The Basic book of fly tying Fly fishing book reviews 

The Basic Manual of Fly-Tying
Paul N. Fling and Donald L. Puterbaugh
Softbound:   224 pp.
Sterling Publishing   $19.95
ISBN 1-4027-3869-2

Fly tying by Fling and PuterbaughI've been bending the pages of Fling's and Puterbaugh's Basic Manual for nearly half a life. So imagine how delighted I was when this new addition showed up in the mailbox. Some books just never get old.

This version isn't just a reprint. Most parts have been tweaked in numerous ways. Etymology sections have been updated. The tools section has been significantly increased, which is an area I always look at first to see what I've overlooked in my arsenal of fly tools. New patterns have been added to reflect modern trends in fly tying, such as bead heads and foam bodies. And the illustrations and explanations have been reorder to bring out more clarity in an already clear and well presented text. There are good reasons why this manual has been around a long time.

In this era of .gif's and .jpg's and other things photographic and digital, you'd almost expect a book like this to reflect those trends as well. There is good reason why this isn't so. Once you work through some of these patterns, you realize that a lot more information is being conveyed in an intelligently drawn illustration (which, by the way, have been handsomely updated as well) than in a photo.

In an illustration, for example, the precise position of thread under a finger, or the exact placement of materials pinched between shank and finger for ease of a tie down, can be clearly shown with graphical tricks and conventions. Doing all this with photos often misses the critical parts that make the difference between a successful fly and a mess, leaving you scratching your head as you ask yourself, How in the world do you get that wing in place.

The hallmark of the book hasn't change--the troubleshooting section. This alone is worth the price of the book. Whether the thread is breaking, the floss is fraying and splitting, the hackle is breaking or twisting wrong, or whatever it is that is messing with your life in front of the vice, you'll find a solution in this section of the book. But don't wait until something goes wrong before going to this section. Read it all through before venturing forth.

The Basic Manual, according to the authors, is for the beginner. But I've been dipping in it for a long time, and will continue to do so, in search of the perfect tie--and fewer frayed nerves when things go wrong.


--Toney J. Sisk


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