Snow and sleet are often signs that it’s time to get down at the vise and prepare boxes for the next trout season while eagerly awaiting opening day and the trout it brings.
Personally, I will occasionally return to waters where winter fishing is legal, but I also utilize the winter months to tie, reline my arsenal of rods, reflect on the previous season, and prepare for the next spring.
During the winter months, I like nothing more than delving into some books on my favorite activity. I have compiled a list of books that I believe you would also appreciate, along with a brief summary.
In the piece that follows, we will examine
- The best fly fishing nonfiction books
- Our favorite fly fishing novels
- Instructional/educational books
- Books about fly fishing photography
Let’s plunge in!
Fly Fishing Nonfiction Books
People have been captivated by fly fishing for decades, and this love has spawned several writers and artists. These books are a compilation of amusing tales, insightful insights, and humorous anecdotes, each presented in its own distinctive manner.
1. The History Of Fly Fishing In Fifty Flies
The book by Ian Whitelaw is a must-read for everyone interested not only in classic flies but also in the history of fly fishing.
The history of fly fishing spans 2,000 years, and Whitelaw offers fifty examples of flies to illustrate it.
This book is ideal for anybody interested in fly fishing, from novices to seasoned professionals.
The quality of this hardcover makes it aesthetically beautiful as a coffee table book, but it also fits nicely on a nightstand and gives an excellent foundation of information for people who are unfamiliar with the subject.
2. Lords Of The Fly: Madness, Obsession And The Hunt For The World Record Tarpon
Although I dwell in Pennsylvania, I have frequently fantasized about saltwater fishing and pursuing the kinds of fish that serve as the inspiration for this book.
Lords of the Fly is a book that describes the pursuit of world-record tarpon on the fly by some of the best fly anglers in the world.
This book is everything from a dull read. It is set in Homosassa, Florida, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when a new tarpon record was established every year.
Some of the best fly fishermen in the world (Lefty Kreh, Stu Apte, Ted Williams, Tom Evans, Billy Pate, and others) reveal both their strengths and weaknesses in this shockingly open and intimate book.
3. The Optimist: A Case For The Fly Fishing Life
Every book about fly fishing does not need to be a dense tome filled with dry scientific facts.
While I love reference manuals and technical writing about leads, knots, casting, and hatches, there is so much more to fly fishing than the mechanics and techniques we employ to attempt to catch trout.
The Optimist is a book by David Coggins that focuses on the contemplative and intensely personal aspects of fly fishing, as well as the sport’s philosophy.
Each chapter focuses on a certain kind of fish and the required expertise to capture it. From seawater to high mountain streams, Coggins employs his witty and intelligent language to wax poetic on all things fish and fly, but he also incorporates a welcome dose of comedy to keep the reader interested and turning pages.
The Washington Free Beacon describes The Optimist as “A pure and lengthy love letter to fishing,” and I cannot think of a better way to characterize it.
4. A Fly Rod Of Your Own
As an aspiring writer and an aspiring fly fisherman, I was familiar with the name John Gierach before I began pecking away at a laptop keyboard about the pastime I liked.
Gierach has written for Field & Stream and Gray’s Sporting Journal, and I got familiar with his writing after my father, in his amazing wisdom, bought me piles upon stacks of outdoor publications at estate sales.
Gierach is likened to Mark Twain of today, and the similarity is valid. His direct and discerning style makes his writing effortless to read repeatedly.
A Fly Rod of Your Own is a book on both life and fly fishing, and it is filled with the insightful and honest insights that have made Gierach a legend.
He covers all aspects of fly fishing and creates seamless linkages between the sport and the human condition.
This book is an excellent introduction to Gierach’s other twenty books and countless essays if you are unfamiliar with his work and writing style.
5. A River Trilogy: A Fly-Fishing Life
Vermont River, One River More, and Upland Stream are the three literary works that make up W.D. Wetherell’s A River Trilogy.
Each selection showcases Wetherell’s distinctive and intelligent writing style, and while each might stand on its own, the three work better as a compilation.
Vermont River is a luminous, genuine account of the fly fishing and natural beauty of Wetherell’s typical haunts. Upland Stream focuses on the high mountain streams of New England with an extended excursion into Scotland and trout “across the pond.”
One River More is the final tale in this collection, and while fishing is still the scene, Wetherell utilizes it to make insightful and thought-provoking remarks on fly fishing and its relationship to life, family, and aging.
This trilogy has a substantial amount of reading material, but it has reviewed positive reviews, with Vermont River being selected by Trout magazine as one of the thirty best books about fly fishing.
Over twenty books have been published by Wetherell, who is no stranger to the written word. This trilogy is a must-read for those of us who value both a good book and a good fish tale since he is a master of both the pen and the fly rod.
6. A Stream: American Writers On Fly Fishing
I adore fishing-related compilations of short stories and anecdotes.
This collection contains fly fishing stories by over thirty renowned and legendary authors, including:
Guy de la Valdène, Jim Harrison, Michael Keaton, Sydney Lea, Ted Leeson, Nick Lyons, Thomas McGuane, Joseph Monninger, and Le Anne Schreiber are just a few of the actors that have appeared in the film.
This collection of short stories is simple to navigate and requires less time than some of the lengthier books I’ve reviewed.
This collection of short stories is ideal for the bedside or the tying desk for a change of pace, in my opinion.
