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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Apr 1, 2009April 1st, 2009, 4:48 pm EDT

Hehehe - you old fox!
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Lagrangeville, NY

Posts: 119
Patcrisci on Apr 2, 2009April 2nd, 2009, 2:42 am EDT
Having been a flyfishing neophyte many years ago, I understand the frustration and bewilderment when faced with learning fly casting mechanics, on stream tactics, reading water, not to mention the staggering number and variety of flies to choose from.

Neophytes will do well to participate in forums like Troutnut, join a local Trout Unlimited Chapter, surf the Internet and read the fly fishing classics.

For the benefit of neophytes, which books (titles and authors) would you label as "must reads"?

The most influential and helpful books for me: Trout, Ray Bergman; The Caddis and the Angler, Eric Leiser & Larry Solomon; Matching the Hatch, Ernest Schweibert; Streamside Tying Guide, by Art Flick. These were among the first books I read and they helped me learn so much, so they remain as favorites still to this day. Yet there are dozens more and everyone has their own favorites. What are yours?

Pat Crisci
Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Apr 2, 2009April 2nd, 2009, 5:24 am EDT
I actually started with a borrowed copy of Ernest Schwiebert's two-volume Trout. It's a beautiful beast of a work, over a thousand pages if I recall correctly, and it takes a certain personality to dive in head-first using something like that... someone who really likes a long, classic book. I think the well-told stories he tied into everything really helped spark my addiction. Some of the best parts of that epic tome were condensed into his shorter and cheaper book, Trout Strategies.

The two books I recommend most to beginners, though, are Reading the Water and Prospecting for Trout by Tom Rosenbauer (available as The Orvis Guide to... right now, but I think published separately before) and No Hatch to Match by Rich Osthoff. After a person gets through those, the door is open to just about any book on our sport, and there's no clear next step because there are so many good ones on that next most advanced level.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Apr 2, 2009April 2nd, 2009, 6:05 am EDT
I actually started with a borrowed copy of Ernest Schwiebert's two-volume Trout. It's a beautiful beast of a work, over a thousand pages if I recall correctly

I have the set of which you speak in the slipcase, a behemoth to be sure. I have read it cover to cover twice, enjoying every minute of its one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four pages. An absolute wealth of information in all aspects of fly fishing and a history lesson starting at its very beginnings.
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Apr 2, 2009April 2nd, 2009, 7:08 am EDT
From a utility standpoint when I was trying to understand bugs better many years ago, I made a lot of use of Arbona's "Mayflies, The Trout and The Angler". When I was going places where paying much attention to the specifics of hatches actually mattered, it was a good resource for me.

On the other end of the spectrum, no fishing book I've owned did more damage to my development as an angler than George L. Herter's long, semi-lucid screed on fly tying, lure making and life. I bought it when I was 12, devoured it utterly and was well into my 20's before I fully recovered from all the misinformation it contained...
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Apr 2, 2009April 2nd, 2009, 8:12 am EDT
OK, now we're on a topic that I find much more interesting than discussing magazines that are filled with increasingly formulaic "Five Best Places..." or "Ten Best Flies..." articles. (Sorry, just a PPP--Personal Pet Peeve.) Here is a very incomplete list of a few of my American favorites:


A. J. McClane's The Practical Fly Fisherman. Perhaps my favorite fly-fishing book of all time. McClane was my hero when I was learning to fly fish (still is).

Dan Holland's The Trout Fisherman's Bible. A sentimental favorite, I cut my fly-fishing teeth on this excellent volume from the old Doubleday sportsmen's "Bible" series.

Swisher & Richard's Selective Trout. Wiggle nymphs, anyone? It was revolutionary in the way that it exposed anglers/tiers to "new" approaches to old problems.

Schwiebert's Nymphs. I love the original for it's insights, but even more for the chapters on the history of nymph fishing and the beautiful vignettes that introduce each chapter.

Fly Tying-

George Harvey's A Simplified Course in Fly Tying. Another sentimental favorite, Harvey's little pamphlet taught the basics to many thousands of "self-taught" novices (like me).

