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mayfly fishing books

Mayfly Fishing Books – From Nymphs to Spinners

The dance of the mayfly a time that sends trout into to a feeding frenzy. Provided you know what you are doing this is a chance to stalk some trophy trout either on a nymph or dry fly pattern. Hopefully you can find the right approach in one of our mayfly fishing books. 

The Best Mayfly Fishing Books

​Many anglers are confused by the different types of mayfly and their life cycles. The following list of mayfly fishing books can help demystify your local mayfly hatch. Another great resource on the mayfly is available on the troutnut website.

Whether you are looking to expand you fly tying skills or simply looking for the best information on how to increase your chances during a mayfly hatch we hope there is something here for you. We have tried to include something for everyone.

Mayflies: Top to Bottom - Shane Stalcup​

Mayflies"Top to the Bottom" by Shane Stalcup details a systematic approach to tying mayfly patterns. All of the necessary skills and materials are beautifully presented in clear step by step photos. Also included are some very dazzling photo's of the mayfly itself.

 There are separate sections on nymphs, emergers, adults, spinners and cripples. Each section walks you through how to construct each stage of the mayfly and what materials are necessary. Many of the patterns use CDC to aid in flotation and there are numerous winged patterns also. This is definitely a book for the fly tier and although it is very detailed it could do with a bit more material on fishing and selection of these patterns.

Western Mayfly Hatches Hafele & Hughes

​The second book from the heavyweight duo of Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes. Combining Hafele's aquatic entomology knowledge and Hughes fly fishing authorship has resulted in a very in-depth reference for the budding mayfly fisherman. Focused primarily on the hatches that happen in the Western states the authors have taken almost twenty years of research and arranged it in self contained sections that relate to each stage of the mayflies life.

For each stage of the hatch a full dressing is clearly displayed and described. The pages are not only devoted to patterns though, mayfly behavior and even "hatch ranking tables" are included. With 175 patterns included you should have pretty much ever base covered. This is one of the more complete mayfly fishing books available.

Nymphs, The Mayflies - Ernest Schwiebert

In "Nymphs, The Mayflies: The Major Species" Ernest Schwiebert amasses almost fifty years of research and practice in the art of nymphing mayfly patterns. This revised and updated edition expands on the original volume from 1973.

 Given that mayfly spend the majority of the their lives underwater knowing how to imitate this stage can arm you with the right knowledge to catch fish throughout the year not just at hatch time. Included are some light hearted anecdotes from some of the authors travels, something that adds a nice bit of humor to an otherwise very focused book.

Orvis Vest Pocket Guide to Mayflies - Dick Pobst

Yet another handy pocket guide from Orvis. The Orvis Vest Pocket Guide is a great companion reference to carry on your travels. It is split into two main sections: the Eastern and Western hatches of mayfly. This book is best as a bring along reference to identify the hatch in front of you. Correctly matching your fly pattern to the relevant is probably the biggest single step you can take in giving yourself the best possible chance when out fly fishing.

Mayflies - Ted Fauceglia

Packed full of beautiful images "Mayflies" clearly and concisely documents each stage of the mayflies life cycle. At the end of each chapter is the addition of a couple of patterns on what was previously discussed. The focus here is predominantly on the Eastern hatches of mayfly so it may not be for everyone. Ultimately the value of this book lies in the big glossy photo's and the finish of the materials used is top notch.

Matching Mayflies - Dave Hughes

Yet another very detailed and well written book from prolific fly fishing author Dave Hughes. Like most of the ​fishing books covered here Hughes details each life cycle stage of the mayfly and the patterns to suit it.  Hughes takes a somewhat simplistic approach to how he ties his patterns so if you are a very advanced tier you may not enjoy his methods. The book closes with what Hughes considers a "universal mayfly box" i.e a list of mayfly patterns that are useful to most anglers on the majority of waters in North America.

Mayflies, the Angler and the Trout                          - Fred L. Arbona Jr

Although "Mayflies, the Angler and the Trout is somewhat dated the information contained in it is just as valuable today as it was when first published. This book is now considered a modern classic on the subject of mayfly fishing and fly tying. The mayfly patterns are contributed by professional tier Mike Lawson.

