After last week’s completely useless Top Ten Movies list, I thought I’d follow it up with a moderately more useful Top Ten Books list. My guideline for creating the list was fairly simple: list ten fly fishing books, both fiction and nonfiction, that have either proven the most useful or the most entertaining/meaningful for me personally. No attempt at objectivity here. Just my very subjective opinion. They are listed in no particular order, and I’d hate to be forced to actually rank them. I love them all.
- Trout Bum by John Gierach: This is the book that introduced me to the rich world of fly fishing literature out there. Since reading this one, I’ve devoured all of Gierach’s other fly fishing books, even the ones on fly tying, bamboo rods and fishing in the high country.
- Essential Trout Flies by Dave Hughes: I have used this book as the essential reference for filling my fly boxes for many years. Once you know the basics of fly tying, this is probably the only book you’ll ever absolutely need for trout flies, which means it has a wonderfully accurate title. Of course, you’ll probably want more, but you won’t need them.
- Fly Fishing the Rocky Mountain Backcountry by Rich Osthoff: I know a lot of people hate this book because so many backcountry waters are “outed”, but this book started a fire in me that’s still burning strong. This book is the source of several of my “bucket list” trips, and I still love picking it up and dreaming about heading into the Rockies with my fly rod and backpack.
- A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean: No comments needed really. Some of the best writing in any genre, anywhere.
- Fly Fishing for Bass Handbook by Dave Whitlock: I learned to fly fish from this book. My brother picked up a copy a long time ago at a book fair while he was in elementary school. We used it to teach ourselves to fly cast, and we caught our first bluegill and bass on a fly rod using it as a guide. Led eventually to our pursuit of trout.
- Good Flies: Favorite Trout Patterns and How They Got That Way by John Gierach: One of the coolest fly tying books out there. Probably the only one I can have fun just reading through from front to back. Like the title suggests, it chronicles Geirach’s favorite trout flies and provides recipes for tying them. Along the way, he spices things up with his usual wit and stories.
- Jerusalem Creek: Fly Fishing through Driftless Country by Ted Leeson: Leeson is a fantastic writer. I also enjoyed his The Habit of Rivers and Inventing Montana, but Jerusalem Creek is my favorite. I’m not really sure why. His descriptions of the Driftless Region are evocative. It just has the right feel to it.
- Trout Magic by Rober Traver: Classic writing on fly fishing from a master writer. Another book of wonderful essays.
- Curtis Creek Manifesto by Sheridan Anderson: I came to this book late, but I loved it! Such an unusual and wonderful book! It’s like a fly fishing comic book, and the surprising thing is, it’s probably the best all-around instruction on becoming a fly fisher anywhere around. Everyone should have a copy.
- The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing by Thomas McGuane: I have a love/hate relationship with McGuane’s writing. I haven’t enjoyed most of his fiction. Well, I guess that’s not true. I sort of like it in the same way that I sometimes like movies. You know the kind, I’m sure. You have to admit that, objectively speaking, it’s good, but you have this nagging sense that something important is missing. I can’t quite put my finger on it with McGuane’s writing. But The Longest Silence is different. It’s yet another book of essays, and they’re almost all transcendentally spectacular. I have enjoyed them more and more in subsequent readings.
Honorable Mentions: The River Why, any of Gierach’s books of essays, Fishless Days, Angling Nights, Trout Madness, Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Fly-Fishing for Bonefish, Cowboy Trout: Western Fly Fishing As If It Matters, Fishing Small Flies, Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth, The Art of Tying the Bass Fly.
Obviously not doing much fishing right now, which is why I’ve been posting this drivel. Hopefully someone will find it useful, but I’d rather be reporting about fishing trips. Scouted a local small stream that looks promising as a quick place to wade with a fly rod once it warms up a bit, and I’ve got a few ponds on my radar that I plan to check out once the bass and bluegills thaw out. I’d like to do some crappie fishing, but haven’t found the time yet. I hear they’ve been biting well if you know the right spots. Anyone been doing any fishing lately?