Stu Farnham

May 27th, 2002

A Fly Fisher's Library
By Stu Farnham

The Internet is a powerful resource. It provides us instant access to information, and brings us together via email, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and instant messaging. FAOL is a wonderful example of the Internet at its best. The Internet, however, will never replace the printed page.

I've loved books and fishing since my youngest years, although I did not start fly fishing until 1993. This column will give me an opportunity to share reviews of some of my favorite fly fishing and tying books (and some that are not such favorites) with my friends here at FAOL. My library reflects my tastes and interests, and so will this column. It will be heavily slanted towards cold water fishing and tying for trout and steelhead, and won't touch much on areas of which I know little, such as warm or salt water fishing.

I hope that these reviews will motivate some of you to pick up a good book, on this or any subject, and read. ~ Stu Farnham

Tying and Fishing the Fuzzy Nymph

Tying and Fishing the Fuzzy Nymph
E.H. 'Polly' Rosborough
Hardcover, 192 pages
4th Edition (January 1989)
Stackpole Books
ISBN: 0811718182

This is the last in the series of four reviews that started with Dave Hughes' Wet Flies and went on to discuss the works Dave cites as influences: Syl Neme's books on soft hackles, Jim Leisenring's and Pete Hidy's The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph, and now Polly Rosborough's book describing the fuzzy nymphs for which he is famed.

Polly's name is always spoken with a certain reverence here in Oregon. Born in California, he lived in Chiloquin along the Williamson River in Southern Oregon. The Williamson and the nearby Wood are low-gradient, spring fed streams, and they influenced Polly's style of tying as much as the limestone waters of the Letort influenced Vince Marinaro or the brawling waters of the Yellowstone area guided the fly patterns of Charlie Brooks. Polly's patterns are long, graceful, and always tied un-weighted. His dubbing noodle method of constructing bodies gives a distinct segmentation.

Rosborough learned to tie at a time before the proliferation of fly shops and the widespread availability of commercial tying materials. As a result, Polly includes instructions for preparing and dyeing dubbing and hackle, and his fly recipes specify the materials he prepared for himself. Detailed instructions for tying the Muskrat Nymph provide a good introduction to the methods used in tying Polly's other patterns.

Polly The bulk of the book contains recipes for eighteen of Rosborough's twenty-five fuzzy nymphs. Polly's patterns were developed to imitate the local hatches of southern Oregon. Some of those hatches, such as the giant salmonfly, occur in many places throughout the West. Others, such as Hexegenia Limbata, are more localized, occurring in pockets throughout the country (the other locale of which I am aware that features Hex hatches is the upper Midwest, where these large yellow mayflies are known as 'Michigan caddis'). Still others, such as his Muskrat Nymph, are attractor patterns of proven effectiveness in many waters.

The recipes are organized into chapters around the order of insect (or class of prey) being imitated. There are chapters on mayflies, damselflies, caddis, stoneflies, shrimp & scuds, and 'food flies' - Rosborough's name for attractor patterns. The sections describing each pattern describe some of the history of the patterns, the occurrence and behavior of the insect being imitated, and provide detailed tying instructions. The single drawback of this book is the lack of illustrations. The chapters are accompanied by a few ink drawings or black and white photographs. Two color plates show forty-five of Polly's flies (the 25 fuzzy nymphs plus some dry flies), but without much detail.

The final chapter of the book talks about tackle, and then goes on to discuss Polly's methods for fishing his fuzzy nymphs. Discussions of presentation are often solely in the context of fishing the dry fly. Nymphing presentation is limited to dead drift techniques. Rosborough talks about his favorite active presentations for the nymphs he preferred to fish.

Next week: a change of pace: Tom McGuane's The Longest Silence: a Life in Fishing. ~ Stu Farnham

About Stu

Stu tying Stu Farnham is a New Englander by birth, who was transplanted to and put down roots in Oregon in the early 1990s. A software engineering manager by vocation, he can be found in his spare time chasing trout and steelhead in the rivers of the Pacific Northwest, chasing his four Gordon Setters (who in turn are chasing chukar), tying flies, reading, or working on his website. Colleen, his long suffering wife of 28 years, is a professionally trained personal chef.

Previous Stu Farnham Book Columns
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