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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.


Spey Flies & How to Tie Them
by Bob Veverka
Stackpole Books
Mechanicsburg, PA, 2004
160 pages, hardbound
illustrated, Color and Black & White
suggested price $39.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            Bob Veverka is one of the premier salmon fly tyers in the world today. He is also one of the premier fly tying instructors. This book clearly shows both of these attributes. The book starts with an Introduction that provides the reader with the authorís background in salmon fly tying. The body of the book then commences with a concise history of the Spey and Dee style flies from earliest writings to the newest innovations and innovators of the Pacific Northwest. The text is accompanied by flies tied to illustrate clearly the dressings of this written history. The second chapter is devoted to materials suitable for use in this type of fly tying. This chapter contains information on many materials that have been used for hundreds of years but have never before been so carefully described and detailed as has been done by the author. This materials chapter is worth the cost of the book all by itself for anyone interested in tying these beautiful and deadly flies.
            The last six chapters are each directed to a specific style of fly. Starting with Spey patterns, then Dee patterns, River Don patterns, Eagle patterns, Spey-type patterns and finishing with Steelhead Spey patterns. In each of these chapters there is short history introduction followed by a step-by-step instruction section to tie one pattern of the style, and ending with a list of pattern recipes covering the most famous and popular patterns of the style. The book concludes with a materials sources list, a bibliography, and a well-done index.
            The only disappointments for me were two minor points. First, in the step-by-step tying of the Waddington Shank Akroyd Dee Fly the treble hook is dressed with good instructions and then the Waddington shank is dressed with good instructions, but the mounting of the treble hook is forgotten and does not even show up until the 26th and last step when the head is being finished off. Second, having the fly plates on a whole page and the identification on a facing page requiring counting the position of a fly of interest and then having to go to another page to count the pattern name positions to find the correlation is cumbersome to the reader. Other than these the editing, layout and printing are extremely well done.
            This book is so beautiful one could easily mistake it for a coffee table art book. The color plates of the flies done by Michael Radencich are absolutely outstanding. If you havenít seen Michaelís work in designing images of flies you will be in for a wonderfully pleasant surprise. When Michael does fly photos even samples of dubbing become a work of art.
            Whether you are looking for a beautifully illustrated book of Spey and Dee patterns, excellent step-by-step illustrated tying instructions, or simply wonderful images of beautiful flies this book will not disappoint. This volume is worth twice the asking price.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies
by Sylvester Nemes
Stackpole Books
Mechanicsburg, PA, 2004
173 pages, softbound
illustrated, Color
suggested price $34.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            Sylvester Nemes is Americanís only soft-hackle fly writer. His previous four books are the only American volumes solely directed to this very old and still very effective style of fly. With this fifth book the author provides the soft-hackle fly fisherman and fly tier with a concise history of the published history of the soft-hackle fly style. The writing style is interesting enough to make this history fun to read and a pleasure to learn. This alone makes this an important volume in the fly fishermanís literature. But the author provides a lot more than bare bones history. He provides the reader with the pattern recipes from the various references as well as top quality images of those patterns tied by him. And he provides excerpts and illustrations from the references to provide the reader with valuable information on materials and procedures for making and fishing this remarkable style of fly.

            Here at last is a top-notch reference compiling the historical works that record the soft-hackled fly style published in the English language.

            This book will bring pleasure to everyone who enjoys fly-fishing, fly tying, and the rich field of literature surrounding our favorite sport.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Tying Small Flies
by Ed Engle
Stackpole Books
Mechanicsburg, PA, 2004
231 pages, hardbound
illustrated, Color
suggested price $34.95

