Top critical review
It's all right but a bit skimpy on essentials
on 24 May 2014
I bought this book after quite a lay-off from tying. I thought I could do with a refresher course on basic techniques. I know the author has a big reputation in the flydressing world and the reviews were good so I bought this one.
It does a fair job but for me the balance is wrong. Bear in mind this is a pretty small format book. It has 4 pages on tools and materials, 31 pages on core techniques, and the main part of the book of 203 pages on tying specific patterns.
I was disappointed that the discussion on tools and materials was so brief. Likewise, to run over the basic techniques in a small format book like this including photographs and to only give it 31 pages made me feel we were missing out a lot of the detailed instruction that novices need. The use of the dubbing tool is cursory for example, and really not very clear for a novice. Instructions on using the whip finish knot relied on the person buying a tool to do it! But if you buy a tool, you get instructions with it. What happened to the use of hands and fingers?
The result is a very basic and not sufficiently detailed overview of tools and materials, a rather more detailed but still disappointing overview of some techniques, followed by a long list of flies you can tie. The truth is if more time is spent learning techniques and materials then you can get a very cheap catalogue of fly "recipes" and construct them using the techniques you already have learned. You can even pick up patterns from forums and anywhere else you fancy.
Maybe I was spoiled because I had already read the excellent Jacqueline Wakeford's "Fly Tying Techniques." This is a truly masterful work and gets the balance completely right in my view. It is a large book, well photographed, with step by step detailed instructions on how to master each technique without worrying about lists of patterns and for me this is exactly right. Sadly it is out of print now. Also there are numerous videos online which demonstrate techniques with greater clarity than most books can do.
Maybe I'm being a bit harsh and this is not a bad book, I just wish it had been better on materials, tools, and technique at the expense of going through pattern after pattern for so long.