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Innovative Flies and Techniques
Al Beatty and Gretchen Beatty
Softbound:   196 pages.
Frank Amato Publications   $35.00
ISBN  1-57188-347-9
Innovative Flies and Techniques by Al Beatty and Gretchen Beatty

There are many books that catalogue flies and their tyers. The trouble with most is that they catalogue too many flies to either make sense of them or to place them in a useful context. The Beattys, though,  have done something different by presenting the kind of pattern anthology that associates  faces with the flies. Instead of presenting dozens of tyers and their patterns, the authors have carefully gathered representative flies along with anecdotal biographies of some of the finer and upcoming tyers. As a result the reading becomes more useful,  interesting and entertaining than the usual efforts.

There are probably more manufactured flies than insects in the flyfishing market today, and as many attempts to list them across books and web sites. Finding a useful and effective fly to put at the end of a tippet by browsing these sources may not leave enough time to fish. Approaching the plethora of patterns from a personal perspective is a useful way to illuminate the finer attempts to paint an insect on a hook. And this is exactly what the Beatty's have done in their latest work.

Familiar tyers, such as Bill Black, Jim Schollmeyer and Henry Hoffman, are marshaled in, along with the lesser known but imaginative tyers. The authors don't merely itemize the construction of other people's flies. The life stories of these famous tyers are presented, starting from their meager beginnings to their current expressions that appear as artistic as they are effective. This is much more interesting than a mere compilation of fly tying theory and endless tying recipes.

Knowing that some of our great fly tyers started in fits and starts like you and I, offers a human perspective to the patterns and keeps us in the book. Bill Blacks story about processing feathers in a local Laundromat during his tenure with Umpqua Feather Merchants is particularly entertaining.

The patterns presented range from the simple to the complex, from the impressionistic to the exact, from the miniscule to the gigantic--with insights into how to approach the fish with them. Some truly imaginative patterns come to light in the process, such as Henry Hoffman's variation upon a woolly bugger, called a Chicabugger, or Kim Jensen's caddis pattern constructed with the actual sand particles from the stream the insect lives in.

--Toney J. Sisk



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