By Sam Larson
I have a sizable collection of fly fishing books. Sometimes I’ll review one. I’ll keep it under 500 words. Any longer and you should just go read the book. Expect slander, personal opinion, and unbridled honesty. I like both books and fly fishing too much to be nice.
This book appeals to me on a couple different levels. First, it has the same encyclopedic picture book thing that drew me in to The Complete Illustrated Directory of Salmon and Steelhead Flies. It’s fun to just browse through and the format of the book works equally well for actual reading or just aimlessly flipping and looking for a new pattern to fool around with. Second, I am a history nerd and the history of fly fishing, the people, the flies, the rivers, and so on, is a huge part of the appeal for me. Mix the two things together into a historically interesting flippable book with tons of fly patterns in it (well, fifty patterns) and you’ve got a winner.
In addition to the specific flies that are covered in the back half of the book there’s also a decently large chunk of writing that’s just general history of the sport. It’s always interesting to go back to the roots of flyfishing and see where we’ve taken it. I have a double armful of historical works concerning fly fishing and this one is certainly the most approachable. Non-academic, factoid-based, and easy to read and then put down, this book would be rewarding to anyone interested in fly fishing or fly tackle and wouldn’t intimidate the novice angler. I would buy this book for someone who was just getting into tying flies and taking their first steps into the big, wide world of fly patterns and the heightened opinions and emotions that surround them.
My only complaint, and it’s very minor one, is that the author chose to use paintings of historical flies instead of photos. The choice of paintings works well within the overall book design, it matches the aesthetic and the paintings perhaps fit the book slightly better than a glossy photo, but I still think pictures would have been clearer and more illustrative of the various parts of the flies. My two cents. Like I said, it’s a small complaint.
This book gets a solid two thumbs up from Blue Lines. It’s a great addition to the bookshelf and one that I return to frequently.