Stu Farnham

September 23rd, 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


Reading Trout Streams

Reading Trout Streams: An Orvis Guide

By Tom Rosenbauer
Paperback and Hardcover: (160 pages)
Publisher: The Lyons Press;(1988)
ISBN: 1-55821-933-1

Tom Rosenbauer (like Dave Hughes) is one of those authors whose name on a fly fishing book immediately puts it on my 'buy' list. Rosenbauer is vice-president of marketing for Orvis in Manchester, VT, and author of a number of books published under Orvis' name. His Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing was my primer for the sport.

Reading Trout Streams has recently been reissued under the name The Orvis Guide to Reading Trout Streams. Since I have the original 1988 edition in my library, that's what I'll review here.

Most novice fly fishers focus on casting as the key skill, and then move on to fly selection. While casting is clearly fundamental, and fly selection important, I like to emphasize two other skills when working with novice and intermediate fly fishers. If you can't read the water, it is hit-or-miss as to whether you'd put your fly over fish. And, despite my love of fly tying, I'm firmly in the presentationist school.

This book is an exhaustive treatment of stream structure as it relates to fly fishing. In order to determine where trout hold, the fly fisher must understand what the trout needs in its habitat, and how it feeds. Rosenbauer's first chapter provides an overview of these topics. Chapter two discusses the fundamental components of stream hydrology, currents and rocks. He explains how underwater features manifest themselves on the surface, and describes cross-sectional variations in currents. All of these are related to preferred holding patterns for fish.

With these basics in place, the next chapter introduces the other variations in stream structure: logs, banks, curves, and other obstructions. Rosenbauer then assembles all of these component parts into a complete model of a trout stream, with the macro features in terms of which we tend to think and speak: pools, riffles, flats, and pocket water. The chapter on pools contrasts the head, middle, and tailout and talks about how to read and fish each section.

The chapter titled 'Big Rivers and Little Pools' takes issue with the conventional wisdom that you should "fish a gigantic river as you would a little stream, dividing it up in your mind before you start." The rest of the chapter goes into depth on how Rosenbauer approaches these two very different kinds of fishing.

Moving water changes in all four dimensions, and there is a chapter that deals with daily and seasonal variations. Tom closes the book with two important but often overlooked subjects: approach and etiquette.

The book is illustrated with informative line drawings and clear black and white photographs. ~ 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.

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