This is a pretty large reference on the mayfly and how to correctly identify each species. A nice addition that a lot of other books fail to over is presentation. How best to present your flies in front of the trout can be the difference between lots of strikes and going home empty handed. Arbona covers such things as leader construction and the mechanics of a cleanly presented fly.

best fly fishing books for beginners

Best Fly Fishing Books for Beginners

Top 5 Best Fly Fishing Books For Beginners Reviewed

Starting out in fly fishing can be a daunting task. Below is our list of best fly fishing books for beginners. We have selected the best beginner fly fishing books to help you on your journey from beginner to competent fly fisher. Each of the books listed cover all of the basics to get you on your way and increase your skills. That being said no book is a substitute for practice or the help of an experienced angler.  Using a book to learn how to fly fish should be thought of as a supplement to good tuition rather than a substitute. 

Fly Fishing for Beginners - Chris Hansen

In Fly Fishing for Beginners Chris Hansen guides the reader through all of the basics required to start out on the right path. Hansen calls on his many years as a fly fishing instructor to give the beginner the best possible start.

The first section of the book is devoted to learning about fly fishing tackle and covers all you should need to know. From the essential like rods, reels, lines, leaders, flies and knots through to accessories and clothing and even waders and floating tubes. 

The ​next section covers fly casting on its own. The "12 tips to make the perfect cast" list would be perfect to read before seeking help from an experienced fly fisher as it would familiarize you with the fundamentals of fly casting.

The rest of the book is focused on ​how to catch fish once you have your tackle sorted and understand casting. Hansen doesn't just cover trout though he also lists panfish, small/large mouth bass and nothern pike.

The Orvis Guide to Beginngin Fly Fishing -Tom Rosenbauer

The Orvis Guide to Beginning Fly Fishing by Tom Rosenbauer contains 101 tips and techniques to get you started in fly fishing and easily deserves a place in our best fly fishing books for beginners. It's definitely aimed at the complete beginner, a more experienced fly fisher wouldn't get much value out of it. All the basics are stepped through in a very clearly written text. All elements of tackle like rod, reel, line and fly selection along with how to care for your tackle. There is even a section on saltwater fly fishing which quite a few books will tend to ignore. 

Fly Fishing for Dummies

Fly fishing for dummies is a pretty decent book for the complete novice. It covers all of the fundamentals in the usual lighthearted "for dummies" style. It aims to dispel the myths around fly fishing and that it is an art only for the gifted few.

With over 150 illustrations it takes a very practical hands on approve that will guide the reader through each of the fundamental elements required for fly fishing. Casting, fly selection, tackle and specific strategies for different fish are all clearly explained in an easy to understand manner. One of the best fly fishing books for beginners who don't want to get bogged down in a serious text that is hard to follow.

The Complete Book of Fly Fishing - Tom McNally

Tom McNally draws on almost 50 years of successful trout fishing to lay out in an easy to read manner how to start out in fly fishing. This book on fly fishing for beginners should be on everyone's reading list. It is highly regarding in trout fishing circles. Although it is a great introductory fly fishing book for beginners it contains great details on how to target specific types of fish using the best possible methods unique to them.

Fly Fishing: 2 in 1 Guide - Joe Steender

Laid out over two books the Fly Fishing: 2 in 1 Guide of 100 Tips on Fly Fishing by Joe Steender is an excellent resource for the budding fly fisherman. 

Book 1 lays a solid foundation in all the basics required to get you out fly fishing laid out in 50 tips. It covers all the usual basics on tackle choice and casting etc.

Book 2's 50 tips cover fly fishing for trout and salmon specifically. How to find trout/salmon and how best to fish for them. All in all a very well designed list of fishing tips.

river monsters

River Monsters

Most fishing books don't end up scaring their readers! In River Monsters Jeremy Wade takes us on a behind the scenes look at some of his adventures. Some of you will know the show from Animal Planet and will be familiar with some of the outlandish fisherman's tales that host Wade seeks out. On the show the time and effort(and endless waiting) that every fisherman is familiar with is down played due to the nature of film editing.

It this companion book to the show however we gain a deeper insight to the sometimes monumental effort involved in filming some of these fishing adventures. The near obsession level required to travel and film in these remotes parts of the world is not to be underestimated and Wade who is essentially a professional angle/traveler describes several incidents such as plane crashes in the jungle and arrests in Asia.

The sheer size of some of the fish and their almost monstrous looks is probably best experienced on the television series, however there is so much more detail and background information in the book that it is a fine companion to the show. River Monsters is not the usual fishing how-to although any keen angler will certainly be interested in the techniques employed to land these aquatic monsters. 

fly tying

Best Fly Tying Books – Our Top Picks Reviewed

​Welcome to our list of best fly tying books. Learning to tie your own flies can bring immense satisfaction.

