Fly Fishing for Dummies
Softbound: 384 pp.
Wiley Publishing $21.99
Who would have thought that calling people a bunch of dummies and not only getting away with it but making a ton of money to boot would work? Such is the success of the Dummies series. There are Dummies books on every conceivable topic from relativity theory to . . . well, fly fishing. Not that I'm suggesting these books aren't useful. They are very useful, and generally well praised.
Looking down the aisles of a typical bookstore, you can spot the black and yellow contrasting covers easily in most aisles. I imagine that a marketer for the publisher spends a lot of time walking the aisles looking to see which aisles are missing a black and yellow book. Then he or she investigates the subject matter of the suspect aisle, makes a few notes about whether a yellow and black should be written for the aisles, then goes back to the office and finds some authors to write yet another Dummies book. The marketers for similar series that include such books like the Complete idiot's Guide to Fly fishing (Alpha books) must do the same. Maybe they bump into each other in the aisles and furtively scurry away, trying to hide their secret new market/aisle strategy. As a fledging fly fisher, I suppose you have to decide for yourself whether you'd rather be called a dummy or an idiot, and then by that book. If you'd rather be called a moron, then I suppose you should start your own series of books.
All kidding aside, this book is very well crafted. Its purpose is not only to initiate the neophyte; it is also a good review of the basics and new attitudes toward fly fishing that anyone can benefit from--presented in a light hearted way that doesn't become irritating.
Every major topic, short of full-dressed salmon flies and spey casting, is covered thoroughly enough to get a fly fisher excited and asking intelligent questions at the local fly shop. The sidebars are useful scanning devices for the more advanced fly fisher, who'd rather rummage around little factoids about fishing rather than explore a chapter in depth. I especially like the side bar about how to remove a hook using on extra piece of thick tippet as a yanking tool.
The book is up-to-date with the popular fish species, with the exclusion of carp. Not that I fish carp, but carp is becoming one of the new fish to chase, sort of the poor man's steelhead.
The chapters on casting, equipment, entomology, and fly tying are all up-to-date and thorough. I especially like the inclusion of the hair ball pattern of chaotic untrimmed deer hair. The next time someone laughs at my ill-tied deer hair patterns, I'll tell them it's a hair ball pattern.
There are two reason to put this book on your bookshelf. If you are new to the sport, you'll learn a lot since the book touches upon nearly all aspects of the sport. You might not become an expert right away, but you'll at least be able to keep up with some of the conversations around the fly tying table or during the next fly-fishing meeting. And you'll be able to wax intelligently before your fly shop pro when you ask for an olive callibaetis imitation.
You might also want this book to pass along to that newcomer who's been bugging you to go fishing. But make sure you get the book back each time. Over the years I've had dozens of people ask me about fly fishing, and if I didn't have a standard book to handout and get back, there would be fewer fly fishers out there--and a few more dummies.
--Toney J. Sisk
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