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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.

Frontier Flies Patterns on the Cutting Edge
by Troy Bachmann
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.,
Portland, OR, 1998
127 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price, $ 29.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             When I saw the title in a catalog I was really interested. A fly pattern book of innovative patterns it screamed at me. Frontier flies, cutting edge flies. Really new and innovative patterns, heady stuff indeed.
            Imagine my disappointment when I received the book and sat down and started reading it. It indeed was strictly a pattern book. Each pattern had a printed recipe and a photograph of the finished fly. Well all right, it did say "patterns on the cutting edge" not techniques. But why was the same pattern repeated 3 or 4 or more times with the only difference being the color? Why was there a number on the bottom right-hand side of every photograph? Why were most of the patterns simply well known ones, and slight variations thereof?
            When I reached page 123 I found out the answers to all of my questions. This is simply a catalog to order flies from the Frontier Fly Company! The purchaser is paying $30 dollars for a catalog and order form. This is simply a poor imitation of the Umpqua Feather Merchants pattern books.
            The quality of the photographs is poor. Many of the colors are clearly wrong with improper color balance and intensity. The gloss surfaced paper makes it difficult to read the book at the fly tying table under the strong tying lamp light.
            Overall, a book you need not even bother opening let alone purchasing.
1998 Bruce E. Harang

Modern Fur Flies
by Petri Pajunen
Mayfly Oy
Espoo, Finland, 1998
48 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price, $ through Frank Amato Publications, Inc.

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             This small volume is mostly an advertising brochure for Finish captive-bred fur for use in fly tying. The book is a British translation of a Finish original, which makes for interesting reading in spots. This is not a major problem, but you must stop and reread some information to glean what is trying to be conveyed.
            The book contains 35 patterns for a large number of styles of flies. However, the written tying procedure instructions are very poorly done. The color photographs are generally of moderate quality, though most pattern tying procedures can be decoded from these photographs and the printed recipes.
            This book presents some interesting starting points for using captive-bred fur as a substitute for more traditional fly tying materials. However, to effectively use the captive bred fur materials, you should buy a package of a material of interest and play with the material. You will be farther ahead.
            Overall, this is a book of very limited information, and one with below average composition, and grammar.
1998 Bruce E. Harang

Tying Glass Bead Flies
by Joe J. Warren
Frank Amato Publications, Inc., 1997
Portland, OR
64 pages, Hardbound, spiral binding
illustrated, Color
suggested price, $35.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             If you are like me, when glass beads came upon the fly tying scene a few years ago, you passed them by. Or, if you did anything with glass beads, it was to add a iridescent bead to the body of caddis emerger patterns. After a few outings the flies got pushed into a forgotten corner of the fly box and the beads got lost in the fly tying materials storage boxes. After a few articles in the fly fishing periodicals, the few published glass bead patterns seemingly disappeared.
            With the publication of Joe J. Warren's book on tying with glass beads this has all changed. Now the innovative fly tyer has a cornerstone work to use in his pursuit of better flies using this modern form of an old material, glass beads. More particularly, "seed" and "pebble" beads. These beads range in size from approximately 1/16" to 5mm OD beads. Surprisingly, these beads fit on hooks from size 28 to over 1/0 and are strong enough for use in all forms of fly fishing if properly mounted on the hook.
            The book is well organized into chapters on Materials, Single Bead Flies, Bead-Body Flies, Dressed Bead-Body Flies, Extended Bead-Body Flies, Imitations of Naturals, Searching Flies, Flies for Anadromous Fish, and Saltwater Flies. Each chapter dealing with a type of bead fly starts with overview of that particular style of fly and then gives explicit tying instructions of several patterns utilizing the particular style. The instructions include both well written text and excellent step-by-step photographs.
            The chapters on Imitations of the Naturals provides pictures and recipes for 81 different Mayflies, Stoneflies, Caddisflies, Midges, Mosquitoes, Craneflies, Damelflies, Dragonflies, Crustaceans, Worms, Leeches, Terrestrials, and Fish Spawn. The chapter on Searching Flies provides pictures and recipes for 9 attractor patterns and 21 streamers. There are 51 patterns with pictures in the Anadromous Fish Flies chapter, and 20 saltwater patterns. Many of these are glass bead adaptations of well known and standard patterns, and many are new patterns developed for glass beads.
            The book is hardbound with a spiral binding so that it may be laid flat on the tying table for easy reference. The photography is generally very good, though there are some sections which have photographs with busy backgrounds and strange lighting. Some of the full page photographs were clearly amateur snap shots, but overall the photography is very well done. The art work by Lee Clarke is exceptionally well done. And the book includes a color chart of beads showing a wide range of colors, and finishes, which will be most helpful and welcome to a fly tyer just getting started in using glass beads for fly tying.
            Joe's writing style is clear, concise and his enthusiasm for the subject comes through clearly. He has not only brought excitement to glass bead fly tying, he has brought the original work of a good number of glass bead fly tyers to the forefront.
            Overall, a book full of fly tying fun well worth adding to any fly tying library.
1998 Bruce E. Harang