Catching a fish on a fly of your own creation is certainly something special.

Here we list a diverse range of books on the subject, hopefully there is something that will suit your needs whether you are a beginner or advanced tier.

​15 Best Fly Tying Books for the Home Tier

The Fly Tying Bible by Peter Gathercole first published in 2003 is quickly becoming a modern classic. Listing one hundred popular and reliable trout and salmon patterns it would give any fly fisher a good platform from which to continue from.

The layout of this book is one of its major plus points, for each of the patterns the left hand page has a large photo and a text description of the pattern and on the right is the step by step instructions.

This book is not just for the beginner however as there is a nice mix of difficulty levels used throughout. All of the major styles of fly patterns are covered: dry, nymphs, wet, streamers and hairwings.

Definitely one of the best fly tying books to have on your bench.

25 Best Most Versatile Flies: Their Histories, Stories, & Step by Step Tying Photos by Al Ritt lists some of the most famous and enduring fly fishing patterns.

The history of each pattern is well cataloged and the photo's and instructions are clear and concise.

There's nothing inherently new in the book nor is there any super advanced techniques but it does offer a thorough grounding in some of the most used classic fly patterns. 

The Fly Tier's Benchside Reference is a huge voluminous body of work dedicated to the different techniques of fly tying.

It must be said from the outset that this is not a pattern book, it teaches technique. Spread across fifteen chapters practically every classical technique you could think of is covered be it wing cases, eyes, underbodies or tails.

There is also hook preparation, thread handling and weed guards, in fact there is so much in this book it may take the average tier years to get through it's four hundred and thirty pages and three thousand color photographs.  

If you are looking for an all encompassing reference in the skill of fly tying then this is a must have. Definitely as a reference this must be one of the best fly tying books every written.

Basic Fly Tying by Charlie Craven is a great introductory text for the aspiring fly tier. It sets out to teach correct technique from the beginning, giving the reader a thorough grounding and setting them up for long term success.

All of the fundamentals are covered including materials, tools and techniques. Craven builds on over thirty years of experience to guide the tier from simple basic patterns up to more complex.

Seventeen patterns are listed including the Brassie, Black Beauty, RS2, Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph, Copper John, Woolly Bugger, Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulator, Adams, Rusty Spinner, Parachute Blue-Winged Olive, X Comparadun, Royal Wulff, Humpy, and Goddard Caddis.

The main focus of those patterns would be for trout on streams and small rivers and there are some all time reliable classics included. For a beginner this one of the best fly tying books.

One of the first and probably most comprehensive books on midge patterns published.

Modern Midges profiles fifteen essential patterns and catalogs over a thousand. Just to be clear it server best as a visual reference for the experienced fly tier who can generally tie by sight without needing a step by step guide to follow.

Saying that such an exhaustive reference should cover any possible local midge hatch providing you can recreate them from the photo's you should be covered in basically any location and armed with the possibility to match the hatch.

 In Tying Nymphs: Tie the World's Best Nymphs With Speed, Ease, and Efficiency Randall Kaufmann teaches the reader how to tie twenty two patterns.

Armed with this knowledge the tier is then equipped to complete one hundred and twenty five patterns in total. The majority of nymph patterns can be quite easy to tie, however there are the more advanced patterns shown.

The most popular nymph patterns are detailed across  one hundred and eight hundred color photos including: mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, dragonflies, damselflies, midges and even leeches and scuds. Each chapter contains a nicely balanced blend of entomology and practical fishing techniques

101 Favorite Saltwater Flies: History, Tying Tips, and Fishing Strategies by David Klausmeyer is a wealth of information on tying saltwater flies.

Laid out in several distinct chapters it covers: attractor patterns, baitfish imitators and flat flies. Klausmeyer not only teaches you to master the classic patterns but also how to adapt them to your own particular fishing spot.

That said it is more of a book aimed at the beginner saltwater fly tier so if you are already very experienced it might be one to miss.

Tying Heritage Featherwing Streamers by Sharon E. Wright is one very niche specific book, namely tying the Carrie Stevens method of Rangeley-style trout streamers.

Beautifully laid out over nine chapters covering history, hooks, threads, adhesives, shoulders and Jungle Cock Cheeks, Rangeley-style wing assembly, black pearl, Maine traditions, classic featherwing patterns and then a full gallery of featherwing streamers.

