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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.

Fishing Small Streams with a Fly Rod
by Charles Meck
The Countryman Press
Woodstock VT, 1991
196 pages, hardbound
illustrated, B/W photos
Suggested Retail, $24.95

reviewed by Bruce Harang

             Charles Meck has been a college teacher for over 25 years. His writing style reflects this. You get nothing without a real struggle through pontificating prose. In addition Charles feels he must bask in the glow of the “famous”. This re­sults in constant “George famous and I” stories that are both boring to read and unnecessary to the story line.
            Wading through this book how­ever, will provide you with some good information. The leader formulas and rationale are insightful. The hatch charts and patterns to imitate major insect hatches are worth reviewing. The equipment suggestions and stream strategies will get you started down the right path.
            Overall, this is a book with useful information for the small stream beginner as well as the small stream enthusiast, but it must be dragged out of an unnecessarily obtuse writing style.
1992 Bruce E. Harang

Modern Atlantic Salmon Flies
by Paul C. Marriner
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 1998
127 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price, $ 34.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             Paul Marriner is well known to Atlantic Salmon fly fishermen the world over. He is likely the best known Canadian fly fishing author outside of Canada today. This book by Paul is interesting in that it documents the Atlantic Salmon flies that are currently favored in eastern Canada. As such the book title may be a bit misleading. These fly patterns include both modern new dressings as well as old Atlantic Salmon patterns, Steelhead patterns adapted for Atlantic Salmon fishing, and conversions of Spey and Dee style patterns adapted for use in Canadian waters. Within these boundaries this book is of top quality. The writing is clear, clean, and well thought out. Paul is a quality wordsmith and it shows. The photographs and their color plates are well done and easy to view. Each pattern description has a beautiful photograph of the completed fly immediately above it. In addition, there is a short historical note accompanying most patterns. A very nice touch that gives pattern originators credit for their work. The professional fly tyers with flies in the book are also listed with mailing addresses. Thus, those tyers who would like to purchase sample flies may do so.
            If you are interested in tying Atlantic Salmon flies which are successful in Canadian waters these is the book to give you the necessary information.
            Overall, a very important addition to the avid fly tyers library and well worth the cost.
1998 Bruce E. Harang

Patterns and Places
by Edward Davis
Winchester Press
Clinton, NJ  1991
236 pages, hardbound
illustrated, color and B&W
suggested price          $24.95 

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            Ed Davis is a Canadian with almost 50 years of experience fly fishing in Canada and the U.S. Ed’s book is a series of 25 chapters (vignettes). In each, he shares a fly fishing experience with the reader. During the sharing, he teaches the reader about fly patterns, tying techniques, presentation, and appropriate gear.
            The book is pleasant to read and has a wealth of practical information for the reader who is willing to see the stories on more than one level.
            The book’s scope is very interesting. The author combines trout fishing, Atlantic salmon fishing, smallmouth bass fishing, and bonefish fishing in a single volume. While the mix may seem odd, the reader has no problem following along due to the fine writing and good overall layout.
            Another bonus is that the book can be found on the closeout sections of several bookshops, making the price extremely attractive.
            Good grammar, good layout and good stories make this a book well worth the read.
1991 Bruce E. Harang

A Perfect Fish, Illusions in Fly Tying
by Ken Abrames
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 1999
110 pages, Softbound
illustrated, Color
suggested price, $29.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             Ken Abrames is either an artist who fly fishes for Striped Bass or a fly fisherman of Striped Bass that paints. Either way, Ken brings a unique and wonderful perspective to fly fishing and fly tying for the Striped Bass. In this book, "A Perfect Fish - Illusions in Fly Tying" Ken combines his artists' eye for form and color with a fly fisherman's love and objective observations of the Striped Bass. This is translated into a one-of-a-kind fly tying book.
            Here is a fly pattern book with well-written and illustrated fly patterns mixed with outstanding artwork of the Striped Bass, the Bass' prey, and the author's fly imitations of that prey. However, it does not end so simply. The author adds exquisite prose and poetry about the Striped Bass and the fly fisherman. The book is yet further enhanced by clear, concise, information about fishing for the Striped Bass.
            Ken exposes both his innovative, artistic side and his tradition bound fly tying side in a single book. His imitative patterns utilize both traditional materials and modern materials in new adaptations of old methods. Yet, he prefers using the traditional scientific name for his chosen quarry - Roccus Leneatus Saxatilis to the fishes' modern scientific name.
            This is one of a very few fly tying manuals that are also coffee table art books.
            Overall, this book is such a beautiful volume that every fly fisherman should add it to his library whether or not he fishes for the Striped Bass.
1999 Bruce E. Harang

Royal Coachman
y Paul Shullery
Simon & Shuster
New York, NY  1999
200 pages, Hardbound
not illustrated
suggested price: $24.00

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             This is an exquisite collection of personal fly fishing memories written with the history of fly-fishing and trout ecology clearly in view. This is also an important work on several levels. Here is a well documented starting point for anyone desiring to research the early history of fly-fishing and fly-fishing writers in early America. It is also a fine discourse on man’s constant overbearing smugness in playing with, and messing up, nature. In addition it is provides a fine example of why we should not, and can not, actually impinge on the course of ecological change.
            Finally, it is just plain good prose about a subject we truly love. This is a “must have” volume for everyone who loves fly-fishing.
1999 Bruce E. Harang

