Individual taste in books varies as much as the favorite rod or fly. With that in mind, we hope to review books and videos from the ever-growing fly fishing world, and share them with you. Books will be the best of all worlds, new and old. Many of the old books are now available in reprint, and the wisdom contained is timely today. Others can be found in second-hand book stores, or by mail order dealers. As we find videos we feel are outstanding they will be included. Be assured, reviews are based on what we have actually read or viewed, and due to that fact, may not appear weekly.


Reviewed By Tom Travis - Oct 16, 2017

The Essential G.E.M. Skues
By: Kenneth Robson

Published in 1998 by the Lyons Press,
ISBN: 1-55821-691-X,
Library of Congress Number: 98-4280, 260 Pages. This volume can be found at a variety Fly Fishing Book Dealers, Amazon has this book priced from $22.00 to $50.00.

G.E.M Skues was born on August 13th, 1858 and pasted away on August 9th, 1949 just four days shy of his ninety first birthday. Skues is acknowledged as the “Father of Nymph Fishing”, however Skues was much more than that and his writings have influenced many of the 20th Centuries finest angling authors on both sides of the Atlantic.

Skues fished for 38 seasons on the Itchen Chalk Stream in Southern England, and during this time period he wrote a number of books and a vast array of articles which Kenneth Robson has distilled into the Essential G.E.M. Skues, his choices of what to include and what to leave out was masterful and he truly captured the majors points of Skues and his contributions to the art and science of fly fishing.

If you have never read the works of Skues this work will open your eyes and thoroughly explains the development of the nymph. If you are familiar with the writings of Skues, this volume will give you new insight into Skues the angler along with notes on many of the well known fly anglers that he fished with on the Chalk Stream.

This volume also points out and emphasizes Skues meticulous research and self education through reading all of the books available at the time and how his knowledge covered as aspects of fly fishing for trout on the chalk streams. This volume also points out and covers his (Skues) continual experimentation on the water, testing and retesting theories and fly patterns that he had designed.

Furthermore, it covers the importance of observation and how Skues used his on the stream observations to base his theories and how he advised anglers to be wary of fishing doctrine put forth by the experts and to conduct their own observations and experiments.

Today, we accept nymphing as a viable method of fly fishing for trout by during the lifetime of Skues this was not the case. During Skues fishing career the Dry Fly reigned supreme on the Chalk Stream and Skues had to deal with much controversy during his life.

John Goddard remarked that debates on the nymph and the dry fly continued on to the early 1960’s in certain areas on the Chalk Streams.

Skues began his fly fishing career as a follower of Frederic M. Halford and it was through his personal observation that he was finding that what he was seeing on the water didn’t always agree with the doctrine laid down by Mr. Halford.

This book is a pleasant and informative read and I strongly recommend it to any fly angler and especially anyone who has an interest in fly fishing history. I will remind you that Skues tactics and methods still work today on Spring Creeks and Tailwaters all over the world.

Down through the years many have focused on Skues work with the nymphs, in Hollywood this would be called type casting, however Skues also may contributions to the art of dry fly fishing and most notably to the art of fishing the wet fly, which most have missed or ignored. Pick up copy of this volume and you won’t be disappointed!

Enjoy & Good Fishin’

Tom Travis, Montana Fly Fishing Outfitter/Guide and student of the sport.

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