Home » Fly Fishing Books, part 4

Fly Fishing Books, part 4

“What are you reading these days?”

I ask that question at work, of family, and to folks that I interact with in the fly fishing community. It might come across as nosy or weird, but I am truly interested in what people are interested in. What we read, and the rationale behind it, is fascinating. Desiring some specific knowledge makes the most sense. Entertainment is as good of a reason as any. Morbid curiosity works, too. Books allow you scratch all of those itches, and more – even in the world of fly fishing.

If you fly fish, you can get pretty much anything and everything that you need from the internet or talking to people. But if you rely on just those two things, you’re missing out on some really beneficial stuff.  You can learn, be amused, and see why those people fish that way. To be honest, I’ve read and bought fly fishing books for all of those reasons and more.

While I don’t break down my recommendations by those lines, I have tried to offer up a couple of types of books. As I’ve done for all of the entries in my “Fly Fishing Books” series, I’ve spread the selections over three rough categories:

  • Guide (regional, site specific)
  • Technical (methods, locations, fly tying)
  • Literature (novels, biographies, history)

Check out one kind of each book, why I suggest it, and a bonus read below. And follow the links in the headings to get a copy for yourself!


Guide:   Flyfisher’s Guide to New England

If you live in New England or are going to be doing any travelling in the Northeast, this is a good book to have. While this particular Flyfisher’s Guide doesn’t go into the great depth that some of the previous offerings in the series have, it does a good job providing a broad overview of the fisheries found in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont,  and Massachusetts. Rhode Island and Connecticut don’t get included, but there are other books in this series that cover those states. In this day and age, when almost every up-to-date detail of note is online, a book like this whets your appetite for digging in and setting out.

Technical: The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

Now, Steve and Dave will probably shake their heads when they see that I’ve put their book in the “technical” category. They desire to cater to the fly fishing every man, and are so unpretentious that they don’t even take shots at pretentious anglers! All that to say, the quick and easily digestible “Book of Lists” has some real, good knowledge for anglers of every level. The content is accessible for beginners, but will certainly get advanced fly fishers thinking about how and why they do what they do. If you at all enjoy 2 Guys and a River, you’ll like their first book on fishing.

Literature: Spring Creek

Nick Lyons might be most known for the publishing platform that bears his name. This book proves that he knows good fly fishing writing; this book is his own excellent fly fishing writing. It is a story, it is a guide, it is technique. More than all of that, it is about people, places, and things. Central to all of it is a Montana spring creek. Spending time on a river is one thing, but spending time on a spring creek is another. The water is different. The fish are different. Lyons captures this experience and relates it all in such a way that you’ll read this book more than once.

Bonus:   CVTU’s Favorite Flies

In 2006, Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited released a small, spiral-bound book that detailed how to tie 53 different flies. The collection came from years’ worth of newsletters, and represent flies honed on streams such as the Yellow Breeches, Big Spring, and the Letort. If you are aware of those waters, you’ll know that these are flies that are worth tying. More than that, these flies were submitted by the men and women who make up a fantastic TU chapter. The geographical locations featured in this little book might not be relevant to you. But what it represents should. Talk to a local TU chapter, fly shop, or  angling club. Groups of anglers love to record things, and there is a good chance that you’ll be able to find something akin to this book where you fish.


Want some more book ideas?


  1. Matthew, Thanks for commenting on my recent blog post. I discovered your blog and will gladly add it to my blogroll (which ensures that I stay in contact). I enjoyed your 4-part series on fly-fishing books and am pleased that this literature is being kept alive. I, too, have published books on the subject, with a focus on the waters of NY, PA and VA using your criteria of “guide/how-to/and literary narrative” in a blend that seems appealing to my small but enthusiastic readership. If you contact me, I’d be happy to send a title gratis, as I’d like the spread the word on current books before my new one appears in March. Meanwhile, thanks again, and keep up the good work here at Casting Across.

  2. As a voracious reader of fly fishing books, I’m first of all glad you have connected with one of my favorites, Walt Franklin. Another blogger and awesome fly tyer and video maker is Ralph Long. (Ralph’s Flybox) Ralph’s books are some of my absolute favorites and you can’t go wrong with any of them. I just started on recommendation Notes from the San Juans by Stevem Meyers. So far it hasn’t disappointed. Some many books and so little time.

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