Annotated Fly Fishing Bibliography
I don't have a large fly-fishing library, but I try to collect quality books that are interesting to me, useful in my writing, and that I can contain in a modest sized bookcase. The year before I started guiding, I would go to the public library and order 2-3 books on interlibrary loan every week. I kept this up for more than a year and quickly got a good feel for the best of angling literature. My interests lie in the more technical aspects of fly-fishing or works of historical significance, and I don't generally do much reading in the lighter stuff. The McGuanes and Gierachs are certainly fine writers, but most of my reading is not for entertainment.
The following books are ones I have in my library and are most acquainted with. Many are out-of-print, but can be found through used book services on the Internet. I hope you find some interesting books that are new to you in the listing below. Interlibrary loan at your local library is a great way to thoroughly check out a book before purchasing. It's also a way to find out-of-print books.
- An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America, Edited by R. W. Merritt and K. W. Cummins, third edition, Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1996.
The definitive work on morphology of aquatic insects. Fourth edition due out in early 2007. Not of interest for the average fisherman, but the person who is serious about the science of aquatic insects will find it necessary. The species list is ever evolving, and some of the species categories are out of date. They should always be cross checked with the most recent lists which can be found, for example, at Mayfly Central.
- Aquatic Entomology: The Fishermen's and Ecologists' Illustrated Guide to Insects and Their Relatives, by W. Patrick McCafferty, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1998.
A more angler friendly entomology than Merritt and Cummins. Useful glossary and cross reference list of the popular angling names for insects to the scientific names. Not viewed by many as an adequate scientific introduction, but still exceedingly useful to the angler.
- Art Flick's New Streamside Guide, by Art Flick, Crown Publishers, 1969.
A classic eastern guide for the angler to the major mayfly hatches and their imitation with classic Catskill patterns.
- Handbook of Hatches: An Introductory Guide to the Foods Trout Eat, and the Most Effective Flies to Match Them, by Dave Hughes, Stackpole Books, 1987.
A concise, helpful book covering most of the major insect groups and their imitation.
- Nymphs: A Complete Guide to Naturals and Their Imitations, by Ernest Schwiebert, Winchester Press, 1973.
Anything by Schwiebert is first class. A complete listing of aquatic nymphs of interest to the fly fisherman, along with fishing anecdotes, descriptions of life cycle and the author's own innovative patterns. Excellent illustrations by the author. One of my favorite and most used fishing books. Schwiebert passed away in December of 2005. He was close to having a revision of Nymphs done. His son has said he will attempt to see its publication through.
- The Caddisfly Handbook: An Orvis Streamside Guide, by Dick Pobst and Carl Richards, The Lyons Press, 1998.
A very handy and extremely useful caddisfly guide for the angler. Excellent photos.
- The Complete Book of Western Hatches: An Angler's Entomology and Fly Pattern Field Guide, by Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes, 1981.
As described in the subtitle. A good cross section of insects are covered.
- The Crayfishes of Missouri, by William L. Pflieger, The Missouri Department of Conservation, 1996.
A tremendously useful work on these important anthropods. Gives a clear description of the reproductive and life cycles. Includes a description of the longpincered crayfish which is native only to the White River basin and is a little known crayfish to White River anglers. I've seen the remains of these nocturnal blue pincered crawfish left on rocks where raccoons have feasted on them. I cannot find a description of migration behavior on crayfish here, and such behavior may be an angling myth. Crayfish do, however, become inactive in the winter and typically retain the last molting form they are in as cold weather approaches.
- Trout Stream Insects: An Orvis Streamside Guide, by Dick Pobst, Lyons & Burford
A modern, more up-to-date handy guide than Flick to identifying mayflies on both eastern and western streams. Limited coverage of midges, caddis, and stoneflies. An excellent guide to which I have referred many times. Great photos.
- The Dory Book, by John Gardner, Mystic Seaport Museum, 1987
The authoritative source on dories by the authority on dories. Great historical info, construction techniques, and plans. If you want to understand drift boats, you have to understand dories in general and their connection to our past.
- Building Small Boats, by Greg Rössel, A WoodenBoat Book, 2003
If Gardner's book is the Old Testament book on dory building, then Rössel's is the New Testament. Very useful material on necessary tools and how to make many of your own. Demystifies much about the process of planning and construction.
