A few of my favourite fly fishing books By Stevie Munn
Fly fishing like most country pursuits is so much more than just doing it, us addicts simply live and breath our sport and for me fly fishing is so much more than simply getting out and casting a line on a shinning river or majestic Lough, though that’s one of the most pleasurable things in life. So this month I have decided to give you a list of some of my favourite fly fishing books, that will give you something to do, if the river is in flood or the wind is to strong for the Lough, something which has happened a lot at the time of writing. I know there is countless books that have been written on angling and many are truly excellent, I am sorry if I have not mentioned your personal favourite, I may have simply left it out as I may not have read it yet . I could myself maybe list 50 books that I love or that have bought, but I am going to list just five that I could not do without. These are all books that I have read and reread. They are for me great works of genius. My Famous Five.
The first book I would buy if I wanted to start a fly fishing library would be, A fly Fishers Life By Charles Ritz . This masterpiece was bought to me one Christmas by wife Jenette many years ago and I have to say I am not even sure how many times I have read it .The subtitle is" The Art and Mechanics of Fly Fishing. And there is quite a lot of the book about fly casting in which Ritz was a master, but for me the best thing is the stories in the book where Ritz recalls some of his experiences, just fantastic. Monsieur Charles Ritz comes from the famous hotelier dynasty he was Swiss; although he also carried dual US nationality for a while, having served in the American army during WW1.The book is a fantastic read from a bygone age with photos also of giant Swedish river Em sea trout, Norwegian Alta salmon (49 lb.), and many others of historic interest. There are some useful 'how to do it' parts as well. I found his P.P.P. leader tapers very useful, they work just as well today. There are several editions of the book; as more chapters were added over the years. I have the final 1972 version (reprinted 1977 & 1996). It's a 'must' for any angling library exceptional.
The Actor Bernard Venables, Angling Times said: "Once in a while, in a very long while indeed, it becomes the duty of the reviewer of angling books to recognise the coming of a truly outstanding book on angling, to do so with the certain feeling that here is a book that takes its place among the few outstanding books of all time. . . Such a book is A Fly Fisher's Life by Charles Ritz . . . This outstanding book is filled with splendid stuff . . . A great book by a great angler.' So that’s my first choice.
The next book I want to mention and I should now perhaps say these books don’t come in any pecking order as I truly adore them all is . The Essential G.E.M Skues, edited by Kennetth Robson . This book is a compilation of some of the great mans work. My father George always talked about Skues when I was a child fly fishing in the 1970s and 80s, I think he liked that he was a nonconformist so I have always had a fondest for him. George Edward Mackenzie Skues was born 13th August 1858, and died 9th August 1949 and around 100 years ago Skues was nymph fishing for brown trout on the chalk streams of England. Skues without any doubt, one of the greatest trout fly fishermen of all time, and has many angling books to his credit but in 1910 he started some controversy with his book, Minor Tactics.
The book’s title seems almost apologetic and the book is dedicated to ‘'my friend the dry-fly purist, and to my enemies, if I have any’’, this was most likely directed at the great dry fly man of the time and another hero of mine, Halford. The reason I have put this book in as its one that someone who is not a student of Skues can get to know his writings quickly. Kennetth Robson refers to him as the “Father of the Nymph” but reminds us that “he was an expert in every aspect of fly fishing including entomology, fly dressing and fly patterns, fly fishing techniques, methods and tactics.” A must have book get to know Skues.
Number three is a book by John Goddard called Reflections of A Game Fisher. One of the reasons I have listed a Goddard book is that he had a massive influence on me while I was growing up after I watched a program called the Educated trout and also looking at his book many times which he done with his friend Brian Clarke, Trout Fly Recognition. I had the pleasure of meeting John a few times before he sadly past away in 2012 . The first time I met him was while I was giving demonstrations at the British fly fair and found him to be a true gentleman and this book is a great read.
The next book I want to give a mention to is, Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing by American writer John Gierach. I was first introduced the this mans words by an old mate of mine called Dave Heavers who owns the English company Tackle Bargains, we used to work together travelling from country show to country show, selling tackle many years ago and fishing in-between for a number of years all over England, Scotland and Wales. It was during this time Dave gave me my first Gierach book, Trout Bum, I think Dave was trying to tell me something. Anyway all Gierach books are great though Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing is my favourite, humorous, often profound. We're introduced to a lively group of fishing mates, some local "experts" using the term very loosely and even an ex-girlfriend, along the way. Thoughtful, evocative, and ironic, he shares insights on mayflies and men, fishing and sport, life and love, and the meaning or meaninglessness of it all. All great stuff . I find his writing irresistible.
Ok next it has to be by an Irish fishing legend TC Kingsmill Moore who wrote the classic angling book. ‘A Man May Fish’ a book by the way all fly anglers should read, in my humble opinion and which was described by another fly fishing legend the late Hugh Falkus as the greatest book on sea trout fishing and one of his top 20 angling books. High praise indeed. TC Kingsmill Moore was a distinguished judge of the Irish High Court and Supreme Court and fished the Irish rivers and loughs for over 50 years. Born in Dublin in 1893 he died there in 1979 aged 85, he lives on not only in the words of his great book but in his great fly patterns which have helped shape Irish lough flies, his blends and shades of colours in the hackles and furs gave his flies’ translucency, which is perhaps the quintessential essence of the Irish lough style fly patterns and Kingsmill Moore bumbles and these variants still ride the waves. This book is simply a must for the Irish Game Angler.
So that’s my top five reads, though I must again state it was quite hard to leave out some great titles, wait !! maybe I will rethink that, no that’s for another day, do yourself a favour read these books.
Fishing Matters Game Angling Consultant Stevie Munn works full time as a fishing guide, writer and qualified game angling instructor in fly casting and fly tying, he has also appeared in many angling books, magazines and DVDs and gives casting demonstrations at angling events all over the world. He has fished many places in the world and grew up fishing on rivers and loughs of Ireland where he often guides. He runs teaching courses in Ireland and host groups to fish in BC Canada, Norway, Argentina and other parts of the world. You can contact him via email firstname.lastname@example.org and for more information visit www.anglingclassics.co.uk