                                 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            The author has taken his eleven years of Small Fly columns for Fly Tyer magazine, updated, revised, and augmented them into a book that covers a practical approach to tying small flies like no one before him. The book details pragmatic, efficient, and productive methods and materials for the small fly tier. This may not seem to be much of accomplishment to someone who has not tied on hooks below size 18, but for those that do and those that would like to, this book is unparalleled. The author goes way beyond simply listing successful patterns, although they are documented here. Much more importantly he provides the tier with the information regarding hooks, threads, synthetic materials, and natural materials that lend themselves to use in tying on hooks in sizes from 18 to 32. The chapter on the modern small hooks is worth the price of the book by itself. There is also well presented information on weighting small flies, and a short history of small flies. The balance of the book is devoted to methods and materials to tie various classes of tiny insect imitations. Included are chapters on Midge Larvae and Midge Pupae, Surface Midges, Olives, Tricos, Microcaddis, Microscuds, and tiny Ants. The remaining chapters discuss styles of flies that lend themselves to small fly construction such as tiny parachutes, floating nymphs and snowshoe rabbits foot hair to replace CDC in tiny patterns.
            For anyone fishing waters requiring tiny flies this book will provide you with every tool you need to tie flies successfully that take fish. For Tailwaters, spring creeks, and hard-fished destination waters these flies may well provide you with the edge you need to catch good fish.
            The book itself is well designed, edited, and illustrated allowing easy and enjoyably reading. It is also well designed for using the book at bench side both as a pattern book, and as a method and material reference book. A must have in every fly tiers library.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Trout of the World
by James Prosek
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
New York, NY, 2003
223 pages, hardbound
illustrated, Color
suggested price $32.50

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            The author takes us on a trip of circumnavigation of the world by way of fishing for trout. Trout from the well-known and famous places such as the chalk streams of England, the tiny streams of Japan, the brawling rivers of Siberia, and the Tailwaters of the western United States are all here. So too are trout from the mountains of Turkey, the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, Iceland, Russia, and the many Republics created from the old USSR. Each trout is described as to its physical characteristics and location and accompanied by a full-page watercolor image of the trout.
            While the book title says Trout, the author includes trout, char, and Pacific salmon. So there are Rainbows, Brook Trout, Lenok, Huchen, and Cherry Salmon as well as Brown trout, and Atlantic salmon.
            This is a wonderful collection of fish images from fish the author and his friends actually caught. The book is easy to read, and a pleasure to look at.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


The Color of Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing on the Olympic Peninsula
by Doug Rose
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 2003
156 pages, softbound
illustrated, color plates
suggested price $15.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            The author has written a laymanís wild steelhead manifesto. A call to arms to protect the wild steelhead runs being systematically destroyed by the politics of the logging and land development industries and their paid politicians. For anyone concerned about protecting the diversity of life on this planet the information in this book will be highly disturbing. This debacle by the state of Washington is tempered by personal vignettes for fishing these beautiful streams that hold some of the worldís most unique fish. And there are even a few ďgood newsĒ stories about beating the powers that be with their own stick, though far too few. This is a disturbing history of the political scientific pabulum used by the power interests of Washington State to drive systematically a biologically diverse species to extinction for a fist full of dollars.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Trout Flies of the West
by Jim Schollmeyer and Ted Leeson
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 1998
128 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price $34.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This is an outstanding book of contemporary fly patterns from the western United States. Fly shops and guides from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast have proved the reader with some of the most interesting, innovative, and fish catching flies for trout available today.
            The book comprises nine chapters covering General Attractor & Multi-purpose Flies; Mayflies; Caddisflies; Stoneflies; Midges, Craneflies, & Aquatic Worms; Damselflies, Dragonflies, Backswimmers, Water Boatmen, & Water Beetles; Terrestrials; Baitfish & Leeches; and Crustaceans. There is also an excellent fly pattern index as well as an index of pattern originators and tyers as well as a contributor information section.
            Each pattern has a well-written recipe, comments section where appropriate, a main photograph of the fly pattern with a green background, and where appropriate additional photographs depicting alternate views and dressings having a blue background. The different background colors allow the reader to identify quickly the main pattern rendition from alternate versions. Another nice touch is that no pattern is split over more than one page. This means the reader never has to flip pages to see the complete pattern or while tying a fly following the pattern.
            The writing is clear and easy to read. The design and layout are superb. The photographs are outstanding as has come to be expected of these two authors.
            For the fly tyer or fly fisher that desires to be on top of the western fly patterns being used successfully today this is a great volume. It is clearly well worth the price and provides excellent value to both fly tyer and fly fisher.

