Category Archives for "Fly Fishing"

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.

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