Seems like I don’t have time to read books like I used to. Or perhaps it’s because the Internet has so much information that can be found quickly.

Here are a few of my favorite fly fishing and fly tying books. They’ve helped me and I encourage you to consider them for your fly fishing and fly tying library. And I encourage you to support your local fly shop. Check in with them and see if they carry it. Otherwise, click on the links I’ve provided for quick delivery from

(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

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.

Tying Small Flies by Ed Engle

Are you afraid of tying small flies? OK, maybe not afraid but perhaps a little intimidated. Ed presents the topic well, breaking it down to the proper thread to use as well as minimizing materials. Remember, these are itty bitty bugs!

Fly-Fishing Stillwaters for Trophy Trout by Denny Rickards  

I really like this Denny Rickards book. Denny has developed some great fly fishing patterns and includes the fly pattern sheets as well. This book was where I found the Denny’s Callibaetis Nymph, Denny’s Stillwater Nymph, and Denny’s AP Nymph to name a few. (I’ll create the fly pattern sheets for these flies soon.)

Western Mayfly Hatches: From the Rockies to the Pacific by Rick Haefle and Dave Hughes 

This book is a wonderful resource to learn about the insects we attempt to imitate.

Learning from the Water by Rene Harrop 

This is a great book. Rene is the master of using CDC feathers in his fly patterns. I have tied and fished his patterns. I highly recommend his patterns and this book. 

Montana’s Best Fishing Waters from Wilderness Adventures Press

If you fish Montana or plan to go, this is a must-have book to help identify access locations you plan to fish. It contains 170 full-page color maps. Anytime I think about going to a new Montana river, this is the first resource I pull out.

 Barr Flies by John Barr

The inventor of the Copper John, this book showcases several other John Barr flies. This is a must-have book for your fly fishing and fly tying library.

 Steelhead Flies by John Shewey

John’s book talks about the craft and art of dressing steelhead flies. Spectacular photos. You will learn proper technique through the multiple step fly tying process. I use this book often when tying steelhead patterns. It will also help your general fly tying. 

Spey Flies & Dee Flies, Their History & Construction by John Shewey

I love this book! Unfortunutely, I think it’s out of print. You can still find a few around, it you’re lucky.

Classic Steelhead Flies by John Shewey

This is John’s newest book, published in January 2015. Haven’t had my hands on it yet, but it’s on my list. 

[Dan Callaghan’s] NORTH UMPQUA

This book serves as a pictorial story of the Oregon’s North Umpqua river. Dan’s photos are spectacular.

Caddisflies by Gary LaFontaine

This book was published in 1981, but is still my go-to source for anything related to Caddis. It took him 10 years to write the book because of the research he performed.

When Gary started the book, not many people were talking about caddisflies. It was all mayflies. He wrote the book with the fly fisher in mind…as a problem-solver. What caddis fly stages (larval, pupal, and adult) are available to the fish? How can the fly tyer create fly patterns to imitate these stages and catch fish?

Getting Started Fly-Fishing by Craig Schuhmann

Everyone asks me if there is a good book for beginning fly fishers. Well, this is it. Even if you aren’t a beginner, this book has valuable tips to incorporate in your fly fishing. I’d add it to your library!

Forgotten Flies by Paul Schmookler & Ingrid V. Sils

This is a spectacular book and includes flies from Ray Bergman, Preston Jennings, Mary Orvis Marbury, and Carrie Stevens.

The Founding Flies by Mike Valla

This is one of my newer books. Mike Valla has done a terrific job capturing what the subtitles expresses – “43 American Masters, Their Patterns and Influences”. If you are remotely interested in fly fishing history, this is a must read, even if you don’t tie flies.

The North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition by Robert L. Smith

I purchased mine from The Rogue Anglers website.

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.”

What are your favorite books?

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    1. Les

      Thanks for the Comment. I would recommend The North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition by Robert L. Smith. The history is second to none and includes pics and directions of how the old flies were tied. Secondly, download the Brook and River Trouting by Edmonds & Lee. You won’t be disappointed. Email sent…


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