These flies are incredibly impressive and tying them is not for the beginner. However,  the step-by-step approach can guide you through the majority of patterns and if you have some basic skills it will definitely help to build upon them.

The Art of Fly Tying by John Van Vliet is one of the best available beginners books for the aspiring fly tier. The topics covered in this book will give a thorough grounding in fly tying basics.

The initial chapter introduces some history on fly tying and then discusses aquatic foods. Next the reader is introduced to the basic tools and materials that they will need in order to progress.

Then we get to the basic techniques required for the majority of beginner and intermediate level patterns. Then we move onto each of the separate categories of fly patterns and how to tie them, included in a small catalog/list of each type.

This book is definitely a great resource for the budding fly tier and is packed full of clear concise steps and photos, one of the best fly tying books for beginners.

Emerging patterns try to imitate the change from one stage to another of a growing insect.

Recreating this exact state and how to best present them can be tricky , yet if tied correctly they can be killer patterns to have in your arsenal.

Uniquely this book comes with a semi-graphical table of contents and is certainly something that would be useful in all flying books.

Initially the materials and design of emerger patterns are discussed, hook shapes and lengths, materials that aid buoyancy such as CDC(Cul de Canard) and snowshoe hare feet. Next we are introduced to the basic tying techniques required such as dubbing, legs and usage of CDC.

Up next is how to tie shucks and sheaths and then we get into the various other types of attributes that can be recreated. All in all this is probably the best reference for emergers and definitely one of the best fly tying books on the subject.

John Barr is one of the most famous fly tiers to ever wield a bobbin holder, and "The Copper John" being one of the most successful patterns.

Barr details his methods and techniques on how to tie and fish each of his best patterns. One of the best fly fishing tying books of both beginner and intermediate level tiers the patterns listed here are definitely one that will give you a reasonable chance of catching.

Whilst other books may try to impress with the difficulty of the patterns and techniques, Barr is equipping you with reliable patterns and methods that will get results if used correctly. 

A somewhat specialist book on small fly patterns it covers mostly midges, micro caddis and micro scuds. This is definitely a book for tor experienced angler and is not a general fly tying introduction.

Very few tiers will tie on micro sized hooks and this is predominantly a text best suited to that specific niche. However the actual techniques in tying the majority of small fly patterns aren't that advanced as say the spey flies below, also the materials are generally available and inexpensive.

Fishing and casting small flies on light tackle is something that needs a lot of finesse and practice, armed with this book however you will have a better understanding of how to tie the patterns and what they are trying to imitate.  

Spey flies are the most classic of Scottish salmon flies. You can find them displayed usually in framed in bars and hotels all over the country, and are probably what the non-fishers view as "fishing flies".

Some of the most elegant and timeless patterns that can be tied they are for the most part seen as for master fly tiers only. In Spey Flies & How to Tie Them Bob Veverka gives a fascinating insight into the history and background o these winged marvels.

Spey, Dee, Don Eagle and Steelhead spey patterns are all covered. If you are really interested in learning all about these famous patterns the this could be the best fly tying books on the subject.

Another rather specialist book on our list Tying Foam Flies by Skip Morris was probably one of the first on the subject.

It has received mixed reviews and is probably best thought of as an introduction to tying with foam as there are only a limited number of patterns in the book.

The best fly tying books are those that cut through the fluff and give you all the relevant information you could need.

Wet Flies by Dave Hughes is arguably the all time best fly tying books on the subject of wet flies or soft hackled flies as they are sometimes know.

Dave has literally condensed a lifetime's worth of information on wet fly fishing into one easy to use encyclopedia on the subject.

He covers basically everything you may need to know in the subject from how subsurface insects behave through tying them and finally how to fish them effectively.

​Fly Tying Books

The majority of fly tying books can be broken down into two main types:

  • ​General Fly Pattern Books
  • ​Technique Specific

​The more general pattern books may or may not include instructions for the beginner and will normally cover a very broad range of different patterns of both wet and dry flies.

Just like most fly fishing books you really get the most out of them by putting the concepts and theories into practice by tying as many flies as possible.

If you are just starting out then it is perfectly natural for your first attempts to be less than perfect.

The more technique specific books will cover advanced concepts like the tying of very small nymphs or ​emerger patterns and the use of materials such as foam or other types of artificial products that can be used for creating bodies and wings such as Cul de Canard.

