concise description of the life cycle of Mayflies in a short but well written chapter.
          The meat of the book resides in the four chapters dealing with matching Mayfly nymphs, emergers, duns, and spinners. Each of these chapters describes the various forms of Mayfly and suggests patterns for imitative or impressionistic patterns. Finally, each chapter ends with a discussion of how to fish these Mayfly patterns for best effect. The text is beautifully complimented by the outstanding color photographic reproductions and color illustrations. The step-by-step tying instructions are extremely well done both as to text and illustration.
          The gravy is the one page universal fly box that concludes the book. Here is a suggested set of Mayfly patterns that will help the fly fisherman catch trout on most types of water in most parts of the world. This page alone is worth the price of the book.
          If you are looking for a book to help you tie and fish a limited number of patterns for Mayflies without sacrificing your ability to catch trout, this is the book to purchase.
© 2001 Bruce E. Harang


Nymph Fly-Tying Techniques
by Jim Schollmeyer
Frank Amato Publications
Portland, OR  2001
125 pages, softbound & hardbound
illustrated, color
suggested price, $23.95 & $40.00 

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

           This volume is a reference work for fly tiers directed to a single topic, tying nymphs. As such it is a specialized reference work which collects most of the tying techniques and procedures for tying nymphs in a single volume. The book is organized into a first chapter covering the understanding and handling of hooks, thread, and materials allowing the fly tier to construct well tied, properly proportioned nymphs. Included are discussions on mounting materials, trimming materials, preparing materials, underbodies, tails, bodies, ribbing, legs, wings, hackle, eyes, and bead heads. Chapters 2 through 6 teach the various types of bodies used on nymphs. These include lashed and extended bodies; strand bodies; herl, barb, feather and quill bodies; dubbed bodies; and bead, pulled, stacked, spun and woven bodies. For instruction on tying nymphs from midge larvae to giant stonefly nymphs there is no better reference work.
          While this is not a pattern book, it does utilize many popular nymph patterns in teaching the various methods and nymph styles. This is accomplished using excellent, well edited text, and over one thousand photographs of the tying sequences covering all of the topics in the book.
          The quality of the printing, the photographs, and photograph reproductions is outstanding. The softbound edition is well bound so that it will last through many years of hard use at the tying bench. The hardbound edition is done with a spiral binding within the hardbound covers allowing the book to be laid open flat on the tying bench. Both editions are a real value for all fly tiers interested in learning, or in improving the quality and diversity of, tying nymphs.
© 2001 Bruce E. Harang


The Caddisfly Handbook
by Dick Pobst & Carl Richards
The Lyons Press
New York, NY, 1998
113 pages, hardbound
illustrated, Color and B&W
suggested price: $19.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

     The authors have done a great service for the fly fisherman with the publication of this book. This is clearly the best “field guide” style work directed to the Caddisfly available. The photography is of the extremely high standard associated with all the previous works of Carl Richards and Doug Swisher. You will not be disappointed with either the photographs or the insects or those of the patterns to imitate the real insects with. The format of the book where the photograph of the actual insect and its written information on one page and the photograph of its imitation and pattern recipe on the facing page provide all necessary information for each insect in a single view format most helpful at the tying bench. No need to flip pages here while tying your Caddisfly imitations.
     The anatomical drawings in the “key” section of the book are of the highest caliber as to illustrating the various body parts. Unfortunately they seem to be computer created images which have been enlarged past the limitations of their original low resolution and therefore look ragged and lack sharp precise lines. Interestingly, the line drawings in the main body of the book are both clear and precise.
     You will not find a better Caddisfly field guide directed to the fly fisherman anywhere. If you fish Caddisfly imitations you must have this book.
© 1998 Bruce E. Harang