The Golden Age of Fly-Fishing
By Ralf Coykendall, editor
Countryman Press
New York, NY  1997
173 pages, hardbound
illustrated B&W
suggested price $32.50

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             The author grew up with The Sportsman magazine as his father was its advertising director for most of its existence. Here are twenty seven of the best this magazine had to offer between 1927 and 1937. This being the best of the sporting journals of its day, and possibly any day, these stories are in fact the best of the best.
            Learn of the discovery of the solunar tables by the man who made the discovery, John Alden Knight Jr. Read about anglers entomology from one of the first Americans to understand and appreciate its importance, Preston J. Jennings. Learn how to catch big trout by the trout guru of the Neversink, Edward R. Hewitt.
            While A. W. Dimock wrote the first material about taking tarpon on a fly it was the article on fly fishing for tarpon by George D. B. Bonbright in The Sportsman that catalyzed the sport to what it has become today.
            Possibly the most interesting observation you will make is that these stories from over a half a century ago are still applicable. Interestingly, this same information still appears in the fly fishing magazines on a regular basis. The authors names are new, and credit to these pioneers is not given, but ideas are the same. In addition, these words are beautifully complemented by illustrations by some of the greatest outdoor illustrators ever to hold a pencil.
            Overall, this is one of the finest collections of fly fishing prose ever written. Buy this book, you will not be disappointed. You will read it, and relish it for years to come.
1998 Bruce E. Harang

Tying Hair Wing Flies
By Al & Gretchen Beatty
Oregon Council of FFF
Eugene, OR  1997
94 pages, spiral softbound
illustrated, Color and B&W
suggested price $16.50

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             The authors count commercial fly tying among their talents. Therefore they are well versed in tying techniques which produce durable well proportioned flies. Here they share many of their tips and techniques learned over years of producing commercial quantities of hair wing flies.
            The book gives clear easy to read information about the natural materials used in tying hair wing flies. It also has step-by-step instructions for tying 13 popular hair wing patterns. The accompanying black and white photographs are very clear and generally well exposed and printed. The color photographs of each fly are all well done. A spiral binding allows the user to lay the book flat for use at the tying bench.
            The descriptions of how to measure the length and the amount of hair for wings and tails alone is worth far more than the price of this little book. The descriptions of tying the humpy style of fly are two of the very few that will produce wings of proper size, length, and density.
            If you tie using animal hair this book is a must.
            Overall, well done and worth far more than the cost of ownership.
1998 Bruce E. Harang

An Honest Angler
by Sparse Grey Hackle
edited by Patricia Miller Sherwood
The Lyons Press
New York, NY  1998
260 pages, hardbound
not illustrated
suggested price: $30.00

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             Here is some of the best writing of Alfred Miller (Sparse Grey Hackle). And therefore some of the best prose ever written about fly-fishing. A few selections can be found in the author’s many times reprinted book Fishless Days and Angling Nights. But most are from private letters and magazine articles now difficult if not impossible to find. All of these pieces are gems to be treasured. They are excellent examples of good writing. They have clarity, direction, and purpose all mixed with humor and a love of the outdoors.
            These are mostly pieces about fishing. But there are also articles involving the author’s military excursions during the Mexican War and World War I in France. You will laugh at the antics of the US Cavalry mules and cry over the poem about the ambulance drivers at the siege of Verdun.
            Overall, this is a great collection of one of the best outdoor writers of all time. This book is a must for every serious student of fly fishing literature.
1998 Bruce E. Harang

