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, and due to that fact, may not appear weekly.

December 6th, 2004

Building Classic Salmon Flies
By Ron Alcott
Published by Frank Amato Publications

Reviewed by Ron Eagle Elk

All right, I admit it! I'm a Classic Atlantic Salmon Fly tier wanna-be. I have admired those beautiful flies since I started fly fishing about forty years ago. I have read every book about their construction, patterns and tying techniques I can lay my hands on. I even have books with nothing but pictures of the Classics and more modern feather wing flies in them. Every photo, crisp and sharp, well lighted and a thing of beauty.

I have never successfully tied one of the classics. Not that I haven't tried, because I have. There was just always something missing, or not quite right about the fly. I followed the instructions. I read the recipe correctly. That fly should have looked right, but it didn't.

When I was offered a copy of Ron Alcott's new book Building Classic Salmon Flies, I thought it would make a nice addition to the collection and maybe look good on the coffee table. It does make a great addition to the collection, but it doesn't look good on the coffee table. This is a working book. Everything about this book, from the binding that lets the book lay flat, to the heavy pages with large margins for notes, screams that it belongs on the tying bench, not on a shelf or coffee table. This book demands to be used by a fly tier.

If you, like myself, have perused other books on tying Classic Atlantics, be prepared. In Alcott's book you will find techniques that are not explained elsewhere. As I read through the book and followed the brilliant color plates, the same thought kept popping into my head over and over, "So that's how they do that!" His discussions of materials and appropriate substitutes is clear and concise. The section on color of materials is great, especially if you have looked at the color plates of the flies tied by the old masters and tried to duplicate those colors today. The continual explanations of terminology and how it has changed over the years and from author to author, often causing confusion among new tiers, cleared away several obstacles to my tying. One of the reasons my attempts at tying these feather wing flies failed was my lack of understanding about the proper proportions of the fly. With Alcott's clear explanations and thoughtful diagrams that is no longer a problem.

Author Ron Alcott The book is written for every level of tier, beginner, intermediate and expert. That's right, I said beginner. Alcott never claims that all you need is some tools and his book to tie the Classics, but "with some basic practice and a modicum of self-confidence, any tyer should be able to follow the steps in the text and photos. Each of us has to start somewhere, and the world still awaits that perfectly built fly."

If the thought of building a Classic Atlantic Salmon Fly has ever crossed your mind, but you have been intimidated by the many steps and procedures each fly takes, I heartily suggest Ron Alcott's book. Even if you never actually attempt one of the classics, the techniques he discusses and illustrates so well transfer easily to our tying of trout, bass and steelhead flies.

I hope you all will excuse me now. See, I have these 4/0 hooks that I haven't where did I put those dyed goose shoulders and primrose tying thread? ~ REE

Building Classic Salmon Flies
Ron Alcott
190 pages
Softbound Spiral (ISBN: 1-57188-339-8) $29.95
Full color, 10 x 7.5
Published by Frank Amato Books

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