Cane Rod Making
- A Master's Guide to Building a Bamboo Fly Rod, by Everett Garrison and Hoagy B. Carmichael, Meadow Run Press, 1997.
The book that brought cane rod building methods out in the open. Companion video "Creating the Garrison Fly Rod" available from several sources on the Internet.
- Professional Glass and Split-Bamboo Rod Building Manual and Manufacturer's Guide, by George Leonard Herter, 1953.
A collector's item I picked up in a used book store. Hope to use it someday.
- A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle, by Dame Juliana Berners, Project Gutenberg Consortia Cente.
- The Compleat Angler, by Isaac Walton, The Gutenberg Project.
- The Life-Story of Insects, by Geo. H. Carpenter, A Project Gutenberg Ebook taken from the 1913 edition of The Cambridge Manuals of Science and
An outline sketch of the "facts and meaning of insect-transformations." Obviously dated, but some interesting comments on the relation of insects to angling. The updated html e-version contains the original illustrations.
- Bright Waters, Bright Fish, An Examination of Angling in Canada, by Roderick Haig-Brown, Timber Press, 1980.
A well known angler/conservationist's perspectives on conservation and fishing. Haig-Brown is often dubbed the "Successor" to Walton. Enjoyable reading if you like to think outside the box. His last book.
- McClane's New Standard Fishing Encyclopedia and International Angling Guide, edited by A. J. McClane, enlarged and revised, Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, 1974.
The authoritative angling encyclopedia. Out-of-print. Check on-line for used copies.
- Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders: A John Gierach Fly-fishing Treasury, by John Gierach, Simon and Schuster, 2000.
A copy was given to me by a very kind customer. If you guide, you must read "Guiding and Being Guided."
Fish By Species
- Brook Trout: A Thorough Look at North America's Great Native Trout—Its History, Biology, and Angling Possibilities, by Nick Karas, Lyons Press, 1997.
A wonderfully beautiful read on a wonderfully beautiful fish. Great on lore and facts about the last great remaining brook trout fisheries.
- Brown Trout Fly Fishing: A Practical Guide, by Chris J. Francis, Frank Amato, 1996.
An informative work on brown trout habits, likes and dislikes, strategies for fly fishing, and effective brown trout patterns.
- Cutthroat: Native Trout of the West, by Patrick C. Trouter, Colorado Associated University Press, 1987.
A scientist's detailed biological and historical look at one of our countries most important yet disrespected trout species.
- The Compleat Brown Trout, by Cecil E. Heacox, Winchester Press, 1977.
An older somewhat lacking work, but one of the first on the subject.
- The Striped Bass: The Classic Authoritative Book on One of Our Greatest Gamefish—Biology, Distribution, and Proven Fishing Techniques for Fresh and Saltwater, by Nick Karas, second edition, Lyons and Burford, 1993.
Gives Arkansas the short shrift, but a forgivable lack of focus. Otherwise an excellent work.
- Nature of Fly Casting: a Modular Approach, by Jason Borger, Shadow Caster Press, 2001.
A description, use and term for just about every casting movement.
- The Cast: Theories and Applications for More Effective Techniques, by Ed Jaworowski, Foreword by Lefty Kreh, Stackpole Books, 1992.
A very important book for casting theory. I had the pleasure of taking a casting class with Ed. Debunks much erroneous casting instruction.
Fly Fishing Tactics and Strategies
- A Modern Dry-Fly Code: The Classic and Revolutionary Book on Dry-Fly Fishing with Aquatic and Terrestrial Artificials, by Vincent C. Marinaro, Nick Lyons Books, 1970.
Marinaro was a master of trout behavior and problem solving.
- Drift Boat Fly Fishing: A River Guide's Sage Advice, by Neale Streeks, Frank Amato, 1995.
A wonderfully done book. A must for anyone interested in drift boating and useful to all fly fishers.
- Fly Fishing in Saltwater, by Lefty Kreh, Crown, 1974.
A great introduction to the challenges of salt water fly fishing. The book is now in its third edition.
- Fly Fishing Strategy, by Doug Swisher and Carl Richards, Illustrated by Dave Whitlock, Crown Publishers, 1975
This book and it predecessor Selective Trout [see below] kicked off what I like to think of as the practical modern approach to matching the hatch techniques. Schwiebert's book Matching the Hatch in 1955 got things rolling, but Swisher and Richards made fly-fishing gadget oriented with the stomach pump and discussions about stillborn duns. Describes how to make a homemade shooting head line. The books were later adapted into the exceptionally well done 3M video series.
