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
Two Steelhead Tying Books
Steelhead Fly Tying Guide
By H. Kent Helvie
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Frank Amato Publications, (September 1994)
Flies for Steelhead (Fishing Flies of North America)
By Dick Stewart, Farrow Allen
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: The Lyons Press, (March 1992)
Recently someone in the FAOL Chat Room asked me to
recommend a book on tying flies for steelhead. These
two, plus John Shewey's Spey Flies & Dee Flies
(which I reviewed earlier this year), were my recommendations.
Kent Helvie's Steelhead Fly Tying Guide is
part instruction and part pattern book. Kent reviews the
history of fly fishing for Pacific steelhead, starting on
the Eel River in California in the 1890s, through Zane Grey's
time on Oregon's Rogue and North Umpqua in the 1920s, the
popularization of spey flies for steelhead by Syd Glasso
and Dick Wentworth, and General Noel Money and Roderick
Haig Brown in British Columbia.
Early chapters cover style, materials, and hooks, before
Helvie delves into instruction and patterns. The latter
part of the book divides into chapters on wet flies, spey
flies, imitators, and dry flies. Each of these chapters
starts with detailed tying instructions for several
patterns of each type. The section on wet flies demonstrates
tying the Black Prince and Cummings Special, both hair wing
flies, followed by a strip wing fly, the Summer Twilight II.
The rest of each chapter comprises pattern recipes and
beautiful color plates illustrating the patterns. Mark
Kirchner's photographs are beautiful, clear, and of a
usable size. My only complaint is that the pattern recipes
are not adjacent to the color plates, requiring the reader
to flip back and forth to view both.
If you are looking for a single book to introduce you to
tying flies for steelhead, this would be an excellent
place to start.
Dick Stewart and Farrow Allen produced the wonderful series
Fishing Flies of North America in the early
to mid 1990s. That series includes Flies for Trout
(reviewed here in an earlier column), Flies for Bass
& Panfish, Flies for Saltwater,
Flies for Atlantic Salmon, and the other
book reviewed this week, Flies for Steelhead.
Like the others in this series, this is a straightforward,
comprehensive pattern book. Patterns are divided into
chapters by type: surface flies, nymphs, wet flies,
egg flies, and shrimp flies. Patterns are presented
four per page, with recipes, Dick Stewart's excellent
photographs, and notes detailing points of interest
about the fly. Credit is given to the tier in captions
on the photos; a side benefit of this book is that you
can view flies tied by Harry Lemire, Bill Bakke, Joe
Howell, Walt Johnson, Bill McMillan, Syd Glasso, Steve
Gobin, and other notable steelhead tiers and fishers.
This is a good addition to your library to provide a single
reference for about 300 steelhead patterns. ~ Stu Farnham
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.