Stu Farnham

October 7th, 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


Shrimp & Spey Flies for Salmon and Steelhead

Shrimp & Spey Flies for Salmon and Steelhead

By Chris Mann, Robert Gillespie
Hardcover (221 pages)
Publisher: Stackpole Books; (January 1, 2002)
ISBN: 0811714284

This is the time of year when summer steelhead are present in numbers in the Columbia and Snake River watersheds here in the Pacific Northwest, and the fly fisherman's attention shifts to anadromous fish. This week's review is of a book, new this year, discussing shrimp and spey fly patterns for salmon and steelhead.

The book is both a delight and a disappointment. I'll get the disappointment part out of the way, and then move on to the more positive points. Co-author Chris Mann is a graphic designer specializing in computer graphics, and, as the dust jacket notes points out, "It is this expertise that has equipped him to develop the extraordinarily clear computer graphics of fishing flies that grace this book." I find the graphics maddening, as they have taken all the life and grace out of a beautiful craft. Compare these static representations to be beautiful photographs in John Shewey's book on Spey flies, and you'll see what I mean.

With that out of the way, there is much in this book of value to the tiers of steelhead or salmon flies. The authors have done a broad survey of flies from both Europe and North America, with over 450 patterns included in the catalogue of fly dressings comprising the second half of the book. The illustrations, while flat and lifeless, do provide a reasonable over-all impression of the look and construction of the fly.

The patterns are drawn from the work of some of the world's best tiers, with such noted European tiers as Peter O'Reilly, Martin Jorgensen, Davy Wotton, and Malcolm Greenhalgh. North America is represented by an impressive list including Bob Veverka, Steve Gobin, and Welches, Oregon's own Troy Bachmann and Brian Silvey.

The first part of the book deals first with the history and development old shrimp, Spey, and Dee patterns, citing both the usual sources (Kelson and Pryce-Tannet) as well as some lesser known ones.

There follow generous chapters describing the current state of tying craft on both sides of the Atlantic. These sections provide an interesting and useful mix of tying information, fishing and presentation techniques, and additional history. The reader will also become familiar with the styles and patterns of the noted and noteworthy contemporary tiers whose works are represented.

Lest anyone conclude from my comments about the book's graphics that it is not worth its price, that's not the case at all. It's a wonderful read, and has a useful pattern dictionary, just don't look at the pictures. ~ 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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