Welcome to the first of our
"Book Reviews". I will be presenting
at least two books each month and will feature new releases
as well as previously published works. The focus of course
will be on fly fishing book reviews, fly tying etc., but
I will also be choosing titles of general outdoor interest.
I may also share some video titles.
On! A Guide to Playing and Landing Big Fish on a
Written by Floyd Franke; Forward by Joan
Publisher: National Book Network Inc.
120 pages, Clothbound
Sometimes the simplest things
are the least obvious. When Floyd Franke pointed out to
me that this was the first book ever published on the
subject of hooking, playing and landing trophy fish on
the flyrod, I was a little surprised. I shouldn't have
been. The two most common areas that flyfishers seem to
have problems with are casting and playing and landing
fish. Though reams have been published on casting, precious
little ink has been devoted to the rest of the job. Most
guides agree that many fly anglers struggle with the big
ones, often losing them at their feet. I have a hunch
that this recent addition to the Derrydale Press collection
will become an angling literature classic. And along the
way a great many fly fishers are going to take a giant
step-up in the quality of their fishing experience.
I first met Floyd Franke over
a decade ago at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum,
where he was demonstrating his meticulopus fly tying skills
for the visitors at the annual Opening Day events. Floyd
is a world recognized expert fly tier, has won numerous
awards, and has many original fly patterns to his credit.
Floyd's articles are widely published. He has been the
Director of the Casting Board of Governors of the Federation
of Flyfishers. And after many years on the staff of the
Wulff School of Flyfishing, teaching along with Lee and
Joan Salvato Wulff, is now head of the teaching program
there. He also runs the Ephemera Guide Service in Roscoe
New York, where he lives with his wife Bert, just steps
away from the banks of the legendary Beaverkill River.
I had the good fortune of taking
fly casting instruction from Floyd, both at the Wulff
Instructor's School and during my work for FFF Casting
Instructor Certification. Floyd is a wonderfully gifted
teacher; he makes the complicated seem simple, while encouraging
you to work harder than you ever have before. In short,
he makes difficult things possible. When I first saw him
giving a talk, at a winter flyfishing show near Boston
some years ago,on the techniques revealed in this book,
the entire room was spellbound. Floyd's passion for the
subject is overwhelming. I have used many of his revolutionary
angling methods in my guiding and teaching work ever since.
If you take the time to learn these angling techniques
your success rate at landing fish will go up. Way up.
Floyd's organizational skills
and clear, concise style of presentation ring throughout
this long overdue work. Beginning with an overview of
his own angling career path; sharing his many struggles
and achievements along the way,( broken rods and leaders,
lost fish and the ones that got away, and trophies landed
too), Floyd chronicles his progress and learning, from
his humble worm-dunking days as a boy, to his times shared
fishing and teaching with fly angling legends and pioneers
Lee and Joan Salvato Wulff. While Floyd credits much of
the foundational work of his methods to the Wulffs, it
is obvious that the author has steeped himself in this
subject to an extroadinary depth. Most of the scenery
in this book will relate strongly to freshwater fly fishing,
yet much is to be gained through careful study for all
kinds of fishers, including saltwater boat anglers. Simple
line drawings and a few photographs illuminate the topic.
An interesting, if not downright unusual, chapter on the
playing and landing characteristics of numerous gamefish
species got my attention. The last chapter: "Conservation/Catch
and Release" is a fitting close for this book, and
a reminder of the responsibilities inherent in modern
conservation angling. Something sorely missing from many
The book begins with the classic
"Three Rules for Playing Big Fish":
" To keep the rod tip
up, to keep the pressure on, and to not allow slack is
about as uncomplicated as it gets. But the three rules
are only a starting point. Learning the rules is followed
by learning when to break them."
Over the next six chapters
Floyd Franke breaks every rule in the book to help you
learn something about landing trophy fish, with less effort
and less harm to the fish, and much more quickly than
many anglers would assume possible. First off; Floyd defines
a "big fish" as relative to the tackle being
used. So for any given weight rod and line, and any sport
fishing species, there are sure to be some lessons learned.
For the most part the work is directed toward catch and
release angling, with a great deal of attention to understanding
rods, reels, lines, leader and tippett construction, materials,
knots etc. But everything is presented with the understanding
that you are now taking a huge leap past everything else
you may have known about the wild ride of handling a big
fish in fast water. You will be learning how and when
to break the old rules.
Some of it will be a surprise.
Floyd gives some very detailed accounts of how beneficial
it often is to give a thrashing fish all the slack that
you possibly can; rod pointed toward the fish and virtually
no drag at all. He is not just talking about simply "bowing
the rod" to a leaping fish either- He's talking about
free-wheeling SLACK! When was the last time you tried
that on a southbound, chrome-bright, winter steelhead?