- Fly Tying and Fly Fishing for Bass and Panfish, by Tom Nixon, second edition, A. S. Barnes, 1977.
A definitive work on the topic by a former local Ozark resident.
- In the Ring of the Rise, by Vincent Marinaro, Crown, 1976.
Competes with Bates for my favorite book. Nothing but kudos.
- Prospecting for Trout: Fly Fishing Secrets from a Streamside Observer, by Tom Rosenbauer, Delta, 1993.
The best book on reading trout water. Tom told me he had the most fun writing this book of any he has written. Read it slowly and mark it up. Full of useful information. Holds an honored spot on my bookshelf between Ovington and Bergman.
- Selective Trout: A Dramatically New and Scientific Approach to Trout Fishing on Eastern and Western Rivers by Doug Swisher and Carl Richards, Crown Publishers, 1971
A seasonal, stylistic and methodical approach to matching the hatch with imitative flies.
- Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing, by Joseph D. Bates, Jr., Stackpole Books, 1995.
Revised and enlarged by his daughter after his death. Perhaps my favorite all time fishing book. Full of history, technique, patterns, exploits, and characters. Do yourself a favor and read a copy.
- Tactics on Trout, by Ray Ovington, Alfred A. Knopf, 1969.
The first trout fishing book I ever read. Excellent description of various kind of water. From the cover: "This uniquely concrete book teaches the angler how to 'read' trout water and, with the help of numerous precise procedural drawings, exactly how to wade, cast, and fish out each of 33 different, but typical, kinds of trout pools." A mouthful to be sure!
- The Practical Fly Fisherman, by A. J. McClane, Prentice-Hall, 1975.
Helpful in many respects.
- The Ways of Trout: An Intimate Look into the Hidden World of the Stream, Shedding New Light on When Trout Feed and Why, by Leonard M. Wright, Jr., Lyons Press, 1985.
A work that looks beyond the obvious. Interesting reading.
- Through the Fish's Eye: An Angler's Guide to Gamefish Behavior, by Mark Sosin and John Clark, Harper and Row, 1973.
Helpful in learning to think like a fish.
- Trout, by Ray Bergman, Alfred A. Knopf, 1943.
A true classic by a meticulous fly-fisher, but one who never lost perspective on the grander, larger themes. Important chapters on wet flies. McClane called Bergman the Dr. Spock of a whole generation of fly fishers who cut their teeth on his book.
- Wet Flies: Tying and Fishing Soft-Hackles, Winged and Wingless Wets, and Fuzzy Nymphs, by Dave Hughes, Stackpole Books, 1995.
An important book on an important subject.
- What Fish See: Understanding Optics and Color Shifts for Designing Lures and Flies, by Colin J. Kageyama, Frank Amato, 1999.
An optometrist's perspective on how fish see and the implications for angling.
- Creative Fly Tying and Fly Fishing, by Rex Gerlach, Winchester Press, 1974.
A good introduction to both fly fishing and fly tying. Describes techniques for several game species and also contains a good listing of fly patterns.
- Dressing Flies for Fresh and Salt Water, by Poul Jorgensen, Freshet Press, 1973.
A basic manual. Includes helpful instruction on balsa popper construction. Any of Jorgensen's books contain useful material which is presented in a fresh way.
- Fish Flies by Terry Hellekson, 2 vols., Frank Amato Publications, 1995.
A very useful fly pattern book with interesting anecdotes and history of fly patterns by a tier who has spent a lifetime in the fly fishing retail and wholesale industry. Excellent fly plates by Jim Schollmeyer.
- Flies: Their Origin, Natural History, Tying, Hooks, Patterns and Selections of Dry and Wet Flies, Nymphs, Streamers, Salmon Flies for Fresh and Salt Water in North America and the British Isles, Including a Dictionary of 2200 Patterns, by J. Edson Leonard, Nick Lyons Books, 1988.
Subtitle about says it all. An important work for those interested in an introduction to the older, well-established methods of fly dressing and history of fly patterns on either side of the ocean. Revised from the 1950 edition.
- Fly-Tying Materials: Their Procurement, Use, and Protection, by Eric Leiser, revised edition, Nick Lyons Press, 1973.
