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An introductory text
on 2 July 2013
The book aims to present an overview of the major patterns used for UK still-water fly fishing. In this way, the books departs from previous British and Irish fly pattern books (C Jardine's Sotheby's guide to fly fishing, Headley's trout and salmon flies, O'Reily's trout and Salmon Flies, Malone's Irish Trout Flies) by focusing exclusively on the British still-water trout scene.
It follows a logical structure and presents the major patterns in the traditional design category of nymphs, dry, lures and wet flies. The flies are tied in consistent manner and are very well tied. The photographs of the flies are fine but much higher quality does exist in other printed publications. But the fly photos are still clear and informative.
The major problem with the book, in my opinion, and which I think the previous reviewer has identified, is that the book covers a lot of old ground which can be traced in previous books, especially John Roberts New Dictionary of Trout Flies and Bob Church series of fly pattern books. Most of the patterns the author lists are traditional patterns and these are located in the previously mentioned texts, amongst others. There are, of course, some new patterns listed, such as the Cruncher, the Blob, Fritz lures and Nomad. The book's protocol of listing and showing (photos) of original designs only means many of the popular variants of these patterns are not seen (although the books will make reference to possible variants). For example, a claret dabbler (p.113) is shown without pictures of the Golden olive and Green Dabblers which are used as often as the claret version. Indeed, the golden olive dabbler was the original dabbler. The issue is that the newcomer is left to wonder what "Golden Olive" shades looks like and will be forced towards another text for clarification. Another example is the Bumble series.
Generally, we do not gain a visualization and understanding of the major variants of these patterns which are currently very popular. In a way, many of these flies are concepts or designs (crunchers, dabblers, sedgehogs) which have spawned their own variants with sometimes subtle but important differences. As such, the author has overlooked a most contemporary feature of British still-water fly tying - the constant development of existing themes and patterns, especially through new materials and the influence of competition anglers. If you consult M O-Farrell's book you will see a different style altogether.
So the book is a fair synthesis of the British still-water pattern variety - with some new patterns. This therefore presents a very good introductory overview to a newcomer to the sport. If, however, you are an experienced fly tier who has been grounded in the fly tying literature, you may find this less informative and useful. Although it may be still be pleasing to own. This is the case for myself.