Stu Farnham

December 2nd, 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


Complete Book of Western Hatches:

Complete Book of Western Hatches:
An Angler's Entomology and Fly Pattern Field Guide

By Rick Hafele, Dave Hughes
Paperback: 223 pages
Publisher: Frank Amato Publications
ISBN: 0936608129; (May 1981)

Western Oregon is home to a disproportionately large number of noted American fly fishing writers. John Shewey, Jim Shollmeyer, Ted Leeson, Randall Kaufmann, and Skip Morris are all Oregonians. Walk into your favorite fly shop in the Portland area and you may run into one of the authors of this book, Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes. Hafele is an aquatic entomologist and writes a column on that topic for American Angler magazine; Hughes has written dozens of books, hundreds of articles, and is the editor of Fly Fishing & Tying Journal.

Dave Hughes This book is a basic reference for the hatch-matcher in the Western US. It covers the 'big four' orders of interest to the fly fisher (ephemeroptera, plecoptera, trichoptera, and diptera, a.k.a. mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, and true flies), and includes chapters on the less-well-known orders as well - dragon and damselflies, waterboatmen and backswimmers, alderflies and dobsonflies, and water beetles (odonata, hemiptera, megaloptera, and coleopteran). True to its title, there's no information on non-insect aquatic food sources (scuds, sculpins, etc), or non-aquatic insects (terrestrials).

Introductory chapters provide the basics: information on lifecycles, basic insect anatomy, and the distinguishing characteristics of the various orders, as well as a getting-started guide to collecting and preserving aquatic bugs.

Rick Hafele

There's a chapter devoted to each order which starts by describing the basic characteristics of the order. There follow sections on the major hatches of that order occurring in the Western US. The sections include scientific and common names, and approximate times of emergence for the Pacific coastal and Rocky Mountain areas. (Warning: the scientific names, while less ambiguous than the common; taxonomists often change their minds as new data emerges, and reclassify species. This book was published in 1981, so it is likely that some of the Latinate monikers have changed since publication.) Major field characteristic of the species are listed.

Information on habitat will help you identify water likely to contain each species; the paragraphs describing their habits will help with your presentation. For the fly tier there are descriptions of the key characteristics to imitate in your flies, plus tying instructions for several patterns.

Back Cover

There are several excellent books on aquatic entomology, and more on matching-the hatch; I have several feet of shelf space full of them. The entomology books tend to be somewhat heavy going for the casual student of the bugs that interest trout; many of the classic hatch-matching books published in the US emphasize Eastern rather than Western Hatches. This book can provide most of the information a Western fly tier needs to imitate and fish the hatches of that part of the US.

My only complaint about the book is due to its age. Published in 1981, the photographs of insects and flies are black-and-white (except for a few pages of color plates). Rick and Dave started work on a revised version of the book several years ago. The last time I ran into Rick in Mark Bachmann's fly shop, he said that the project had gotten away from them and morphed into a 300+ page book on Western mayflies. The new work should be published in 2003. ~ 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, now residing in the Seattle area. 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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