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We own a lot of fly-tying books, from some that we wish we would never have bought to others that we recommend to everyone that is willing to listen. Charlie Craven's Basic Fly Tying (BFT) falls into the latter category. If a person was to get one fly-tying book it should be this one!
The one thing that sets BFT apart from any other fly-tying book in our library is the way that it is organized. As with most beginner or basic fly-tying courses or books, it starts with a discussion of tools and materials and gives tips to speed up tying or use material more effectively. And any tips from a person able to tie flies fast enough for sale are tips that should be listened to! Each section, tools and materials, is in-depth enough to make sure that the neophyte completely understands the nuances at hand, hook sizes for example, but they do not get so long that they become tedious.
Next comes general procedures that are going to be used on every single fly tied in the book. From getting the hook into the vice to tying in material, Craven's pictures and description make certain that anyone is able tie a fly.
Seventeen flies you might be saying to yourself, that's not a lot of flies! And you may be correct and there are other tying books that offer recipes for way more flies, essentially increasing your bang for your buck. However, the purpose of BFT is not to be a compilation of every fly that Charlie Craven can tie, rather, it's an instruction book for the noob! If you can tie a Stimulator, Hare's Ear, or Humpy there is no need to get this book, you have the skills and repertoire that are taught and the primary focus of the book. But, the variations to the basic flies are nice and might just be the new fly you've been looking for!
It should also be noted, how many flies does a person actually use? We try new flies all the time, finding out if it might be the next big thing, but in reality we stick with maybe twelve different flies with basic color variations among them. Perhaps a green humpy instead of the orange humpy. The flies presented in BFT all fit into that category, perennials that continue to fool trout and that anyone on trout water can get use from. Now, it does not focus on more specialized flies, bass flies for example. This is one of our major complaints, but again, BFT is a basic or beginners book!
Overall, we continue to recommend BFT to every new fly-tyer. It's not perfect and you'll be adding to your library eventually. But if you want a strong foundation in fly-tying then you need to get Charlie Craven's Basic Fly Tying!