As with all kinds of fishing books when choosing make sure that it is an area of particular interest to you and own that you will most likely get a lot of use out of.

best fly fishing books

Best Fly Fishing Books – Our Top Picks Reviewed

Fly fishing that most noble of fishing art forms is also one of it's most complex, we would hope that within our best fly fishing books list you may find a way to reduce that complexity and take some of the guess work out of the hunt for that big fish when on the fly.

We hope to have covered a broad range of topics within fly fishing and that you will find something to suit your specific needs.

15 Best Fly Fishing Books

The little red book of fly fishing

In The Little Red Book Of Fly Fishing Deeter and Meyers share with the reader their wealth of knowledge of the art of fly fishing, and aim to simplify the often over complicated endeavor of fishing with flies.

The writing style is easy to follow and plain language used throughout, which means it probably something you may read over and over.

It is structured in about 240 concise tips which means that each one is easily looked up in the future without having to wade through large passages of text.  

Although I won't recommend it to someone with zero fly fishing experience if you are looking to improve from beginner to intermediate level fly fisher then this could well be one of the best references on the subject for you.

Definitely one of the best fly fishing books ever written and should be on the book shelf of every discerning fly fisher. 

Fifty More Places To Fish Before You Die

Fifty More Places To Fish Before You Die by Chris Santella as the name suggests is a follow up book in the series to the original fifty best.

Again Santella through the help of some of the best guides and journalists profiles fifty of the most jaw dropping and awe inspiring fly fishing destinations on the planet.

One of the best fly fishing books for your coffee table, it is filled with exceptionally photography and matching prose transporting the reader to each location.

From Alaska to Venezuela there is sure to be something to inspire everyone to travel a little more or plan that once in a lifetime trip. 

Guide To Fly Fishing Knots

Using the right knot for the right situation should be something that every fisherman aspires to, using the wrong knot however can have disastrous consequences for your line and tippet/leader.

The Guide To Fly Fishing Knots by Larry Notley covers 20 different knots in a clear and concise manner with easy to follow illustrations.

The step-by-step instructions cover everything you should need: lines to flies, joining lines, dropper knots, loop knots and yarn indicators.

Presented in a small pocket sized handy reference it should easily fit in your fishing jacket or tackle box and is definitely not something you would want to forget. 

The Orvis Fly-Fishing guide

Arguably one of the best fly fishing books regardless of whether you are a  beginner or expert , so good​ it should be on everyone's shelves.

This body of work has been around for over twenty years and will probably still be relevant in another twenty years. 

Covering all aspects of fly fishing it should be on everyone's shelf as a complete reference to the sport.

Reading Trout water

A completely revised version of the original "Reading the Water". Some of the complaints of the original were that the diagrams were unclear and that the quality of the photo's(black and white) was substandard.

In this new edition however we are treated to color photo's and a much better edit of the information and diagrams.

This is one of the best books about reading the water and although no book can guarantee success armed with the knowledge contained within surely you would be giving yourself a much better chance of landing that dream trout.

History of Fly-Fishing in fifty flies

The History of Fly Fishing recounts the evolution of the sport of fly fishing. From the earliest feathered hooks to the more advanced materials used today it gives the reader a fascinating insight as to how the art of fly fishing has progressed through the ages.

Fifty patterns have been chosen that not only display how the change in fly technology has evolved but also the equipment used to cast it and the techniques used to fish them.

The book is incredibly detailed and has numerous illustrations and really describes the flies clearly from a historical context.

Definitely something you can pick up and put down again at your leisure so something for the night stand perhaps ? One of the best books on fly fishing from a historical perspective.

Fly casting fundamentals

Lefty Kreh one of the greatest fly casting teachers of all time breaks down the complexity of fly casting, through teaching the principles of fly casting.

The book does not as such teach you to cast but armed with the correct casting principles can help you to self evaluate your own casting and as such improve it dramatically. 

You can find plenty of video's displaying Lefty's teaching techniques on Youtube that would serve as a great companion to this book. Without a doubt one of the best fly fishing books on casting a now legendary teacher.

Dynamic Nymphing

George Daniel takes us through the subtleties of the nymphing outlining a myriad of techniques from around the world. ​

One of the best books on fly fishing from a nymphing perspective.

A very in depth journey through the world of nymphing pretty much all bases are covered in Dynamic Nymphing: Tactics, Techniques, and Flies from Around the World.

