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Fly-Tying Techniques and Patterns was the first fly-tying book that we purchased. Looking through it at our local sporting goods store, it looked like a great primer on fly-tying and presented hundreds of patterns that could be tied with the techniques presented in the book. So we picked it up!
The “Introduction” is a brief overview of fly-tying and the contents of the book. It is simple and brief, very no-nonsense and no thrills.
“Understanding Fly Tying” gives a very brief history of the hobby of fly tying, as well as a simple picture of an aquatic ecosystem. It’s a simple chapter, but the information that is presented is actually a wealth of information. In the section “Aquatic Foods” and the picture of the aquatic ecosystem, it is shown what types of bugs live in and around the aquatic ecosystem and how fly tyers have created imitation flies to represent the living organism.
“Fly Tying Tools & Materials” is, once again, a brief chapter on a very complex and deep topic. What is nice about its brevity is that it does not get preachy about what types of tools you should purchase. It quickly points out the tools and leaves the fly-tyer to his own design when it comes to picking out tools. The brevity loses though when it comes to explaining materials and why certain materials are better than others. Many would like a clear explanation of why certain hackle feathers should be used over others, the author briefly touches upon the idea that rooster capes are better for dry flies, but doesn’t give clear, concise reasons. This was a disappointment in the chapter.
“Fly Patterns” is where the book was a letdown to be honest. Each section for the various types of flies began with the instructions to tie what many would assume be the quintessential fly for that section. The streamers section presented the Mickey Finn (I would have chosen the Wooly Bugger), dry flies-the Adams, nymphs-The Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, wet flies-The Light Cahill, terrestrials-The Deer-Hair Beetle, and bass & pike flies-The Dahlberg Diver. Each pattern was given roughly 8 pictures and write-ups of the steps necessary to tie the fly, give or take a couple. This can be contrasted by other tying books and methods that use 40-50 pictures and descriptions to show how to tie each fly. It could be that you were suppose to learn each step firmly from the “Fly-Tying Basics” chapter, however, each step and technique works a little different with each fly, for example ribbing a Elk Hair’s Caddis is different than ribbing a Gold-Ribbed Hair’s Ear. After the presentation fly is presented at the beginning of each section, there are a number of patterns and recipes shown of each specific fly type. For a pro, or a veteran tyer, this is fine because they know most steps for each fly. However, for the neophyte, tying a Gold-Ribbed Hair’s Ear is different than tying a large black stonefly nymph. You get a recipe for both, however, nothing to help with the stonefly.
The entire book is thoroughly indexed in the “Index.”
Overall, this is a really good primer and each step for multiple techniques are clearly shown. However, that level of production is not given when those techniques must be incorporated into tying a fly. We would thoroughly recommend this for someone who has some tying under their belt and wants a great catalog of new recipes. We would not purchase this book again as our initial foray into the tying world.