I hope you were able to check out my 2019 Fly Fisher’s Christmas List I posted last week. I’ve had a couple people recently ask me for book recommendations, so I thought I’d add a few more items to the list. Some are from my favorite Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Books page. The books below are my recommendations for your fly fishing and fly tying bookshelf.

Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Bookshelf | www.johnkreft.com

BugWater: A fly fisher’s look through the seasons at bugs in their aquatic habitat and the fish that eat them by Arlen Thomason – What do I enjoy the most about this book? The pictures! Arlen is an excellent photographer and captures the real bugs at various states. He explains the major hatches in layman terms. It’s a great resource I use constantly for the major insects important to the fly fisher in rivers and lakes.

Flies for the Greater Yellowstone Area  by Bruce Staples – The essential reference for fly fishing the Rocky Mountain West, Flies for the Greater Yellowstone Area compiles more than 500 fly patterns for nymphs, dry flies, emergers, and streamers. Filled with accurate recipes from the originators of the patterns, the book is perfect for use in the waters of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and other western regions.

The North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition by Robert L. Smith – Smith “relates the fascinating history of the soft-hackle fly, tracing its origins through early manuscripts and diaries to the fly patterns of the early flyfishers of Wharfedale three hundred years ago…Beautifully illustrated, both with examples of the actual flies and the materials used to tie them, and with images of the original manuscripts, this book provides, for the first time, the definitive history of the tying and fishing the North Country fly.”

Brook and River Trouting by Edmonds and Lee – This book was first published in 1916 and was the first to include colored drawings of the flies and materials used to make them. I believe it’s a must-have to see what materials look like because they reference English birds for their soft hackle flies. If you are interested in the history of soft hackle flies, either download a copy HERE or click the link for a reproduction.

Western Mayfly Hatches: From the Rockies to the Pacific by Rick Haefle and Dave Hughes – If you are really interested in learning more about different mayflies and their life-cycles, this is the book for you. Haefle and Hughes have written several books on the subject and this is one of their best. They discuss habitat and behavior of the insects and provide a Hatch Importance Ranking Table to help determine those you’ll want to concentrate on. In addition, they offer recommended imitations for nymphs, emergers, duns, and spinners and how to present them.

Fly Patterns: Tie Thousands of Flies; Dry, Nymph, Emerger, Streamer, Steelhead – Saltwater and Warmwater by Randall and Mary Kaufmann – This is a great reference for the fly tyer. When someone asks about a specific fly, it’s the first place I look for the fly pattern.

Learning from the Water by Rene Harrop – This is a great book. Rene shares his insights learned from many years of fly fishing, which will help you become a better fly fisher. Read about his strategies to successfully fish his home water, the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. Even if you don’t plan to fish the Henry’s Fork, you’ll be a better fly fisher after reading it. And for the fly tyer, check out his CDC fly patterns listed in the book.

Fly Patterns of Yellowstone – Volume Two by Craig Mathews and John Juracek – This is an older book, but one that had a huge impact on the flies I tie and use not only in the greater Yellowstone area, but in all the waters I fish. These simple, but effective flies are easy to tie and CATCH FISH! If you can find a copy, I highly recommend it. The original Fly Patterns of Yellowstone was first published in 1987.

The Yellowstone Fly-Fishing Guide, New and Revised by Craig Mathews and Clayton Molinero – This is the latest book from Craig to reflect changes of the last 20 years in Yellowstone National Park. One option is to order directly from Blue Ribbon Flies. Here is part of their description – “This comprehensive guide covers every body of water in the park and is a must-have for anyone planning a trip to Yellowstone country.”

The Soft-Hackled Fly Addict by Sylvester Nemes – This is a hard-to-find book, but if you can find one it’s a must have for your fly fishing library. It includes the historical work of Pritt, Edmonds and Lee, although for a more accurate accounting, Smith’s North Country Fly mentioned above is more complete. Nemes authored several soft hackle books, but I like this one the best. You don’t have to be a fly tyer to appreciate this work.

Nymph Fishing: New Angles, Tactics, and Techniques by George Daniel – Full disclosure. I haven’t read this book, but anything authored by George has to be great. He is the master of nymph fishing and his other good book is entitled Dynamic Nymphing: Tactics, Techniques, and Flies from Around the World.

Steelhead Flies by John Shewey – For my steelhead fly tyers, any book by John is good. Other equally well-written books include Classic Steelhead Flies, and the spectacular Spey Flies & Dee Flies. The last is very difficult to find, but if you need a copy, I might know someone willing to sell their second copy (no, it isn’t me).

Fly Fishing Oregon’s Crooked River: Insect Drift and Seasonal Fish Diets as a Guide to Successful Fly Fishing by John Anderson – John is a retired entomologist who has spent many years studying the macro-invertebrates and fly fishing numerous days throughout the year on this desert river. No one knows more about the Crooked River than John Anderson! Topics found in the book include Crooked River bugs, their ecology related to catching fish, flies and techniques, life history of the bugs and mimicking for trout, and recommended fly patterns. If you are interested in purchasing the book, check out Central Oregon fly shops.

Lastly, I’ll end with a free book. Full disclosure…I am good friends with the authors.


The Humpy Encyclopedia by Gretchen & Al Beatty – These prolific authors seem to never stop writing. When they aren’t working on a book, you’ll see articles by them in Fly Tyer magazine. Gretchen and Al are eager to help improve your fly tying skills. I was asked to tie a Humpy for an upcoming plate and found this book invaluable! Did you know they provide detailed instructions for tying 12 different Humpy fly patterns? The chapter on material selection is worth its weight in gold! Click on the book to find a link to obtain your own free PDF download.

I hope you found a book of interest to you in the list. Winter is just beginning and you’ll need something to read!

Enjoy…go fish!

(John Kreft is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.)

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  1. Hi John,
    Thanks for mentioning our Humpy book.We appreciate the good press. You didn’t mention the PDF download is FREE at our website. Take care & Happy Thanksgiving to you, Karen, and your readers.
    Tight Lines – (Gretchen &) Al Beatty

    1. Hi Al

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and provide a Comment. I did mention it in the previous sentence, but I’ll make it more explicit.

      Thanks…Happy Thanksgiving!


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