Fundamentals of Building a Bamboo Fly-Rod
by George E. Maurer & Bernard P. Elser
The Countryman Press
Woodstock VT, 1998
255 pages, hardbound
illustrated, B/W photos
Suggested Retail, $50.00

reviewed by Bruce Harang

             Surprisingly, in an otherwise literature rich sport, there have been few quality fly-rod-building books. The ones that come readily to mind are AMATEUR RODMAKING, by Perry D. Frazer in 1914, A MASTER'S GUIDE TO BUILDING A BAMBOO FLY ROD, by Everett Garrison in 1977. Thus, when a book on fly rod building is published, it is greedily snapped up. Usually, however, the new books turn out to be both poor in quality and short on useful information.
            With the publication of the authors' book a new star has risen in the craft of fly-rod building. The book is clearly written with excellent editing and superb layout and design. The reader will gain the necessary information to successfully build bamboo fly rods. Moreover, he will thoroughly enjoy doing so because of the fine writing. The photographs clearly illustrate the text they accompany. If there is a downside to this book it is the average quality of the photograph reproduction. While the photographs are clear enough for the reader to understand what is illustrated, they are not up to the same standard as the rest of the book.
            What the authors have done is combine the years of experience of a professional bamboo fly rod builder with the questioning insight of a beginner to provide a book that clearly teaches the reader how to successfully build a bamboo fly rod. Everything in the way of tools, materials, and procedures is here. Moreover, it is provided with enough detail to allow success without unnecessary minutia to cause confusion. For example, instead of dozens of rod tapers, the authors provide the reader with 18 rod tapers, which provide great fly rods while being straight forward enough to allow the beginner to find success from the start. At the same time the authors provide a clear and concise explanation of taper design to allow the reader to develop more involved and personalized rod tapers as he gains in experience.
            The book contains a good list of suppliers of all of the tools and materials the bamboo rod builder requires. In addition, the book contains clear and concise descriptions and instructions for building the tools that are either unavailable commercially, or as an alternative to expensive ready-made products. Also included is a glossary of technical terms used in the bamboo rod building craft. The book simply will not let the beginning rod-builder flounder in the dark.
            Countryman Press must also take credit for a wonderfully designed and implemented publication. The binding, paper stock, dust jacket photograph, and overall printing are all of the highest quality. These factors are not often appreciated, but go a long way toward making this book easy to read.
            Overall, one of the finest instructional books you will find, and a must have volume for any serious fly fishing library.

© 1998 Bruce E. Harang


Constructing Cane Rods
by Ray Gould
Frank Amato Publications, Inc., 1998
Portland, OR
84 pages, Spiral Hardbound
illustrated, Color
suggested price, $39.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             This slim volume contains thirteen short chapters that provide an excellent overview of the craft of bamboo fly rod making. The book is very well illustrated with color photographs. However the quality of the color plates is very inconsistent. Many color plates are top quality and many are mediocre to poor in quality.
            The book provides four chapters on the building of bamboo fly rods, two chapters on the history and physical properties of bamboo, two chapters on rod care, one chapter on utilizing a personal computer in fly rod taper design, two chapters on rod builders and rod building trends, and a chapter on where to find materials and equipment needed to build bamboo fly rods. This mix of topics provides a very good overview of bamboo fly rod building for anyone interested in this reemerging craft.
            Points of special interest include methods and tools to retighten loose ferrules, comparison charts between silk line designations and modern line weight numbers, and using a computer for developing rod tapers.
            The spiral bound hardcover large format is an excellent choice for a book you will want to have next to you at the work bench. The choice of a dull finished heavy paper stock further enhances the usability of the book.
            Overall, a good general overview of construction bamboo fly rods seeded with numerous true gems of information. While this book will not get a beginner building quality bamboo fly rods, it certainly is a good overview of the whole process, and a worthy addition to your bamboo rod building library.
© 1998 Bruce E. Harang


