Stu Farnham

April 22nd, 2002

A Fly Fisher's Library
By Stu Farnham

The Internet is a powerful resource. It provides us instant access to information, and brings us together via email, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and instant messaging. FAOL is a wonderful example of the Internet at its best. The Internet, however, will never replace the printed page.

I've loved books and fishing since my youngest years, although I did not start fly fishing until 1993. This column will give me an opportunity to share reviews of some of my favorite fly fishing and tying books (and some that are not such favorites) with my friends here at FAOL. My library reflects my tastes and interests, and so will this column. It will be heavily slanted towards cold water fishing and tying for trout and steelhead, and won't touch much on areas of which I know little, such as warm or salt water fishing.

I hope that these reviews will motivate some of you to pick up a good book, on this or any subject, and read. ~ Stu Farnham

Three Fly Pattern Books

This week I'm going to write about three of the fly pattern books from my library. All three came out at about the same time, and all three were written by Oregonians. Fly Patterns and Frontier Flies cover the whole range of fishing flies, including trout, salmon/steelhead, warm water, and salt water flies. Trout Flies limits itself to (guess what?) flies for trout. Both Fly Patterns and Frontier Flies are, in effect catalogs for commercial fly suppliers, Umpqua Feather Merchants and Frontier Flies, respectively.

Fly Patterns of the Umpqua Feather Merchants: The World's 1,500 Best Flies
By Randall Kaufmann
Hardcover (July 1998)
Umpqua Pub Co
ISBN: 1885212151

Randall Kaufmann needs no introduction to most fly fishers and tiers. His Stimulator and stonefly nymph patterns are staples in most of our fly boxes, and he has written several excellent tying and fishing books. I'm sorry to say that this book is not up to his usual quality. The patterns are organized alphabetically in broad categories (e.g., Dry Flies). All bead head patterns appear under "B." While there is a good index, I find pattern books that are further subdivided by the type of prey being imitated to be easier to browse when trying to locate a new baetis pattern, for example. Randall Kaufmann In order to get to the desired "body count" of 1,500 patterns, a number of patterns are repeated multiple times with no variation other than color. There are editing and production problems as well. Several photographs don't match the pattern over which they are listed, and the color consistency in the photographs is poor. On the positive side, each section is prefaced with good, short essays by noted fly tiers (who have licensed use of their names and patterns to Umpqua).

Frontier Flies
By Troy Bachmann, Jim Schollmeyer (Photography)
Paperback - 128 pages (September 1998)
Dimensions (in inches): 0.39 x 11.01 x 8.53
Frank Amato Publications
ISBN: 1571881298

Frontier Flies is all the things that Fly Patterns should have been, even if it doesn't include 1,500 patterns. The chapters have subdivisions that make browsing easy. Troy Backman 'Dry flies for Trout,' for example, has sections on baetis, callibaetis, BWO, green drake, Hendrickson, pale evening and morning duns, and others.

Some color variations are presented, but not to excess. Jim Schollmeyer's photographs are, as usual, excellent. Like Fly Patterns, each chapter has a preface written by a noted fly tier or fisher. The patterns are a nice mix of standard fare and newer designs.

Trout Flies of the West: Best Contemporary Patterns from the Rockies, West
By Jim Schollmeyer and Ted Leeson
Paperback - 128 pages (January 1999)
Dimensions (in inches): 0.43 x 10.98 x 8.54
Frank Amato Publications
ISBN: 157188145X

I have at least 20 pattern books. Each has its own merits (and flaws), and each presents a few patterns not seen anywhere else. There's a lot of repetition, too, as most books try to be somewhat comprehensive in their coverage. Ted Leeson So, 20 pattern books yield 20 elk hair caddis, 20 royal Wulff, and so forth. Jim Schollmeyer and Ted Leeson took a different approach when they put together a series of pattern books. Trout Flies of the West, subtitled 'Best Contemporary Patterns from the Rockies, West' was the first in a series which also includes Trout Flies of the East and Inshore Flies. For this series, they asked fly shops in each region to provide innovative or specialized local patterns. Jim Schollmeyer The resulting books are full of creative patterns and new ideas. Each fly pattern is listed along with the submitter, originator, and tier. Many of the patterns include tying and fishing notes, and a number a photographed from multiple angles or in multiple variations. Unsurprisingly, book features Shollmeyer's outstanding photography.

I can't help but share a favorite pattern from each book. From Trout Flies of the West, I really like the Baetis Soft developed by John Smeraglio of the Deschutes Canyon Fly Shop in Maupin, OR. No wonder, as this fly was developed for my home waters. In Frontier Flies, Troy does the middle-aged fly fisher a great service with his 'twilight' flies, patterns which feature high-visibility parachute posts or highlights. Randall Kaufmann's Signal Light Spey, a spey adaptation of his own hair wing pattern, became the basis for a low water variation of my own. ~ Stu Farnham

About Stu

Stu tying Stu Farnham is a New Englander by birth, who was transplanted to and put down roots in Oregon in the early 1990s. A software engineering manager by vocation, he can be found in his spare time chasing trout and steelhead in the rivers of the Pacific Northwest, chasing his four Gordon Setters (who in turn are chasing chukar), tying flies, reading, or working on his website. Colleen, his long suffering wife of 28 years, is a professionally trained personal chef.

Previous Stu Farnham Book Columns

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