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What in the (Fly Fishing) World are People Reading?

If you’ve spent any time on Casting Across, you know that I am a fan of fly fishing books. Furthermore, I advocate anglers spend some time reading. You learn how to fish, where to fish, and sometimes even why you fish.

Regardless of what kind of impact fly fishing literature makes, a big part of the reason why books are so important is that they do impact people. So many fly fishers I have spoken to have testified to the role a book had during their formative years in their pursuit of fish.

Over the past few weeks I’ve reached out to some folks in the fly fishing industry. I asked them to share one of their favorite books. Maybe not their absolute, number one, top book of all time – but a favorite. Some titles may be familiar, while others could be new to you.   Either way, it is fun to see what people are reading:

Kirk Werner, Unaccomplished Angler
I’m sure others are going to mention the classics, and deservedly so. While I’ve probably read most of those and enjoyed them greatly, here’s something a little different that many probably haven’t even heard of – A Good Life Wasted: Or Twenty Years as a Fishing Guide, by Dave Ames. This is a great reminder to read it again as it’s been many users since I have. So thanks for that!

Daniel Gelhardo, Tenkara USA
I love John Gierach’s books. They always paint a picture of fly-fishing. Perhaps a bit like Henry Thoreau, he’s so good at deriving a point about life and philosophy out of his observations. Trout Bum still remains a classic and a favorite, and in no small part inspired my love for story-telling.

Dave Goetz, 2 Guys and a River
My favorite is probably Gary Borger’s “Nymphing.”   Nymphing: A Basic Book was published in 1979, and it has simple drawings to illustrate the various points. I stumbled across the book twenty years ago and read every word. I still go back to read sections of the book to remind me of the basics of nymph fishing. It strips back nymphing to its most simple elements.

Steve Mathewson, 2 Guys and a River
Besides The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists (couldn’t resist!), it’s Bud Lilly’s Guide to Fly Fishing the New West by Bud Lilly and Paul Schullery. It’s a favorite because it contains the wit and wisdom of Bud Lilly. It’s part memoir and part “how-to.” Bud tells stories of his early days as a fly fisher, fly shop owner, and conservationist. He also shares a lifetime of practical insights about fishing the rivers, streams, and lakes of the intermountain west.

Phil Montano, Fly Trap Fly Holder
It’s called Reflections from 100 Fly Fishers, by Michael Reingruber. I love it because it contains a huge variety of fly fishers from all over telling their stories, tips, and tricks. These stories epitomize why we love the sport, not to mention it benefits two great organizations: Casting for Recovery and Project Healing Waters.

Tom Rosenbauer, Orvis
The Fly and the Fish by John Atherton; because I read it as a teenager and it influenced my fly tying for the rest of my life. Plus, is is beautifully written and much of it is about my home river, the Battenkill.

What is your favorite fly fishing book?

Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Want to know some of my suggestions? Here is a handful of articles.


  1. Brian says:

    John Gierach’s works are a constant companion for me but Thomas McGuane’s The Longest Silence is one of my favorites from any genre.

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