It works! Ever try calmly walking a big ,ocean fresh King
Salmon up a beach to the next pool?
First Floyd shows you how to
test your own tackle to be sure that you have what it
takes. Then he discusses the way rods really work when
we have a big fish pulling on the end of our line. Then
he teaches us how to play and land the big ones. It takes
some study and practise. And you will have to do that
yourself. But this book could help you land some of the
biggest fish of your life. It has worked for me.
Color of Winter, Steelhead Fly Fishing on the Olympic
Written by Doug Rose
Publisher: Frank Amato Publications
156 pages, soft cover
When I first came to the Olympic
Peninsula I picked up a copy of Doug Rose's first book:
"Fly Fishing the Olympic Peninsula", and read
it from cover to cover during an autumn of camping and
hiking and fishing. Unlike most regional guides, that
book was a treasure trove of fly fishing lore, tips, local
characters and natural history. At first glance I could
not find any indication of where to go or how to go about
it, but it was there. I have read that little book each
winter since that first autumn of firelight study, each
time finding more richness and depth than I did before.
Readers familiar with that guide, and Doug Rose's many
other essays on fly fishing, and especially wild fisheries
conservation, will not be disappointed in this most recent
If a single word could say
it all "Passion" would have to suffice. Perhaps
it is no coincidence that amongst the first and last words
of this book are the words "love" and "prayer".
Doug's writing on the Wild Steelhead of the Olympic Peninsula,
and so many important things, events and people connected
to them, is committed and colorful, both humble and strident.
Perhaps it will take more than one word.
I must admit that much of my
attraction to this book, indeed my enduring and eager
anticipation for it's arrival, was partly based on the
secret hope that Doug would finally tell it all; where
to go and how to do it. Well, he does and he dosn't. He
addresses his tight lipped style in his first book by
advising the reader "that's just the way it is out
here". And just like reading his first book, once
you get past your silly ambitions you will realize that
you are being shown something much more important. And
you will appreciate him for not giving it all away too
In twenty-five rich chapters
Doug Rose has lassoed the breadth and depth of the Olympic
Peninsula in a way that will have me reading this book
every winter for years to come. He has a way of being
the "fisherman's-fisherman"; never boasting
or pretending, always a little humble and self effacing,
always seeing the truth at the core of things. He eschews
the world of pricey tackle and the cult of personalities
in fly fishing. Most of Doug's fishing trips are far from
the road, solo hikes into the wilderness.
A modest collection of beautiful
photographs of places, people, fish and flies spices the
collection. There are "ghosts" in this book;
the ghosts of rivers and people and fish of the past.
These ghost and their stories will haunt you throughout
the read, and afterward too. From the native tribes who
lived here for thousands of years before the white race
arrived to the bare knuckled loggers who scraped a life
from the wilderness with hand saws and axes, stories of
rivers teeming with wild fish, and the story of waste
and plunder that underlies the current state of fisheries
When it comes to entities no
less than the federal government, Forests and Fish, Washington's
fisheries managers,(and their ethic of Maximum Sustained
Harvest), a host of related commercial interests and individuals,
including the logging industry; Doug Rose fires no shot
over the bow but resoundingly slaps them for their legacy
of destruction to habitat and wildlife, especially Wild
Steelhead. This alone will have you standing and cheering.
With a list of references to published scientific works
by qualified parties in a spread of disciplines, it could
take you another year just to chase down all those citations
and read them. This is a well researched, thoughtful and
And it is also a labor of love.
Not just for the fish but for the entire Olympic Peninsula
and every living thing on it. Doug shares one fishing
trip in "Winter Solstice", on a hike to the
rageing surf at the mouth of the Ozette one stormy winter
night. I had hoped for a big-fish ending. What I got was
a sensitive and brilliant portrayal of the history, both
natural and human, of the entire area. Most of the chapters
read that way. Elsewhere we visit with some of the old,
and new, masters of the fly fishing arts on the Peninsula,
most noteably Syd Glasso. Doug pays attention to flies
too, with a few color plates and some wisdom gained through
his 20 plus years of experience on the rivers. Along the
way Doug shares the knowledge of a handful of regional
fishing guides and resident fly fishermen. For readers
new to the Peninsula's rivers this will be rewarding.
For more experienced Peninsula anglers, affirming.
If you come to this book
for places to go and things to do you might be a little
disappointed. Doug makes you work for it. But just like
his first book, it is all there for the willing reader.
