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Five Favorite Fly-Tying Books

by John Evans
(San Antonio, TX)

Five of My Favorite Fly-Tying Books

Five of My Favorite Fly-Tying Books

If you fly fish for very long, you start collecting fly tying books. And then you start wondering where you’re going to store all those books. Pretty soon you realize you have some favorites—those treasured titles you refer to time and again.

I thought I’d share five of my favorites with the readers of this blog in hopes that you will name yours. These are not necessarily tenkara volumes, though several of them feature reverse-hackle tenkara flies. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Practical Fly Tying by T. R. Henn (Bowering Press, 1952). This vintage title is not easy to find, but I treasure it because it includes information about how to tie in hand, without a vise. It’s a nice skill to learn and will help you appreciate the old masters.

2. Wet Flies by Dave Hughes (Second Edition, Stackpole Books, 2015). Dave Hughes is an excellent writer, and he does a wonderful job of exploring soft hackles, flymphs, and so forth. The photos are superb.

3. The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies by Ian Whitelaw (Abrams, 2015). You have to get this book if you enjoy fly fishing at all! What a great, interesting read, with beautiful watercolor illustrations of the flies by Julie Spyropoulos.

4. Simple Flies by Morgan Lyle (Stackpole Books, 2015). Hey, it even has Chris Stewart in it. Well-written, beautifully-illustrated, just a great read. Really an essential title in a fly-fishing library.

5. A Kid’s Guide to Fly Tying by Tyler Befus (Johnson Books, 2009). Written by a youngster for youngsters, this is the book I’d recommend for those just getting into fly tying. It assumes you’re just starting out, with little or no prior knowledge. I think Tyler did a fine job on this book.

My favorite fly-tying titles change over time, but right now these are high on my list. Perhaps you can share some information about your treasured volumes. Curling up with a good book and then practicing at the fly-tying bench is a wonderful way to pass a cold winter’s day.

Comments for Five Favorite Fly-Tying Books

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Jan 23, 2018
Only Five!
by: Les Albjerg

I really like all 5 of John's titles. I am leaving out several of Dave Hughes' books, Gary Lafontaine, and Randall Kaufmann. So here are my five.

1. If I could only have one book on Fly-Tying, it would be "The Complete Book of Western Hatches" by Rick Hafel and Dave Hughes. Frank Amato Publications, 1981. This is a book that teaches you how to read the bugs on the river as well as tying flies that will imitate them. It is fairly exhaustive, and of course is West Coast biased. That said, this is a tremendous book on down to earth entomology and fly patterns as well as a field guide.

2. "Jack Dennis' Western Trout Fly Tying Manuel" Volumes one and two. Snake River Books, 1974. These are "formula" books. They take you step by step through the tying process. I learned to go beyond the wooly worm on these volumes. A Royal Humpy that I tied from this book was taken by the most beautiful rainbow trout I have ever caught. A great book to teach technique.

3. "Flies for Bass and Panfish" by Dick Stewart & Farrow Allen, Mountain Pond Publishing, 1992 Trout fishing isn't the only fun out there. This is a great book with patterns for the warm water species. It assumes a foundation in fly tying.

4. "Tying Glass Bead Flies" by Joe J. Warren, Frank Amato Publications, 1997. Joe is a personal friend of mine. We used to put on a fly fishing and fly-tying camp near the Deschutes river in Oregon. He took me to several of his smallmouth bass spots on the Columbia river, and we had a blast. This is a little out of the box. If you need to go deep, glass bead flies work well.

Agony! The last one.

5. "Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing" by Joseph D. Bates, Jr. Stackpole Books 1995. You want to get the edition updated by his daughter. This is a classic! This is an interesting book on the development of streamers in Maine and other places. My mentor, Clive Stevenson has one of his flies in this book on page 344. This book teaches a lot! Not only does it give great instruction on tying streamers, but advice on how to fish them. It is a look back into our history as well. All I will say is times have changed. This is worth the read, and I have tied and fished several of the streamers in this book.

Jan 23, 2018
Once you get started . . .
by: John Evans

You know how it is, Les--Once you get started, there's no end to it! If you asked my wife what my favorite fly-tying book is, she'd say, "Whichever one he happens to be reading right now!" I also enjoy "Tying Small Flies," by Ed Engle (Stackpole Books, 2004).

Jan 23, 2018
More books
by: Vern Berry - Dallas, TX

As well of the previous books, I also like the following.
1.Fly Tying for Beginners - Peter Gathercole - 2005
2. Flies,Ties, & Techniques - Charles Jardine - 2008
3. My favorite: Nymphs for Streams & Stillwaters - Dave Hughes - 2009

Jan 23, 2018
John that is six!
by: Les Albjerg

I knew someone couldn't stop at five. I guess it is your thread. I have been reading a couple of books on Carp Flies. I caught one carp on a fly last year. I caught many on bait. I would like to do more sight fishing to carp with a fly this year. There was something special about putting that fly 2 inches in front of the carp's nose and having him slurp it in! I was using a size 6 Keeper Kebari.

Jan 24, 2018
A Book and Aha! Moment
by: Herb S.

The book I learned to tie flies from is "The Complete Book of Fly Tying" by Eric Leiser printed in 1977. It was fairly new on the market when I bought it,and before I started keeping a fishing log, so now I know about when I started fly tying.

This book is superb! The directions are clear and the illustrations are outstanding. I read, re-read and studied it like a science. It was reprinted in 2008 so it's still available. I have many of the excellent fly tying books mentioned by other bloggers but have a special fondness for Leiser's book even though I haven't looked at it for years.

Happy tying,

Jan 24, 2018
by: Martin

I really enjoy the books Tom Rosenbauer from ORVIS authors about fishing. They are informational and entertaining at the same time. Pat Dorsey and Ed Engle are also great books for stream/river fishing.

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