This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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.