Steelhead & the Floating Line A Meditation
by Bob Arnold
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 1995
167 pages, softbound
illustrated, color and B&W
suggested price, $ 15.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             Bob Arnold is undoubtedly one of the most devoted wild Steelhead fly fishers alive today. More importantly, Bob is also undoubtedly one of the Steelhead's greatest proponents. Bob has spent the better portion of his life in a mad love affair with a siren dressed in molten silver with crimson blazes, This passionate love affair has taken Bob on many an outing to pursue a fish of which legends are made. The wild Steelhead of mystic rivers such as the Stillaguamish, and Wenatchee. It has taken him to the shores of Steelhead Rivers and smoky barrooms with the giants of Steelhead fly fishing history. Most importantly it has lead Bob to be a leader in the fight to save the wild native Steelhead of the Pacific Northwest.
            All of his love and passion for this great fish and its habitat comes through in this book. You can not read this book without feeling the quickening of Bob's pulse and the rise of his blood pressure every time he speaks of his favorite rivers and the fish they produce. His enthusiasm is infectious. But there is more, far more. Bob tells the history of Steelhead fly fishing through the stories and experiences he has shared with the giants of this unique fly fishing quarry. Men such as Syd Glasso, Wes Drain, Lee Wulff, and George McLeod.
            Sprinkled like gold dust throughout this remembrance is the knowledge and skills learned over decades of fly fishing for Steelhead. For the reader who is willing to learn, Bob provides a doctorate program in successfully fly fishing for Steelhead. Careful attention paid to the fly fishing information in this book will make any fly fisherman a better Steelhead fly fisher. It will more over make any fly fisherman a better fly fisherman no matter what his quarry.
            Overall, a wonderful book which should be read by every fly fisherman interested in our sport. The information is worth far more than the price of the book. The wonderful stories and history of Steelhead fly fishing in the Pacific Northwest is also worth the price by itself. Get this book, read it, and be inspired.
© 1998 Bruce E. Harang


Fishing with the Presidents
by Bill Mares
Stackpole Books
Mechanicsburg, PA  1999
illustrated: Black & White
255 pages, softbound
suggested price: $14.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             The author has provided all of us with an insightful history of fishing and its relationship to our Presidents and presidential politics. Included in this work are reproductions of political cartoons and illustrations that document our changing attitudes, awareness and appreciation of fishing and our national leaders.
            Here you can learn about the leisure time practices of great outdoorsmen such as “Teddy” Roosevelt, great generals such as Dwight Eisenhower, and generally good people the likes of Jimmy and Roslyn Carter. In addition, you will laugh at some of the amusing fishing events that occurred to provide fodder for the political grist mills.
            A book full of history of our leaders and amusing side-lights of great and near-great leaders. Well worth the price of admission.
©
1999 Bruce E. Harang

 


Trout Flies and Flowers
by Ivan L. Mahoney
Lukken Color Corp.
Greenwich, CT  1998
49 pages, plus 30 note pages, hardbound
illustrated, Color and B&W
suggested price: $19.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             This little book brings a new and fascinating facet to fly-fishing. Using the blooming of plants to determine what flies are hatching. We have all become familiar with hatch charts. Therein are listed flies with calendar dates telling when the particular fly will hatch. Then, like in an English textbook, there are listed the exceptions to every rule. There are variations for geographical areas and wide ranges of dates for example. Thus, the angler is left to ferret out the actual hatching periods for himself.
            This book is based on the established biological principal that both the blooming of plants and the emergence of aquatic insects is determined largely by temperature and light levels. When the fly fisherman sees the maple trees just beginning to show red he will also see the Quill Gordon Mayfly, for example. It does not matter if you are in the Northeast, Midwest, or South. If there are maple trees and there are Quill Gordon Mayflies they will bloom together. Besides listing several indicator plants for each of fifteen different important hatches the author also gives dry, wet, and nymph patterns for each fly as well as water types where the angler should look to find the particular fly.
            The color plates and botanical illustrations by Veva Crozer are both magnificent. The color printing is superb.
            Overall, here is a wonderful volume to read and to use on the stream.
©
1998 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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