Who doesn't know what is?
The author, Dave Hughes, ruminating as to whether the addition of a new fly that caused him to exceed the capacity of his beloved single small stream box is or isn't beneficial.
Seeing that this is how Trout from Small Streams ends, the reader is left pondering a question that takes on an almost existential significance.
I don't know if that's good or bad.
This time it's me, the reviewer, wondering if this fly fishing business doesn't tend to become just a bit heavier than it ought to or needs to be. Or perhaps I'm just reacting to the devilish complexity of it all...
Anyway, Hughes has written a generally pleasant, if at times overly weighty tome on the particular attractions of smallish fish in modest waters. In a competitive world where, more often than not, size really does matter, there's something refreshingly counterintuitive about this.
While the title, "Trout from Small Streams" suggests that the fish have the center stage, in fact, they are of secondary importance; the book is really an exposition of intricate technique as to how to catch them. At times this can become quite esoteric as in the following discussions of leaders: "Next in importance are spare tippet spools in 3X, 4X, 5X, and 6X, along with a couple of store-bought leaders 7 ½ feet long tapered to 3X. That gives me the options of fishing a stout 3X leader about length of the rod I carry, for size 8 and 10 flies, or, far more often, adding a 2-foot tippet of 4X and fishing a leader just that much longer than the rod I use on small streams, for size 12 and 14 flies".
Sometimes Hughes gets a bit carried away as in this description of experimenting with a simple yarn indicator for nymph fishing, "I merely stripped a few feet of line from the reel, drew it out beyond the rod tip, held the hook while I danced a bit of line into the air above the gravel, like a snake charmer elevates a cobra, then flicked the rod towards the upstream end of the pool and let the fly go at the same time".
If, at this moment, you find yourself with bated breath on the edge of your chair, then you can be sure this book's for you.