Books on Fly Fishing
The vast majority of fly fishing novels are factual or instructive. However, we did discover one book that is worth reading.
7. The River Why
David James Duncan has merged fly fishing with the contemporary book, and since The River Why was published in 1983, both anglers and “civilians” have regarded it as an absurdist masterpiece.
The majority of the books I’ve reviewed thus far are based in whole or in part on true events and anecdotes from the seasoned fisherman.
This book incorporates fly-fishing in a natural way into a fast-paced story, and the combination of these elements makes it a compelling, difficult-to-put-down read.
This fast-paced and humorous narrative contains a sincere and thoughtful depiction of fly fishing. Duncan is an ardent fly fisherman, as seen by his strong, detailed, and comprehensive understanding of the topic.
If you’re searching for something different from the other books I’ve reviewed here, I recommend The River Why.
It should appeal to both fly fishermen and fans of American literature.
Fly Fishing Books and Guides With Instructional Content
Finding instructional videos or articles on how to fly fish is rather simple. But sometimes, the best approach is to return to the basics with an educational book. We have reviewed some of the best instructional fly fishing books in this article.
8. The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide
This book exemplifies the company’s dedication to these ideals. The Orvis brand is synonymous with a long and storied history of enthusiasm and excellence in fly fishing.
This is a book that is appropriate for both novices and experts, and it has a special place on my bookcase.
If you began your adventure into fly fishing with YouTube as your sole first resource, you are probably already familiar with the author, Tom Rosenbauer. This book is an excellent companion to his ‘Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing’ series on YouTube, which has been and continues to be an important resource for me.
This book is crammed with information on a broad variety of topics, including knots, casting, full-color fly designs, and several gamefish and their locations. If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Rosenbaum’s online work, The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide is an excellent way to become familiar with him.
9. Tactical Fly Fishing: Lessons Learned From Competition For All Anglers
The extensive list of Devin Olsen’s accomplishments and credentials demonstrates the mastery of his craft, which is fly fishing.
Since 2006, Mr. Olsen has been a member of Fly Fishing Team USA, and in 2015 he won individual bronze and team silver at the 35th FIPS Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships in Jajce Bosnia.
The non-competition angler will benefit from reviewing Olsen’s skills and comparing them to their own. Olsen provides an in-depth and critical examination of the strategies he has utilized to win such tournaments.
If you are searching for a book that examines the fundamentals of fly fishing, this is it.
Books Regarding Entomology And “Matching The Hatch”
We reviewed two excellent books that any trout fly angler should have on his or her shelves. For people with a passion for biology or who wish to comprehend which flies symbolize the insects trout are pursuing, these books are essential.
10. The Bug Book: A Fly Fisher’s Guide To Trout Stream Insects
This book covers aquatic entomology in a manner that even inexperienced fly anglers may comprehend.
Many anglers chant the phrase “match the hatch” like a mantra, and this book delivers the information necessary to put that phrase into action on the water.
This book is an exhaustive reference to the life cycles and activities of those insects that serve as the principal food supply for the trout we target.
Paul Weamer has compiled an outstanding reference manual for understanding the “when, where, and why” of the hatches we observe on the water, as well as identifying and differentiating these insects.
Weamer skillfully mitigates the mystique and difficulty of knowing aquatic insects by his use of uncomplicated and simple language.
This is a must-have reference book for the vise, as it contains various fly recipes alongside full-color photographs of the insects we are attempting to emulate.
11. Handbook Of Hatches: Introductory Guide To The Food Trout Eat And Most Effective Flies To Match Them
If Paul Weamer’s The Bug Book (reviewed above) is an intermediate introduction to grasping the complexity of diverse bug hatches and life, then this book is the masterclass.
Handbook of Hatches is a useful resource for identifying the insects that inhabit trout’s habitat.
Not only does this book describe the look and behavior of aquatic insects, but it also includes crucial information on which flies to use and when, as well as the subtleties of presentation required to coax even the most reluctant trout out of hiding.
This book is written in such a way that anglers of all skill levels may benefit from reading it, despite its organization as a reference guide.
The entomology associated with fly fishing is sometimes the scariest and most perplexing aspect of the activity, but it need not be.
By writing this book, David Hughes has done every fly angler a favor, and I suggest it together with The Bug Book to equip you with a solid grasp of what occurs in freshwater.
Books on Fly Fishing Photography
Everyone appreciates a quality coffee table book, right? One photographic book was deemed worthy of ownership. The amazing photos will wow both anglers and non-anglers.
12. Salt: Coastal And Flats Fishing Photography
I’ve never fished in saltwater, but I find it utterly fascinating. This book and its images provide a look into the awe-inspiring and mighty world of saltwater fly fishing.
The quality of this book’s images makes it more than deserving of a permanent spot on your coffee table.
This book contains breathtaking action shots of fly fishermen pursuing bonefish, permit, and tarpon, but it’s not just an art gallery of angling photographs; Tom Rosenbauer also contributed to this book.
Regardless of whether you continue to hunt trout throughout the winter or not, there should be sufficient reading material reviewed here to bring you through to spring.
Fly fishing is a subject so immersive and personal that it is not surprising that people from all walks of life and skill levels have written about it for decades. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the hobby and reading about fly fishing from authors who appear to appreciate it only solidified my devotion.
Many of these authors successfully capture the vast, abstract emotions I get while I’m on the ocean. I urge you to read some of these books, whether for entertainment, education, or a combination of both.