Although dated, this is a complete guide to preserving raw materials, bleaching and dyeing, uncommon uses, and uses of synthetics in fly tying. A. K. Best's Dyeing and Bleaching Natural Fly-Tying Materials is more up to date, but Leiser's still has value.
- Nymphs, by Schwiebert, See above under Entomology
- Oliver Edwards' Fly Tying Masterclass, by Oliver Edwards, Stoeger Publishing, 1995.
"Practical" perfectionism is how I like to describe this British master's fly tying imitative technique. Heavily illustrated guide to tying 20 important patterns including the Klinkhammer special and his awesome freshwater shrimp (scud) pattern.
- Production Fly Tying: A Collection of Ideas, Notions, Hints, & Variations on the Techniques of Fly Tying, By A. K. Best, Pruett, 1989.
Secrets of one of the country's best production fly tiers. It helped me.
- The Book of Fly Patterns, by Eric Leiser, Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
The best and handiest complete fly pattern/technique book out there.
- The Complete Book of Fly Tying, by Eric Leiser, Alfred A. Knopf, 1977.
One of the best beginner manuals.
- The Fly Tier's Benchside Reference to Techniques and Dressing Styles, by Ted Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer, Frank Amato Publications, 1998.
A primary reference book on fly tying techniques. If you need to know how to tie any aspect of a fly pattern, it is probably found here. Keep it near your fly tying bench. Expensive, but without a doubt the best book on the subject.
- The Orvis Fly Pattern Index, by John Harder, Plume, 1990.
A handy fly pattern book. Useful technique descriptions.
- The Second Fly-Tyer's Almanac, edited by Robert H. Boyle and Dave Whitlock, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1978.
A curious collection of innovative fly patterns, techniques and material suggestions by a host of well-knowns. Now out-of-print for some time and a collector's item, my copy is personalized by Dave.
- Trout Flies: The Tier's Reference, by Dave Hughes, Stackpole Books, 1999.
An exquisitely done trout fly tying pattern and technique book.
- Tying and Fishing the West's Best Dry Flies, by Bob Wilson and Richard Parks, Frank Amato, 1978.
Excellent patterns to tie. Includes the Humpy.
- The Colonial Angler's Manual of Flyfishing & Flytying, by Ken Reinard, Fox Books, 1995.
A glimpse into colonial fly fishing times. Great info and read.
- Fishes: An Introduction to Ichthyology, by Peter B. Moyle and Joseph J. Cech, Jr., fourth edition, Prentice Hall, 2000.
A formal zoology textbook on fishes. Includes a final chapter on conservation including some interesting comments on exploitation and non-native species.
- Fishes of Arkansas, by Henry B. Robison and Thomas M. Buchanan, The University of Arkansas Press, 1988.
The definitive work on Arkansas fishes. Includes the bait fishes which is of importance for fly tiers.
- Practical Fishing Knots, by Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh, Lyons and Burford, 1991.
- Arkansas Wildlife: A History, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, edited by Keith Sutton, University of Arkansas Press, 1998
No one can understand the modern battles conservationists fight in Arkansas without understanding the state's history. This book is a look into Arkansas' wildlife history. It's a rather sad tale, but anyone that wants to fight today's battles needs to understand yesterday's many defeats and scant victories. Commercial meat markets, the influx of hunters and fishermen from other states, the local decimation of abundant species of game and game fish, and the struggle to make and enforce state game and fish laws are all part of this important story.
- Fishing Yellowstone Waters, by Charles E. Brooks, Lyons and Burford, 1984
What fishing Yellowstone Park used to be like. Beautiful black and white photographs.
- Fly Fishing for Trout in Missouri, by Chuck and Sharon Tryon, second edition, Ozark Mountain Fly Fishers, 1992.
A great introduction to Missouri waters.
- Ozark Trout Tales, by Steve Wright, White River Chronicle, 1995.
The definitive work so far on fishing the White River System. Out-of-print. Steve promises a revised edition in the future.
- Seasons on the Bighorn: An Angler's Year, by George Kelly, photographs by Cathy and Barry Beck, Willow Creek Press, 1997.
A beautiful coffee-table style book on one of America's great rivers.
- The Underwater World of Trout, by Wendell "Ozzie" Ozefovich, Underwater Oz Productions, 2007.
planned. Three were out by the end of 2012. Two were available through Netflix.
A wonderful presentation that will heighten your understanding and appreciation for how trout make a living in a stream.