Tying & Fishing Southern Appalachian Trout Flies
by Don Howell & Kevin Howell
Fern Creek Press
Clayton, GA, 1999
104 pages, softbound
illustrated: Black & White with 4 color plates
suggested price: $19.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This slim volume is an important addition to preserving the history and lore of the Southern Appalachian fly tying heritage. Don and Dwight Howell were two of the foremost commercial fly tyers and fly pattern innovators of the Southern Appalachian region during the 1970’s through 1990’s. During this time Don And Dwight created some of the most successful modern era local fly patterns available.
            The book is divided into two major sections. The first deals with the history and tying procedures for 10 of the Howell brothers best patterns. The second section deals with fly-fishing techniques suitable for fishing the small laurel covered streams characteristic of our area.
            While the writing is clear, and well done, and the illustrations are excellent, the reproduction of the photographs is very poor. Additionally, it is disappointing to see so many photographs of dead fish taken during the most environmentally aware period fly-fishing has seen.
            Overall, this is a fine addition to the rather sparse literature documenting the long and illustrious fly-fishing heritage of the Southern Appalachians. It is also a tribute to son Kevin Howell to have seen to the successful publication of this important book.
1999 Bruce E. Harang

Morris & Chan on Fly Fishing Trout Lakes
by Skip Morris & Brian Chan
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR  1999
96 pages, Hardbound & Softbound
illustrated, Color
suggested price: $24.95 & $39.95

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This is one of the very few American books on fly-fishing for trout on Stillwater. It also turns out to be one of the finest. The volume contains fewer than one hundred pages, but they are all full of useful, insightful information. Comprising fifteen chapters, this slim volume has everything you need to get started or to improve your trout fly-fishing on flat water. There is information on lakes including how to read them and how to fish them. Information on fly-fishing equipment for lake fishing is well presented. Information on watercraft useful in the pursuit of your quarry is clearly explained and illustrated. Techniques for using your watercraft and the safety and courtesy necessary for safe and successful watercraft operation is also well explained.
            The sections covering trout food organisms in lakes and the fly patterns to imitate and suggest them are extremely well done. The explanations on what is and what is not required in casting ability is insightful and will provide a level of confidence a beginner does not normally have when trying something new.
            The photographs and illustrations are extremely well thought out and executed. Each photograph and illustration clearly helps to bring the well-written prose to life. The reader will never feel left at the starting gate with the information in this book. The design of the book and how the illustrations mesh with the text is also of highest quality.
            If you are interested in getting started in lake fishing for trout, or want to improve your lake fly fishing technique the information in this book will take you there. In addition, the information concerning lakes seasonal behavior as well as the seasonal behavior of fish and fish food is applicable to lake fly-fishing for many species in addition to trout. You cannot go wrong with purchasing and studying the information in this slim volume.
1999 Bruce E. Harang

by Malcolm Knopp & Robert Cormier
Greycliff Publishing Co.
Helena, MT  1997
366 pages, hardbound
illustrated, color and B&W
suggested price          $49.95 

reviewed by     Bruce E. Harang

             This pair of Canadian authors have done the fly-fishing world a great service with this volume. This is the first Mayfly entomology text and key both extremely well illustrated and contains the latest changes to Mayfly classification.
            The color photographs of Mayflies are of the same high quality as the benchmark photographs of Doug Swisher and Carl Richards. The illustrations are also extremely well done. All are clear and concise. The quality of the writing and illustrative materials is at the high level of a professional text. The style, prose, and good grammar are at the level that makes fun and interesting reading for the fly fisherman. One of the most useful features is the compilation of common (fly fisherman’s) names to that of the scientific names.
            If you fly fish for trout, this volume is an absolute must.
            Overall, equal to Schwiebert’s “Nymphs” and Swisher and Richards “Selective Trout”. Buy this book! Read it for the pleasure, then study it to help make your fly-fishing time far more productive.
1998 Bruce E. Harang

Meanderings of a Fly Fisherman
by Seth Norman
Wilderness Adventure Press
Gallatin Gateway, MT  1996
234 pages, hardbound
not illustrated
suggested price,   $29.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             This is the author’s first book in the fly fishing arena, but he is no stranger to writing. He is a Pulitzer Prize Nominee and a Golden Medallion winner. It is clear Seth can write well. This book clearly shows he can also write extremely well about fly fishing.
            The author gives the reader a series of twenty eight scenes revolving around fly fishing. There are stories from youth and from adulthood. Memories from college and from contact with patients in his professional career. Each one of these scenes carries the reader into a world of water and fish. Each allows the reader to glimpse life through the eyes of another. These are stories, inspirational, not technique and gear reviews. As such they are wonderfully alive. Highlighting the sheer joy of fly fishing and the outdoors.
            The author’s choice of words is well developed. The book is easy to read. It is also a book you don’t want to put down until your reach the last page.
            Overall, a great read well worth the price. This is a book you will definitely will want in your library to read and read again.
1998 Bruce E. Harang


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Last modified: January 04, 2006