Poul Jorgenson's Modern Fly Dressings for the Practical Angler. Along with his earlier Dressing Flies for Fresh and Salt Water, Jorgenson's books helped me to move beyond the basics that I learned from Harvey's pamphlet.

Chauncy Lively's fly-tying articles in the old Pennsylvania Angler. OK, they were not books, but I just had to mention Lively. More than any other tier, he influenced the way I tie today. Talk about being ahead of your time, he was amazing and remains underappreciated.

Dry-Fly Fishing-

George LaBranche's The Dry Fly and Fast Water. Superb insights from one of the very best fly fishers of his day. The chapter on reading the stream stands alongside Rosenbauer's excellent Reading Trout Streams as some of the best words ever written on the subject.

Vince Marinaro's A Modern Dry-Fly Code. Marinaro's classic is the perfect counterpoint to LaBranche--one for freestone anglers and the other for limestoners. As a kid growing up in the Cumberland Valley, "The Code" was the book for dry-fly guys.

Wet-Fly Fishing-

Jim Leisenring's The Art of Tying the Wet Fly. Before WWII, "Big Jim" was the master wet-fly fisherman on my old homewaters, the Brodheads. The continuing interest in all those simple and deadly soft-hackles and "flymphs" owes much to him.

Angler's Entomologies-

Caucci and Nastasi's Hatches. What can I say? This book raised the bar for angler's entomologies and continues to compare favorably with most that have been published since.

Gary LaFontaine's Caddisflies. Again, what can I say? Gary was a true innovator, and his insights changed the way most anglers fish caddisflies today.

Thomas Ames' Hatch Guide for New England Streams. Including this (relatively new) book with the others is the highest praise. Despite its "New England" title, I think it is the best (and most accurate) overall guide to Eastern hatches.


Preston Jennings' A Book of Trout Flies. The roots of classics like Schwiebert's Matching the Hatch and Flick's Streamside Guide to Naturals and Their Imitations can be found in Jennings. Like Leisenring and Schwiebert, Jennings frequented the Brodheads, so I feel a particular connection to the information in this book.

Ralf Coykendall's The Golden Age of Fly-Fishing. Coykendall compiled this collection of articles from the old magazine The Sportsman (1927-1937). It's filled with the heady air of yesteryear, and, WOW, could those guys write!

I know that's a long list, but it's not nearly as long as the list of what I left out. I look forward to seeing other's "favs."

Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
LittleJ on Apr 2, 2009April 2nd, 2009, 11:33 am EDT
I have a few to add.

Nymphing- Gary Borger
Matching The Hatch- Schwiebert

Those are the first two fly fishing books I read

I also would like to add

Barr Flies- A ton of great patterns including some personal favorites like the slumpbuster, meat whistle, tung stone

Clouser flies- Proven smallie patterns

Fly Fishing Pressured Water - It was a good read and while I can't tie most of the patterns, Gonzo has some cool techniques and ideas I've implemented into other patterns.

I've also more recently read Mike Hecks, and Charlie Mecks spring creek books and enjoyed both of them as well.

Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Apr 4, 2009April 4th, 2009, 7:53 am EDT
Many thanks for the mention, Jeff. I'm honored (especially by that "good read" part). As I explained in the introduction, I found myself in the rather odd position of betting (hoping) that many of my flies would never become popular. That has turned out to be a safe bet, and I have no interest in seeing any of them reproduced commercially. I also hoped, however, that other tiers would find a few of the ideas interesting enough to incorporate into their own patterns. You are using the book exactly as I intended. Thank you, again.
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Apr 5, 2009April 5th, 2009, 1:49 am EDT
You're a genius, Lloyd, making a lucrative profit off flytying books without worry that people will actually tie the flies featured therein. And you didn't even have to resort to out-of-focus images and vague tying instructions. Pure genius.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Apr 5, 2009April 5th, 2009, 5:00 am EDT
If you think that was genius, Shawn, I'm considering writing another: working title, "Dap and Launch: Spey Rod Techniques for Headwater Brook Trout Streams."

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