And for those who do the work of rising to this book's
level, you will be enchanted and enriched. And perhaps
even motivated to make a difference on behalf of the Wild
Steelhead of the Olympic Peninsula.
Canada From Coast to Coast to Coast
Written by 33 members of the Outdoors Writers
Edited by Robert H. Jones
Publisher: Johnson and Gorman
544 pages, 275 color photographs
This book, published in 2001,
is an encyclopedic introduction to fly fishing in Canada.
The breadth of subjects spreads out before the reader
like a wheat field in the prarielands. Many of the writers
here have opted to illuminate the same or similar subject
matter. While no single article is untenuously long, in
fact some are quite brief, together they serve to inform
and encourage. Reading this book has me dreaming of all
things fishy in Canada.
Of particular interest was
the thorough presentations regarding such species as Chub,
Carp, Garpike, Sheefish and Whitefish, Suckers and Crappie.
There's even a great article on "dry fly" fishing
for Pike. Fresh water and Saltwater are well represented
and, as the title says, from coast to coast to coast.
There is enough information in this book to provide any
angler curious about fishing in Canada with the beginnings
of a solid trip plan. Though a little short on exact locations,
maps etc, the articles are very generous in their expose
of some well kept Canadian secrets. Amongst my favorite
essays was "Exotic Alternatives", with some
interesting thoughts on some not so thought about fish.
And don't worry, all the favorite trout and salmon are
covered as well, in great detail.
But it is hard to have
a favorite article from this book because so much of it
is so good. The reading on Cutthroat Trout alone is extensive,
but then so is the information about Walleye and Salmon
and Cod. It is a refreshingly balanced work in this day
of trout mania. Surprisingly to me there were quite a
few recipies attatched to many of the articles, and some
of them sound pretty good. The book is loaded with a beautiful
photo essay of Canada's many diverse fly fishing opportunities.
The fly section features over 100 flies, some with recipies,
many of them photographed. Several related articles outline
scavenging opportunities for the frugal, or downright
adventurous tier- simply hilarious . A contributor's biography
section follows, as well as an exhaustive listing of fishing
shops across Canada.And it's fully indexed. Much of the
work will have you smiling from time to time, but consider
this a serious reference for the serious anglers library.
Rising- True Life Survivor Tales From The Great
By Brett Nunn
Publisher: Sasquatch Books Trade
When I heard Brett Nunn recently,
reading from his little gem of a book at the Jefferson
County Library, I knew that I had found my first title
for the Book Review. Brett's lifelong love of the outdoors
has carried him to great lengths of adventure here in
the Northwest, and beyond. He pursued a Geology career
in hopes of making a life in the mountains. That didn't
work out. The big problem for Brett was that he is a storyteller
at heart, and so he surrendered to the muse and began
to write. He has written for Seattle based and national
newspapers, magazines and recently published his first
book;"Panic Rising". He lives with his family
in Port Townsend, Washington.
Some of you may recall that
a while back we had a topic on the Forum here at Washingtonflyfishing.com
called "Near Death And The Lessons Learned".
That topic got a lot of interest and some memorable, if
not hair-raising stories were shared. Brett's vivid accounts,
excerpted from a handful of true outdoors survival stories
from the Northwest, have much in common with the stories
our members posted under that topic. In his Introduction
to the book Brett says of these moments of near death:
"If you have ever
been through a survival situation, it is all too easy
to sum up someone else's desperate crisis as the result
of pure stupidity. This is far from the truth. It can
happen to anyone. Those who are comfortable in their chosen
outdoor pursuit may be the most susceptible. The difference
between lost and found, between danger and safety, is
a thin line that everyone walks sooner or later. Once
crossed it is hard to get back, often easier to keep moving
forward, and always too late when the seriousness of the
situation becomes apparent.
Each of the twenty stories
is presented in Brett's unique style of immediacy, first
conveying the factual, then the urgent, even the harrowing,
while carrying the reader along in breathless detatchment.
I knew I was safe in my chair, reading of someone else's
fate, yet I found myself riveted in heart-pounding attention
to every detail. Finishing every story only left me in
anticipation of the next. The one flyfishing related story,
"River Wild", telling the adventure of two pontoon-rowing
anglers, on the North Fork of the Lewis River in Washington,
is worth the price of the book alone. Another account,
of some wrong choices up the Elwah, hits close to home.
Aside from the tremendous entertainment
of this book, perhaps it's greatest value will be to provide
outdoors adventurers; climbers, hikers, skiers, paddlers,
hunters and fishermen, in the Northwest with a set of
sobering, cautionary tales. Sometimes it is better to
learn from other people's mistakes. Reading this book
could save your life.