Stu Farnham

July 1st, 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


The Pocket Gillie: Flyfishing Essentials

The Pocket Gillie: Flyfishing Essentials

by Scott Richmond
Paperback: 200 pages (November 1992)
Publisher: Four Rivers Press, Lake Oswego, OR
ISBN: 0963306707

Fly fishing author and webmaster Scott Richmond is well known in the Pacific Northwest, and pretty much unknown elsewhere. This is no surprise; his website (www.westfly.com) deals with fishing in the Western U.S., and his books include titles on Oregon's Rogue River, Crane Prairie reservoir, Cascade Lakes, and lower Deschutes River. (See the Great Rivers series here on FAOL.)

This pocket-sized book deserves to be better known. While the title might lead one to assume that this is another book of fly fishing how-to basics, it is instead an attempt to capture information useful to both novice and experienced fly fisher in a highly portable pocket format.

"In Scotland and Ireland. . ." Richmond says in his introduction, "A gillie is a fishing guide. He knows the water and its inhabitants intimately, and stands by the angler giving advice on where the best fish are, which fly to use, and how to present it. This book will serve as such a guide for you." The rest of the introduction is delightful Scott talks about how to use the book, the uses and abuses of generalizations, and pre trip preparation. There's a useful section of advice to beginners, as well as Richmond's 'Three Never-Fail Rules of Fly Fishing.' My favorite of these is the corollary to rule #3: "There is no correlation between the size of the fish and the stupidity of the angler's technique."

Chapter two, 'Finding the Trout,' reviews the basic needs of the trout and talks about holding and feeding lies in lakes and in rivers, where to fish, and how to spot fish.

In chapter three he introduces a key concept that I have not seen presented so succinctly anywhere else: points of vulnerability, or POV. These are those stages in an insect's life at which it is particularly vulnerable to predation by trout. Richmond uses the POV concept to guide fly selection and presentation in a set of charts that form the heart of the book. These charts are grouped by insect order; mayflies are further split into crawlers, swimmers, and clingers and by the type of water which they inhabit or in which they emerge.

Each chart lists the genus, species, and common name(s) of insects in each grouping. It includes fly types and presentation for the various POVs, size, geographic range (East, Midwest, West) and time of emergence for insects in the group. Following the POV charts are hook size charts detailing the shank lengths of popular hooks in various sizes, useful to fly tiers in selecting the hook to match a given insect. There's also a table that attempts to sort out the mess of common versus scientific names of aquatic insects.

Chapters are included on aquatic entomology, various presentation techniques, and reading rise forms. The section on identifying aquatic insects is accompanied by clear ink renderings of aquatic insects at various stages in the lifecycle, organized as an aid to identification.

This book has earned a permanent place in a zip lock bag in the back pocket of my fishing vest. No book of its size can completely cover the scope of material that Richmond surveys. However, as a quick reference, introduction, or refreshed, The Pocket Gillie is invaluable. ~ 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. 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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