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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.