 © 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Fly Fishing For Summer Steelhead
by John Shewey and Forrest Maxwell
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 1996
47 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price $15.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This book is divided into seven short chapters, the first six of which provide the novice fly-fishing steelheader with the information necessary to succeed in catching steelhead on a fly. These chapters are straightforward and do not get cluttered with reams of information that can overwhelm the novice trying to hookup to leaping chrome. These six chapters cover the Confidence Factor, Tackle, Flies, Wet Fly Swing method of presentation, Reading Water for Steelhead, and Greased-Line and Skating variations of presenting a fly on the swing. The seventh chapter presents some information on transitioning to winter steelhead fishing.
            The most important piece of information is the one column on The Confidence Factor. The authors have very succinctly and accurately defined the essence of fly-fishing for steelhead. You absolutely, positively must believe you will catch a steelhead on every cast. This is the true secret of steelhead fly-fishing.
            The writing is clean and easy to read. The editing is very well done as is the layout and design. Some of the images are not of top-notch quality which is a bit disappointing. In addition, some of the gear information is now dated eight years down the road. However, for the fly-fishing steelhead novice this little book will definitely get you into the game with a good probability of success.
            Overall, this book offers good advice at a good value.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Introduction to Spey Casting
by John & Amy Hazel
Cascade Mediaworks, LLC
Portland, OR 2004
1 video tape or 1 DVD
Full Color
suggested price $34.95

                                 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang 

            Currently this is clearly the best beginner Spey casting video available. Better yet it is available in DVD format making it tremendously easy to use as a study guide by allowing the viewer to pick exactly the cast he wants to learn and jump directly to it. It claims to be directed to the beginning and intermediate Spey caster and it certainly meets its goal. I reviewed the DVD version.
            The DVD is divided into five sections covering an introduction, equipment, beginning casts, intermediate casts, and a summary. In turn the equipment section is divided into a chapter on rods & reels and one on lines & leaders. The beginning casts section is divided into six chapters covering the double Spey, reverse double Spey, reverse circle Spey, circle Spey, single Spey and snap-T casts. Likewise, the intermediate casts section is broken down into chapters covering the snake roll cast, reverse snake roll cast, power roll cast, and the overhead cast. The summary reviews all the casts covered in the previous sections and chapters.
            The production is extremely well done allowing the viewer to see the rod and line during casts so the viewer can more clearly understand what is trying to be accomplished by each casting maneuver. The dialog is clear, concise, and directly related to the task at hand. This combination of top-notch script and production makes this the best choice of learning material for the beginning Spey caster. The only improvement that should be made is to rework Amyís sound track a bit to tone down her shouting into the microphone. This tends to make her voice a bit hard on the listenerís ears.
            If you cannot have live instruction to learn to Spey cast this DVD is the best available alternative for the beginning Spey caster.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Tying the Classic Salmon Fly
by Mike Radencich
Michael D. Radencich
Holt, MO 2004
2 DVD set
Full Color
suggested price $49.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

          If you have wanted to learn to tie classic Salmon flies but didnít quite know exactly how to go about it this two DVD set by Mike Radencich is the hands down best instructional information available short of private lessons with a master. Mike walks you through the complete tying of a single pattern, the Jock Scott. Everything is here in clear concise discussion and crisp clean images. You learn exactly how to mount the hook in a vise, how to prepare the twisted gut eye and how to attach it to the blind-eye hook. Over 192 minutes of personal direction by the author shows the viewer how exactly to lay every wrap of thread and fiber of material. You not only learn how to do the major steps such as wrapping a silk floss body and marry strips of feather fibers together to form a complete wing, you will also learn how to match the curve of the tip of the under-wing to that of the tail, how to create a smooth underbody, and how to tie in all of the materials creating the finished wing while maintaining the ability to finish the fly with a tiny head. And tricks like how to recreate the crimp found in authentic Indian Fruit Crow in a substitute made from ring neck pheasant feathers. Just as importantly, Mike teaches you how to plan your salmon fly and its parts so that your finished fly looks as you want it too. How to select the various component parts for the raw materials and what raw materials are available for the various parts.
         
To give an idea of the detail in this production the forming and tying on of the Gut Loop is covered in five steps and takes eight minutes. The tying of the Tip and the Tag also is covered in five steps that take over thirteen minutes. And creating and tying in the Under-Wing and Wing covers nine steps taking almost forty-five minutes.
         