The quality of the photography and material is second to none on the subject. For the North American reader some of the techniques will not square up with the traditional nymphing that you are used to, which means there is definitely new approaches and techniques to be learned here.

All in all a great resource on the subject for someone looking to increase their knowledge in this area.

Simple fly fishing

Tenkara is still a little known sub genre of fly fishing for trout although it has grown dramatically in recent years.

For those of you unfamiliar with the method it aims to distill fishing down to an extreme  of level of minimalism.

A small telescope rod with a fixed line size and a small leader and fly, nothing more! It originated in Japan and has made its way westward proving popular with those seeking a break from all of the modern gear and paraphernalia associated with fly fishing.

Although the book is probably not suited to a beginner it still makes for a very interesting read.

I've never met an idiot on the river

Henry Winkler aka "The Fonz" isn't someone who you might expect to find in a list of best fly fishing books, however he skillfully recounts what his journey from beginner to experienced fly fisher has been like and how he has shared his passion with his family.

Probably one of the best fishing books ever written in terms of entertainment.

 A different read yet still a lot any fly fisherman can relate to.

Orvis Guide to prospecting trout

Not your typical fly fishing instructional book, Rosenbauer goes a step above everything else.

In The Orvis Guide to Prospecting Trout the author not only explains in great detail how and why fish move and feed through a river but also how we can you that to our advantage even when there is no great hatch on.

Rosenbauer clearly explains how fish move through a river and how it differs between river types. Each type of fly is given its own chapter and in great detail explains how and when to use them.

This book is not the usual all inclusive instructional, instead it is very focused on one thing, finding and catching trout in the most efficient manner.

Probably not for absolute beginners but if you are looking to take your game up a notch then definitely give it a try.

Habits of rivers

The Habits of Rivers: Reflections On Trout Streams and Fly Fishing by Ted Leeson is not another instructional or how to, instead the author takes you spiritual journey through nature.

Part fishing experiences part introspection Leeson shows us that it is not just the catching that matters rather the sight, sounds and his own perceptions of the outside world as he goes about the "activity" of fishing.

The draw of the rivers and the pursuit of the perfect day are some of the things that Leeson tries to explain, whilst still entertaining the reader with his humorous collect of essays.

Small stream fishing

Many trout fishermen are choosing to forgo the crowded larger and better know rivers throughout North America to experience the joys of smaller rivers and streams.

The Orvis Guide to Small Rivers and Streams by Tom Rosenbauer is a great resource for both finding and fishing these unspoiled stretches of flowing water.  

The book divulges all of the secrets of small stream trout and how to best approach fishing for them. Well written and nicely illustrated it's definitely something that might motivate you to seek out these hidden gems.


The second book in our list of best fly fishing books that exclusively focuses on the tenkara approach is Tenkara: Radically Simple, Ultralight Fly Fishing written by Kevin Kelleher.

Spread over fifteen chapters the author introduces the Tenkara method. Covering small streams, larger water and all of the rigging required with line and leader.

Tenkara has enamored itself with those looking to ditch the large amounts of gear associated with modern fly fishing and distill it back down to a more basic form.

Due to the minimal and compact nature of the gear required for Tenkara it has also been heavily favoured by those on backpacking tours as the gear is quite light and easily packed onto a backpack.

Fly Fishing Books

best fishing books

Best Fishing Books – Our Top Picks Reviewed

​For any fisherman out there there's nothing that can beat sneaking a few hours at your favorite spot or a weekend trip somewhere new.

However, if you're stuck indoors for a time or just want a nice read for relaxing in the evening or maybe you need a present for that fisherman in your life why not try something from our best fishing books list?

We have covered a broad range of subjects from the classics works, fly-tying, sea fishing and even a coffee table type book we  are sure there is something for everyone and hopefully it can help you find the best books on fishing for your needs.

Best Fishing Books

the total fishing manual

First on our list of best fishing books is The Total Fishing Manual(Field and Stream): 317 Essential Fishing Skills .

​Brought to you by the writers and editors from Field & Stream magazine and jammed with 317 essential fishing skills this is a must have general reference for any fisherman either just starting out or with a few  years of experience.

Laid out in a number(317) of concise tips The Total Fishing Manual covers quite a bit of the basics as a handy reference.

However, it is predominantly written with the freshwater/fly fisher in mind and is pretty thin on saltwater fishing, for example it only covers two saltwater fish(Red Drum and Striped Bass).

