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

Chalkstream Chronicle

Reviewed By Deanna Travis - August 10, 2009

Living in a new home, my husband Trav’s home in Livingston Montana has added a few hundred new books to my personal library access.

A few evenings ago Trav brought me Neil Patterson’s first book, Chalkstream Chronicle – Living out the Flyfisher’s Fantasy. This is not a new book, first published in the USA by then Lyons & Burford (now Global Pequot) it was originally published in the UK by Merlin Unwin Books in 1995. Trav knows I have an interest in British flies, and in fact we have had flies here on FAOL from tiers in England and Scotland. 

I found the book absolutely delightful. The story in a nutshell: An avid fly fisher has a dream of living on his favorite chalk stream and being able to fish it at will. It takes the author, Neil Patterson a couple of years of renting a small apartment in the top of the Manor House to put his plan together. He convinces the owner to sell him the end of the former stable to be converted into his dream home.

Once completed, he begins chronicling his angling records. The idea was that living right there on the stream he would be able to not just be able to fish, but to really analyze the life of the stream and how everyday life affected what goes on with the stream and the response of the trout and grayling living there.

The book is presented in chapters for every month of the year. Just a few of the chapter titles, The Dry Fly Re-Invented, Sell the Sizzle, Not the Sausage, The Trout Out of Hell, and the final chapter, The River’s Way of Telling You.

His observations, like other great anglers whose observations led them to create flies outside the box, allow him to develop a host of highly original fly patterns – like the Funneldun, Caddox and Deerstalker which are now known internationally. The instructions for the flies are given in detail, along with more than 300 line drawings by the author throughout the book. The Funneldun is a similar concept to the <a href=”/flytying/fotw2/080706fotw.php”>Reversed Spider </a> tied by Preston Singletary for us back in August of 2006. Take a good look at the flies in the photo below; you will note a difference in how the hackle is applied. His ‘Suspender’ fly does resemble the ‘Booby Flies’ popular for a time in the UK, tied with a round piece of foam and hackled in such a manner as to hang down, suspended as it were.

The inside book cover has a detailed map of The Hollow, the place where he lives and fishes; a neat way for the reader to connect with the writer on his various adventures. I have to note, the author never quite gives out the name or exact location of his wonderful stream.

It’s a long winter, this one, considered a memoir, will help fill some of your fishless days with interest and humor; you might even find a few new flies to tie.

Chalkstream Chronicle
By Neil Patterson
300 pages, 7 1/4 x 10, hardcover
300 black and white illustrations by the author
ISBN: 1-55821-425-9
Published by: Lyons & Burford


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