The production, photography, video photography, scripting, music, and post production were all done by Mike, and like his published photographs of salmon flies, it is all done impeccably. This is quite simply the finest salmon fly tying media production ever produced. The value of the information and instruction far exceeds the modest price of the two DVD set. Using this DVD set will jump-start your salmon fly tying by years over self-teaching or reading books. Get these DVDs, pay attention, and start tying great looking classic salmon flies.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Tying Fly Patterns for Stillwaters
b
y Phil Rowley
TrueNorth Entertainment, Inc.
Delta, BC, Canada 2004
1 DVD
Full Color
suggested price $24.95 USD 

                                 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             Phil Rowley is a genuinely nice guy, first class fly tyer and fly pattern creator, and a good instructor. This DVD showcases eighteen productive patterns Phil has developed and tested for Stillwater fly-fishing. In the DVD Phil provides clear and concise dialog to assist the viewer with all the information required to tie the patterns. The patterns include mayfly nymphs, scuds, scrimp, dragon fly nymphs, damsel fly nymphs, leeches, and Diptera. For several of these classes of trout food items more than one pattern is presented allowing the viewer to pick and choose the best for his personal fishing conditions. The one thing the author could do to make the production better would be to not hold his scissors in his hand and have them block the view of the fly while he ties.
            The DVD opens with a short useful introduction, moves to the tying sequences for the eighteen patterns, followed by a great segment of live video of the various classes of food items the patterns are intended to represent, and ends with credits screen and a screen advertising other products.
            Unfortunately, the production of the DVD is poor. The introduction could have been used to advise viewers to view the entomology section first. This would have increased the viewers understanding of why the patterns are tied and formed the way they are. The commentatorís script was out of sync with the pattern series. It seems that the shooting was not done in the order finally published so the comments to earlier flies come before those flies are tied. In addition, the commentator doesnít seem to know anything about the subject and in several cases detracts from the visual and audio presentation of the author. The materials lists presented before each pattern are visual only and fade out far to quickly for the viewer to read completely. The lighting is abysmal at best. The use of a hot spot light on the center of the background and only a spot overhead of the hook creates a situation where the tierís hands block the overhead light and the overly bright background leave the viewer to see only a black silhouette of the fly in the vise. Color in many cases is completely lost so that you cannot see the effect the author is discussing. The worst production decisions however, was fading to black before each step in the tying and having an obnoxious synthetic female voice tell you what step you are going to view. The voice is so bad it makes HAL in 2001 a Space Odyssey sound chatty. In addition, it breaks the viewerís concentration and destroys the intimacy between the author and his viewer.
            Overall, this is a great set of Stillwater patterns that get lost in the production glitz. Purchase the author's book and save your money on the DVD until the remake.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


Streamer Fishing for Trophy Trout
by Kelly Galloup
Cascade Mediaworks, LLC
Portland, OR 2004
1 video tape or 2 DVDs
Full Color
suggested price $29.95 VHS & $34.95 DVD

                                 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             Kelly Galloup is a legend among those that seek truly large Brown trout. His techniques and fly patterns are radical but they are also extremely productive. Kelly has distilled years of trial and error into two hours of some of the best instructional information available on catching trophy trout.
            The information is available in both VHS video tape format and DVD disc format. I would highly recommend the DVD format as it allows you to go directly to the section of the information you want. Both formats cover the same material however, so you will get the same informational value in either format.
            The information is broken down into nine chapters or sections. These chapters are The Predator Theory, Rigging for Streamers, Holding Water, Fishing the Far Bank, Wade Fishing Streamers, Jerk-Strip Retrieve, Boulder & Pocket Water, Mid-River Holding Water, and Streamer Flies for Trophy Trout. Literally everything you need to know to be successful at catching trophy trout in moving water is covered and covered well. Two of the most interesting and important items presented are the authorís Jerk-Strip Retrieve including the logic behind this particular streamer presentation method, and the fly patterns developed by the author and his system of fishing these patterns. Once you view this production you will have been exposed to a masterís system of catching very large fish on streamers. If you have an interest in learning to fish streamers effectively or to improve your streamer fishing this production will give you the tools necessary to do it.
            The production is well done with excellent cinematography, sound, and script. The authorís style produces an easy to understand and fun to see production that clearly presents the information in a useable manner. The only small distraction is the fact that the navigation of the chapters on the DVD is a bit eccentric, not a big deal, but a bit frustrating until you figure it out.
            This is a well-done production in all aspects and presents tested information to allow the viewer to have a jump-start toward successful streamer fishing. A must have for any serious large trout flyfisher.

© 2004 Bruce E. Harang


 

 

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

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