That said it does make a perfect gift as reference for the beginning angler and could definitely save someone a lot of time trying to find all of the information online. 

a river runs through it

A classic of twentieth century American literature Norman MacLean's A River Runs Through was the author's first book published in 1976, strangely enough it wasn't until at age 70 did the retired English professor first started to write.

A River Runs through it chronicles the author's younger life in Montana. A River Runs Through it was also the basis for a major movie starring Brad Pitt.

One of the ​finest fishing books that's not an instructional or fishing reference and one of the most famous literary books where fishing plays a major part of the theme. 

fisherman's ultimate knot guide

The Fisherman's Ultimate Knot Guide is a handy little aid to carry in your pocket or tackle box. It comes with directions for ten of the best knots you will ever need for the majority of your fishing life.

Each knot is clearly shown in a manner that is easy to follow and comes with a recommended usage for each knot type. It is available as either 3 individual or ring bound cards.

The knots covered are: Nail Knot, Blood Knot, Dropper Loop, Surgeon's End Loop, Surgeon's Knot, Improved Clinch, Uni Knot, Palomar Knot, Double Uni Knot and Perfection Loop.

Although it's not an actual book on fishing we thought to include in our list of best fishing books as it could make a great little thoughtful present for the fisherman in your life.

Moby Dick

​Herman Melville's literary masterpiece of Captain Ahab's all consuming obsession to slay the white whale who on a previous journey had bitten off Ahab's leg at the knee.

Partly drawn from his own experience on whaling ships in the early nineteenth century the novel is told by sailor Ishmael aboard Ahab's ship the Pequod.  

One of the most icon books ever written it should be one everyone's reading list.

Fifty places to fish before you die

Fifty Places to Fish Before You Die beautifully lists some of the most scenic places to fly fish in the world and can stand up to some of the best coffee table style books out there thanks to it's stunning photography.

Containing fifty destinations from all across the globe and a huge array of different fish species of all shapes and sizes this book is truly an inspiration to the average fly fisher and has a deserved place in our list of ​ fishing books. 

The true beauty and awe inspiring scenery of each of the fifty locations is perfectly captured by the author down to the smallest detail.

Double whammy

Although not quite a fishing book Double Whammy is a satirical crime romp which tells the story of R.J. Decker a trailer park resident and  private investigator that is hired to proof the guilt of TV host Dickie Lockhart who cheats his way to a small fortune in local bass fishing tournaments in Florida.

It chronicles Decker's adventures and a motley crew of crazy individuals who find themselves in some bizarre scenario's.

Not the usual kind of book you would find on a best fishing books list but it's certainly entertaining.

The longest silence

The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing by Thomas McGuane contains a collection of thirty three fishing essays spanning some thirty years that feature a varied cast of passionate anglers.

McGuane guides the reader through the world of fishing via a very introspective tone. Every angler can relate in some ways to the long time(silences) spent between catches lost in nothing but nature and fresh air with only your own thoughts for company.

With its essay format this is a book you can put down and pick up again at your leisure without the pressure of "finishing" it.

It finds a deserved place on our list as every fisherman can in some way relate to the madness of not catching as Thomas McGuane describes so well.

Orvis fly-fishing guide

A revised color edition of the great Orvis classic fishing guide the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide has been the go to book for over twenty years for thousands of fly fishers the world over.

This big two hundred and fifty page plus book is covers all the angles required for success in fly fishing.

The first six chapters cover the fundamentals of fly rods and line sizes, reels and lines, leaders and knots and how to cast with the  majority of the remainder of the book focusing on fly selection fly fishing tactics and there is even a small chapter on salt water fly fishing.

This book is a great catch all for anyone starting out "on the fly". 

working on the edge

Working On The Edge by Spike Walker gives a fascinating insight into dangerous world of King crab fishing in the freezing Alaskan waters.

Walker gives a tense account of the 1981 fall season considered the gold rush era of the Alaskan commercial crab fishing fleet.

A very vivid portrayal of the at times dangerous daily grind aboard the deck of a crab boat Walker brings you along on a journey as he starts out as a greenhorn and then to more experienced crabber.

A great read that is well worth it!

the fly-tying bible

The Fly Tying Bible by Peter Gathercole covers all the classic salmon and trout flies along with some more modern in a big well laid out book that has almost six hundred photo's.

