Required Winter Reading--The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies

January 20, 2018

Fly fishing is a stream-side journey as much as it is a journey in time.  Winter brings with it both bench-time and book time, allowing us to explore more deeply our own connections with the heritage of our sport that has been passed down from previous generations and flows across the country in ever expanding concentric circles emanating from epicenters like the Beaverkill, the Yellowstone, and the Au Sable.


The Catskills are a tremendous distance from the mountains of Wyoming, but I know that I have a connection to their storied waters nonetheless.  When I choose a well-hackled royal coachman from my fly box I can see the influences of fly fishing's greatest tiers, designers, and innovators woven along with red floss and golden pheasant tippets.


The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies is quite an understatement.  Ian Whitelaw, with gorgeous illustrations by Julie Spyropoulos, take you on a journey that traverses both sides of the Atlantic as he describes the draw of man to water and our ceaseless efforts to discover the denizens of that unseen world through concoctions of wood, metal, feathers, thread, tinsel, plastic, and foam.  Fifty Flies includes icons of the sport like the Quill Gordon and the Gray Wulff flies along with wonderful anecdotes about their creators as well as lessor known flies that have faded from view in today's explosion of creative fly tying.  One of my favorite flies, the black gnat, is thoroughly explored with threads from the fly extending from vice to other aspects of the sport.



The beauty of The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies is the connection it gives you to fly fishing, not when you're at home in the depths of winter, but when you open your fly box stream-side looking for the next perfect fly (surely the next pattern will work, right?) and feel the faint tug of history right in the palm of your hand.  By the same token there is no better book to hunker down with as the mercury struggles to break-even with zero and snow continues to pile higher and higher.


Want to spend some of your winter hours with a book that inspires you to return to the stream?  Check out Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation


You can contact Brad at the following:


Twitter- conservationangler@conservetrout


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