This book is just an outstanding value. I remember when $40 was the going rate for the new high-end fly fishing/tying/entomology - related hard covers. Now we're up to $60. At under $20 and with the ideas this book encapsulates, it's a steal.
In less monetary terms...
With a serious tilt toward the on-edge tail water and spring creek fisherman, I do not think anyone from such a background could read "Fishing Small Flies" and not walk away feeling downright enlightened. Mr. Engle has embedded a rhythm to the book, candidly relating on-stream experiences at the beginning of each major topic that in themselves deliver a potent dose of small fly philosophy. The ensuing material is all the more palatable given his clear, concise, and down to earth style of writing.
I will confess I thought some of the topics were covered with unnecessary length. Perhaps having spent an inordinate amount of time nymphing throughout my fly fishing career, I found the time spent on nymph rigging to be overly long in duration. I have also spent plenty of time casting fruitlessly to rising fish and experimenting with a large array of slack-line casts, my education in this department being provided by many other articles of fishing literature. Of course, I also have to admit that even in these sections I probably found at least one or two informational nuggets that I had not learned previously.
Regardless of these minor hurdles, the knowledge imparted throughout the book is more than worth the price of admission. The anatomy of a small-fly river, spotting and observing fish, reading rise forms, freestyle nymphing, and the dynamics of the particular small-fly hatches - all of these topics had me staring wide-eyed off into space at the revelations they precipitated. Top it off with the concluding final chapter entitled "The Elements of Style", a fitting coda to this small-fly summalogica, and related in Ed's own freestyle prose, and you end up closing the cover feeling absolutely "chill" (as my generation would say - boomers substitute "hip").
The companion work, Tying Small Flies, serves as a fitting anthology of patterns with which to practice the techniques presented in this volume.
Knowing the audience for which this book is aimed, and what a multitude of trout water does not necessitate the use of small flies, I find it difficult to put it on a "must have" list for the fly fishing public. For those of the small-fly avant-garde, however, this book will surely serve as the definitive work on the subject for years to come.