The first twenty five introductory or so pages cover some of the basics of fly tying, the next five chapters focus on Dry flies, Nymphs and Bugs, Wet Flies, Streamers and then Hairwings.

As an instructional reference text the layout of the book is superb. For each fly that's described a wealth of information is provided along with step-by-step color photos of the process of tying it.

Each page is annotated with additional information about the fly and it's usage, that includes fish species, introduction, difficulty degree, and clearly written instructions of the tying and a large details photo of the finished pattern.

If you are looking for a great reference that will keep you busy for many's an evening then this just might be it.

all fishermen are liars

All Fishermen are Liars by John Gierach describes trout and salmon fly fishing in North America. Gierach recounts several of his stories from a life spent fishing that borders on the obsessive.​

Laid out in twenty two essays Gierach describes the pursuit of the perfect fishing day down to a tee. The writhing style is highly descriptive right down to rod and fly selection in the different scenario's the author finds himself in.

However, if you have owned previous books by the author you may be a little disappointed to find that some of the stories contained in All Fishermen Are Liars have been repeated in previous publications. 

handbook of hatches

The Handbook of Hatches by Dave Hughes is one of the best introductory texts on the subject ever written.

The author gives a detailed insight into insect hatches and how to match your fly selection to greatly increase your chances of a catch.

Whilst the subject of trout entomology could become quite complex the author describes everything from a layman's perspective.

All of the major hatches are covered and how to fish each one to match the water conditions including nymphs.

If there is one negative point it's that it is written predominantly from the perspective of someone who fishes in the western side of North America.

However it is still a great reference on the subject matter and any avid fly fisher should spend some time learning about hatches and how to fish them. 

the old man and the sea

The Old Man and The Sea is arguably Ernest Hemingway most defining books and lead directly to him winning the Nobel Prize in 1954.

It tells the tale of one man struggle against a giant Marlin way out in the Gulf Stream.

A lot of people may already have read The Old Man and the Sea but it still deserves a place on our list of best fishing books.

curtis creek manifesto

Curtis Creek Manifesto: A Fully Illustrated Guide to the Strategy, Finesse, Tactics and Paraphernalia of Fly Fishing by Sheridan Anderson is one of the best fly fishing books that focuses on the beginner fly fisher. 

Starting in fly fishing can be extremely daunting and the author has tackled the subject using an extremely well laid out, simple to follow straight-forward approach.

The presentation is in a cartoon like format so for the younger fisher starting out it may be a great choice so as to keep the attention of the reader as opposed to some mammoth boring text.

All of the necessary topics are covered: casting, equipment, catching, hooking and landing, the different fishing styles and how to read streams.

If there is one drawback however it's that the book was written in the late 70's so some of the equipment would be outdated today, saying that all of the basic techniques that are described will still be relevant.

peterson field guide to freshwater fishes

With nearly a thousand species of fish in North America trying to identify them could be a daunting task.

In the Peterson Field Guide To Freshwater Fishes the authors have made that task a lot easier. 

The text describes where each species is likely to be found via a series of maps and how to tell differences between them, which can be quite subtle at times particularly for small bait fish.

The ichthyological world is varied and fascinating and the authors do a great job on the subject.

All in all a great reference for fish species however it's focus is on North America and if that is not your focus then there are others texts available that might be more suitable.

ll bean ultimate book of fly fishing

L.L Bean Ultimate Book of Fly Fishing by Macauley Lord is a great resource for both novice and intermediate fly fishers.

It is has clear excellent illustrations and clear descriptions used throughout and a wealth of background information for the subjects covered.

The book is spread out into three general sections: fly fishing, fly casting and fly tying. However I'm not that it serves the beginner as best it could, generally a beginner fly fisher is not going to tie their own flies so devoting a third of the book to it may have been a bit overkill.

Saying that it does serve as a general guide or introduction to all but the most advanced angler.

Fishing Books

​Fishing books come in all shapes and sizes and there are literally thousands that have been published over the past 50 years with many of which are still just as relevant today as they were when published.

That being said some books are outdated and this is normally due to changing in fishing equipment and how the materials and technologies that go into making them have advanced down through the years.

Regardless of the tackle used most techniques will be timeless.

Not all books on fishing are about techniques or tactics there are many classic texts that use fishing to set the scene but ultimately they are more a comment on the human condition than instruction.

We hope our list can help you to find some fishing books that make for a great read in front of a nice warm fire.