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Trout Flies for the 21st Century
 Book review by Jim Stuard


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Even up to ten years ago when I first started to learn fly tying, you had to largely rely on friends and your local library to supply the knowledge base required to learn the basics of fly tying. With the advent of the internet, the world changed in a very short time for fly tiers. You can now find just about any pattern for any fish, with an accompanying recipe and best of all, a picture of the finished product. With the coming of high speed connections, large videos (like our Adventures In Fly Tying series) could easily be downloaded. The only prerequisite is that you know how to use Google. How does a word and pictures on paper magazine, like Fly Tyer, compete with that?


Well, they print the words and pictures on the paper equivalent of a fly database, in a book. Fly Tyer has been the de facto reference standard for fly tiers for thirty years now. With their thirtieth anniversary here, theyíve been busy putting out a few books for the fly tying masses. Their inaugural effort is Trout Flies for the 21st Century by Dick Talleur.


Mr. Talleur has been associated with teaching and writing on fly tying for the better part of 40 years, much of that time spent writing for Fly Tyer magazine. He was the logical choice to write this book. What you get is a 195 page, semi-encyclopedic volume on the 200 essential patterns for catching trout anywhere. For the newbie out there, what that translates into is ĎWe have a lot of patterns in this book. We tell a lot of stories about them. Most, but not all, will catch fish on your watersÖí.


I think their title is catchier. For the money you get a great reference with very good, well defined photography that includes some limited how-to on some of the more interesting patterns.  This isnít a beginners book but beginners will benefit from the step-photo laden instructions. Experienced tiers will gain some insight into patterns they donít usually fish, but for the most part Iím thinking this book has the intermediate level tier as its target. Tiers at this level still require some how-to, but basically are thirsty for knowledge about a fly and wonít suffer poor pictures.


All the photography and how-to aside, the part of this book that is truly worth the price of admission is the first chapter. Itís an in-depth study of a dry-fly cape. For those of you out there learning the hobby, discerning the quality of feathers, seen hanging on a rack, in a store, can be maddening. Mr. Talleur clears up a lot of misconceptions about buying and using rooster capes. His style is conversational and unassuming and he inserts a lot of value added explanation into each chapter. Are you going to tie every one of these flies? Maybe, but Iím thinking not. We have a couple of innocuous trout streams within a couple hours of Cincinnati and for the most part, theyíre rivers where nymphing is one of the best techniques for catching fish. If I was fishing exclusively on the trout streams in Michigan, the dry fly chapters in the book would get worn out. You get the picture.


Can you use these patterns for warm water species? I say, absolutely. Between the terrestrials, wet flies, nymphs and streamers, you can cover quite a few of the patterns for general smallmouth fishing in streams. Not to mention panfish and some smaller muskie, striper and pike flies. While the techniques for fishing them will be different for each species, the patterns wonít change.

Iíve seen a lot of pattern books in the past and they can be dry as a popcorn fart. The reality is that most folks read a book of fishing stories once, maybe twice, in their lives. A well conceived pattern book thatís easy to use will see frequent service on your tying bench. As pattern books go, this one really balances out the driest aspects of publishing recipes and pictures with some good background on the flies. Trout Flies for the 21st Century is well laid out and printed in a spiral bound fashion that lends itself to being laid flat, next to your vise. Thatís been one of my pet peeves over the years where you have to break the spine on a book to get it to lay flat, basically ruining the volume. My fondest hope is that Fly Tyer will publish similar compendiums on warmwater and saltwater flies. Well done and highly recommended!


Trout Flies for the 21st Century (ISBN 978-1-59921-259-3) is available from The Lyons Press for $24.95.

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