Fly Fishing Book Reviews
Host - Bob Triggs

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.

Fish On! A Guide to Playing and Landing Big Fish on a Fly
Written by Floyd Franke; Forward by Joan Salvato Wulff
Publisher: National Book Network Inc.
120 pages, Clothbound
ISBN 1-58667-070-0
$24.95

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 angling books.

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.

The Color of Winter, Steelhead Fly Fishing on the Olympic Peninsula
Written by Doug Rose
Publisher: Frank Amato Publications
156 pages, soft cover
ISBN 157188-303-7
$15.95

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 book.

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 cheaply.

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 management.

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 scholorly work.

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.

Fly-Fishing Canada From Coast to Coast to Coast
Written by 33 members of the Outdoors Writers of Canada
Edited by Robert H. Jones

Publisher: Johnson and Gorman
544 pages, 275 color photographs
ISBN 0-921835-56-6
$49.95

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.

Panic Rising- True Life Survivor Tales From The Great Outdoors
By Brett Nunn
Publisher: Sasquatch Books Trade
Paperback
230 pages
ISBN 1-57061-350-8
$16.95

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: &n bsp;

"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.

 

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