Spend your off season reading these 3 Best Fly Fishing Books for the Winter and you will be prepped and ready to hit the water once the season begins in full swing.
In winter season passionate fly fishing anglers find themselves often experiencing the effects of cabin fever as the darker hours and cooler temperatures come in with the winter solstice, keeping us off the water. Some of us may spend hours on end tying flies for the upcoming season in our attic, or taking a trip closer to the equator to chase warm water fish. I find myself finding solace entering the pages of books written by veteran and aspiring anglers who passionately pounded the keyboard in order to share shreds of fly fishing knowledge and stories which may be recorded in fly fishing posterity for a new generation of anglers. Each winter I consume 2-3 books written by a variety of angler authors (journalists, novelists, biologists, or just plain good ole boys) hoping to grasp 7 or 8 paragraphs of guidance which will improve my skills for the next time an obstinate veteran brown trout may be tempted to emerge from his lie.
For this blog I hope to share a sampling a 3 well written and completely different fly fishing books which may help you as a fly fishing angler improve your game as we head into the 2022 fly fishing season.
3 Fly Fishing Books You Should Read This Winter
I have been an angler my entire life. However, I didn’t catch the fly fishing addiction until my mid twenties after purchasing a Groupon two day guided fly fishing trip into the Western part of North Carolina not far from my home at the time in North Alabama. It was a great experience and I was immediately hooked, the difference in fly fishing compared to traditional spin casting was dramatic and I found myself almost in a meditative state in the small streams spilling out of the Appalachian Mountains. Furthermore, believe it or not I only caught 2 fish but I didn’t care – fly fishing was my new passion. I haven’t picked up a traditional fishing pole in the 15 years since.
Once I got home the immediate challenge was to better understand fly fishing on a basic level. I tore thru my library of books stacked throughout my home and finally uncovered an old paperback book a boss once gave me as a gift for performing well on a work project. Little did I know The Reasonable Art of Fly Fishing by Terry Mort would be the gateway into unearthing the magic that is fly fishing. Terry Mort gradually walks new anglers into the world of fly fishing. He discusses the nuances of rods, reels, fly line, tippet, basic trout behavior, rivers vs streams, dry flies, nymphs basically everything and anything a new fly fisherman needs to understand at the lowest level to get going. I love this book, it is unpretentious and the author even acknowledges his own limitation as a angler but also as an author trying to explain fly fishing. For example, Mort, does not try and describe how to cast he simply tell you it is best to watch other anglers or get lessons from a guide service but words on paper cannot adequately educate his audience on casting. But one thing is clear don’t watch A River Runs Thru It to perfect your cast, Brad Pitt and Tom Skerritt make wonderful performances but let us leave it at that alone.
The Reasonable Art of Fly Fishing is exceptional, I flew thru the book and on my very next fly fishing trip which happened to be in Jackson Hole, Wyoming I already had more confidence and understanding as my guide and I fished the Wind River Range. If you are an experience angler with confidence this book may not be for you however, anyone looking to get a jump start on fly fishing should read this generous and simple to read book.
It can be purchased online but I would encourage you to support a local bookstore if possible to get this book.
As teenager just as the fishing and hunting bug really bit me my mother purchased me a subscription to Field and Stream. I can still remember spending long nights deeply engrossed in the adventures of Whitetail Deer Hunts, Duck Hunting along the Chesapeake Bay in my home state of Maryland and the countless photos of large fish caught on amazing backcountry rivers or huge lakes in the South. I absolutely loved the short stories and many of them reminded me of sitting around the hunting camps with my father and his friends before we hit the sack.
I miss the short, concise stories these journalists once provided monthly on actual paper. Something tangible I could hold in my hand as I sat up in bed spitting small drops of Copenhagen into a cup that I hid from my parents well before I was legally allowed to purchase tobacco.
Earlier this year, I had an extended inpatient stay at the Mayo Clinic. One of my best fishing buddies here in Durango, Colorado gave me a collection of short stories as a gift to kill the time while I was sitting in bed all week. Thanks to him I was introduced to Jim Gierach and his collection of short stories All Fishermen Are Liars. Now first let us get it out of the way, Jim Gierach is a Fly Fishing Hall of Famer, he isn’t just a story teller. This book is a collection of 22 of his best short stories from chasing the disappearing large Brook Trout in the Great Lakes off the Upper Peninsula to fishing local waters around his home in Colorado. Gierach is blessed with the ability to write in the tone and mindset of true fly fishermen, he understands the ups and downs we all go thru both personally or when we have just a plain ole stinker of a day on the water. But that is the beauty of his writing. It is real, no BS, he is one of us. Each story is well constructed, educational and emotional, mostly around 10 pages so short and sweet to read. This is a book to keep by the nightstand all winter and pick up from time to time to remind all anglers the season is just around the corner and more fish are yet to be caught.
Ready to step up your fly fishing game, then it is time to understand entomology. All fly fishermen have been in that position, rising trout all around, endlessly eating something we just cannot seem to imitate or understand. Well BugWater: A Fly Fisher’s Look Through the Season at Bugs in Their Acquatic Habitat and the Fish That Eat Them by Arlen Thomson is the perfect textbook to dive into the world of insects and why and when fish consume them. Make no mistake BugWater is written more like a high school biology textbook,
it is a 206 page in depth study of insect life. The author is a Ph. D in biochemistry so don’t expect jokes or campfire stories in this book but instead dive into the depths and you will emerge with a fully metamorphosed angler. BugWater has a large amount of high detail photos showcasing the changes of insects thru the course in their lives and why, where and when an avid fly angler can best expect those hatches to be on fire. This textbook is the master class of fly anglers, once you’ve perfected you cast and have a grasp of basic trout and insect behavior reading this book will improve your knowledge exponentially, I myself found the storied lives of insects as if not more interesting than trout behavior. The author goes in as much detail as showing high resolution pictures of line of sight angles trout see specific insects as they emerge or land on the water to drop eggs. It is a fascinating book, well written and in depth. After all, every great fly angler must become a well educated biologist and entomologist to keep improving their craft.
BugWater provides the key to unlocking the untold secrets we often times never see below the waterline. It is a heavy read but then again fly fishing is for a unique class of sportsmen. It is all in the challenge. Fooling our next fish. One of the best books you can buy specific to fly fishing instruction.