Stu Farnham

February 17th, 2003

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


Trout Country Flies

Cover Trout Country Flies
by Bruce Staples
Spiral-bound or soft cover: 167 pages
Publisher: Frank Amato Publications, Inc.; (January 1, 2003)
ISBN: 1571882480

Ho-hum, you're probably thinking, another trout fly pattern book.

Well, yes, but. . .

I thoroughly enjoyed Bruce Staples' Trout Country Flies from Greater Yellowstone Area Masters. Sure, the format has become pretty much standard over the last few years: over 500 fly pattern recipes beneath Jim Schollmeyer's photographs, several to a page. Certainly, a lot of these flies are equally familiar: serendipities and sofa pillows, sparkle duns and sparkle pupae.

There are many things that make this more than a pattern book. To begin with, the patterns Staples has chosen range in time from the 1920s wet fly aptly named the Yellowstone to contemporary flies such as Phil Blomquist's Pink Sparkle Emerger, developed in the 1990s. For another, he draws on the creativity of the legendary fly tier's from the intersection of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming: Jack Dennis, Bud Lilly, Bob Jacklin, Craig Matthews, Gary LaFontaine, Rene Harrop, and others.

Author Bruce Staples A sense of history pervades the book, which opens with a reproduction of a fishing guide to the West Yellowstone/Island Park area printed by Don Martinez in the early 1940s. The introduction takes us through the history of fly fishing in the area, starting with the period of early (non-native) exploration in the latter half of the 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, wealthy families from the East established sporting retreats in the Island Park area. The contributions of George Grant (best known for his woven-body nymphs), the Wombacher family, Don Martinez, Dan Bailey, and others are noted.

In the chapter on caddis adults we find Mike Lawson's spent partridge caddis and Bob Jacklin's Fluttering Gray Caddis. Caddis pupas include Syl Nemes' Mothers Day Caddis, a favorite of mine for the Brachycentrus hatches occurring throughout the West form March through May. There's a chapter of crane fly patterns, and one of damsel- and dragonflies. Dry fly attractors include the familiar (Humpies and Goofus Bugs) and the outlandish (Chuck Echer's BLT Cutthroat, a takeoff on the Chernobyl ant patterned after a sandwich). Among the mayfly duns are Don Martinez's Golden Quail (see the cover illustration) and Bing Lempke's famous extended body, loop wing duns.

Other chapters cover mayfly nymphs and spinners, still-water and leech patterns, stonefly adults and nymphs, streamers, terrestrials, wet flies, and attractors. Numerous examples of the woven body flies most closely associated with George Grant and Franz Potts appear throughout.

Madison River

The annotations accompanying each pattern credit the originator (if known) and provide some of the history of the pattern.

The final chapter of the book presents short profiles of several legendary fly tiers from the Yellowstone area: Pat Barnes, Charlie Brooks, Bob Carmichael, Henry's Fork legend Bing Lempke, Don Martinez (whose influence, along with that of George Grant, is felt throughout the book), and Stan Yamamura.

My only complaint with the book is that it lacks an index. (Publisher's Note: This may be an anomaly with the spiral-bound book, we have the soft cover and it has both an index and fly index.) Others have mentioned to me problems with color reproduction in their copies; however, the colors in mine appear true. ~ 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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