Steelhead Fly Tying Guide
by H. Kent Helvie
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 1994
94 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price, $ 24.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             Kent Helvie has provided the Steelhead fly tyer with a very good basic fly pattern book. There are both modern and "classic" steelhead fly patterns of every type. Each style of Steelhead fly has clearly illustrated and described tying instructions. In addition, each pattern also has a photograph of the completed fly in one of the many fly plates.
            The book opens with a very short history of Northwest Coast Steelhead fly fishing, and a well thought out and useful section on the fly tying materials important to the Steelhead fly tyer.
            The writing style is clear and easy to read. The photographs are of excellent quality. However, the choice of a multi-colored background does seriously detract from viewing the flies. In many cases parts of the fly blend into the background and are lost. The flies are beautifully tied and illustrate not only the patterns, but the work of a master fly tyer. They surely set a standard for the rest of us.
            Overall, a good addition to the fly tyers library. An excellent choice for a first book on Steelhead fly tying.
1998 Bruce E. Harang

The Striped Bass Chronicles
by George Reiger
Lyons & Burford
New York, NY  1997
194 pages, hardbound
not illustrated
suggested price  $22.95

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             The author has written a definitive work on the striped bass. He has a well developed history of both the fish and the fisherman from the earliest records to the present. In addition, there is wonderful insight into fishing methods and equipment.
            All of the information is written in a style that makes the reading easy and fun. The grammar and editing are also first class.
            If you have any interest in fly fishing for striped bass this book is a must.
            Overall, a good read on the subject of the striped bass.
1997 Bruce E. Harang

The Trout and the Fly
by Brian Clarke & John Goddard
Lyons & Burford
New York, NY  1995
192 pages, hardbound
illustrated Color and B&W
suggested price:         $40.00 

reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

            This is a first U.S. printing of a 1980 British standard on fly fishing for trout on streams and rivers by two of Britain’s best trout fishermen.
            The book has five sections. They are Observation, Vision, The World of Trout, Technique and Imitation. Each section brings to bear the unique and innovative thinking as well as clear objective observations of these two first class fly fishermen.
            Section 1 deals with how to locate trout. What to look for to see trout, trout behavior, typical trout lies and feeding behavior. Section 2 moves on to how a trout’s vision works. What the trout can see, and what he cannot. Included is some really ground breaking information regarding how a trout sees a fly. The next section, unnumbered in the book, deals with what the trout sees of the fisherman. This information was truly new when first printed in 1980. It is still misunderstood by many so called “experts” today almost two decades later. Section 3 is an in depth clinic on fishing the nymph and especially the deep water nymph. Fishing techniques for the dry fly are also thoroughly discussed in this section. Finally, Section 4 details the special patterns the authors have invented to meet the special needs of difficult trout and trout locations.
            One of the pleasant parts of this book is the authors’ carefully and fully crediting the work and invention of those who came before them. It is really refreshing to have an author admit he did not invent all of fly fishing by himself. This giving of credit where credit is due has all but disappeared in American angling prose.
The color photographs of trout rises, and trout lies are extremely well done as well as very informative. When you realize they were taken of wild fish in their natural environment they are amazing work, indeed. Other interesting points include the Upside Down (USD) fly patterns, the heavily weighted shrimp pattern, the flash back nymph style, the use of “keel” hooks for dry fly patterns, and a long nymphing leader formula of utmost simplicity and utility.
            Overall, an extremely well written book with information of real use even two decades after it was first put to press. Well worth adding to your library.
1999 Bruce E. Harang

Tube Flies, A Tying, Fishing & Historical Guide
by Mark Mandell & Les Johnson
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Portland, OR, 1995
95 pages, softbound
illustrated, color
suggested price, $39.95 hardbound, $ 29.95 softbound

 reviewed by Bruce E. Harang

             The authors have added immeasurably to the fly tier's repertoire with this wonderful volume dedicated to the tube fly. Here in one slim volume is collected a brief history and a full range of applications regarding tube flies for the first time. For the tier wanting to try tying tube flies there are well written and beautifully photographed tying sequences. For the beginner tube fly tier there are well-documented sections on tools, equipment, and materials. For the innovative fly tier there are thought provoking ideas on the use of both traditional materials and modern materials. For everyone there is a full range of tube fly applications. Tube fly patterns and applications for panfish to billfish and every game fish in-between.
            There are basic tying instructions, including photographic illustrations, for Atlantic salmon tube flies, Streamer tube flies, Slider tube flies, and Popper tube flies. There are sections on using foam, plastic, and balsa for popper and slider bodies. Information is also included on converting traditional classic Atlantic salmon and Streamers to tube flies. A list of sources for the materials and tools used in tying tube flies is also included. This wealth of information will allow every tier to get a successful start in tube fly tying.
            The authors have also brought the currently best tube fly tiers to the attention of the whole fly tying community. More importantly, the authors have brought the collective wisdom, knowledge; skills of these tube-fly fly tiers to the forefront.
            One of the really pleasant aspects and strong points of the book are the photographs done by Jim Schollmeyer. Jim clearly understands the color photographic medium as well as the color-printing medium used to convert photographs to printed illustrations. Each photograph is clear, focused, well lighted, and pleasing to look at. The high quality of the photography even overcomes the use of a coated paper stock, which is really to glare producing for use at the tying table.
            Overall, this is a book of high enough quality to justify the higher cost of the hardbound edition, and that has a place in every fly tier's library.
1999 Bruce E. Harang


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Copyright © 1997 - 2006 Bruce E. Harang
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Last modified: January 04, 2006