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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