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19 Must-Read Books on Fly Fishing to Shake Off the Seasons In 2024

19 Must-Read Books On fly fishing

Did you know that fly fishing is one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities in the United States? With its combination of skill, artistry, and connection with nature, fly fishing has captured the hearts of anglers across the country.

Whether you’re a novice angler or an experienced pro, there’s always more to learn about this captivating sport.

In this article, I will introduce you to 15 must-read books on fly fishing that cover a wide range of topics, from the history of fly fishing to techniques, tips, and strategies for various species.

These books are written by renowned experts and will provide you with valuable insights, inspiration, and guidance to enhance your fly fishing journey.

Note: This post contains affliate links.

The History of Fly Fishing

Fly fishing has been practiced for centuries, evolving significantly over time. Learning about its past not only helps us appreciate the sport more but also enhances our skills on the water.

“Fly fishing goes beyond just catching fish; it’s about connecting with nature and embracing an age-old art form.”

By delving into the history on fly fishing, we encounter stories of pioneering anglers, innovative techniques, and the evolving equipment that has shaped the sport.

These books not only inform but also inspire, allowing us to glean wisdom from those who have Readthe way before us.

From tales of early fly fishing adventures to discussions on the sport’s ecological impact, the recommended books in this section cover a wide range of topics.

They offer a mix of historical narratives, personal anecdotes, and detailed analysis, providing a comprehensive understanding of fly fishing’s past.

Recommended Fly Fishing Books for Exploring its History

  • Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis by Howell Raines
  • The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton
  • Trout Bum by John Gierach
  • A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
  • The Founding Flies by Mike Valla

These books will take you on a journey through time, immersing you in the stories, techniques, and personalities that have shaped the sport of fly fishing. They are not only educational but also enjoyable reads for any angler or literature enthusiast.

5 Must-Read Books on Fly Fishing Techniques and Tips

In this section, I will highlight some essential fly fishing guidebooks that offer valuable techniques, tips, and strategies to enhance your angling skills.

These books cover a wide range of topics, including casting techniques, fly selection, and effective approaches for different fishing scenarios.

Whether you’re a novice angler looking to improve your casting accuracy or an experienced fly fisherman seeking new tactics, these books are a must-have addition to your library.

“The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide” by Tom Rosenbauer

This comprehensive guidebook covers all aspects of fly fishing, with detailed instructions on casting techniques, equipment selection, and trout behavior. Rosenbauer, a renowned fly fishing expert, provides valuable insights and tips that will benefit anglers of all skill levels.

“The Fly-Tying Bible” by Peter Gathercole

Whether you’re a novice angler looking to improve your casting acc

uracy or an experienced fly fisherman seeking new tactics, these books are a must-have addition to your library.

Salt: Coastal and Flats Fishing Photograph

For those interested in exploring the art of fly tying, this book serves as an indispensable resource. Gathercole covers a wide range of fly patterns, materials, and tying techniques, catering to both beginners and advanced fly tiers.

With step-by-step instructions and detailed photographs, this book will help you create realistic and effective flies.

“Fly fishing is much more than just catching fish. It is a harmonious blend of technique, observation, and appreciation for nature.” –


“Essential Trout Flies” by Dave Hughes

Offering detailed insights into fly patterns and their imitations, this book focuses on the flies that are most effective for trout fishing.

Hughes delves into the biology of trout and their feeding habits, helping anglers make informed decisions on fly selection based on the insects present in the water.

“Reading Trout Water” by Dave Hughes

"Reading Trout Water" by Dave Hughes

This book provides a comprehensive guide to understanding trout behavior and how to locate them in different water conditions.

Hughes shares his wealth of knowledge on reading water, identifying feeding lies, and choosing the right fly presentation to maximize your chances of success.

These guidebooks will provide you with the knowledge and techniques you need to become a more skilled and successful fly angler.

Whether you’re new to fly fishing or looking to refine your skills, these essential fly fishing books will be valuable resources in your pursuit of the perfect catch.

Best Books on Fly Fishing for Trout

When it comes to fly fishing for trout, having the right knowledge and techniques is crucial for success. Luckily, several highly recommended fly fishing books can help you master this art.

From understanding trout behavior to matching the hatch, these top fly fishing books cover it all.

  • The Orvis Guide to Trout Fishing by Tom Rosenbauer
  • Micropatterns: Tying and Fishing the Small Fly by Darrel Martin
  • Curtis Creek Manifesto: A Fully Illustrated Guide to the Strategy, Finesse, Tactics, and Paraphernalia of Fly Fishing by Sheridan Anderson
  • The Trout Tips: More than 250 Fly-Fishing Tips from the Members of Trout Unlimited edited by Skip Morris
  • The Fly Tier’s Beachside Reference by Ted Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer

These recommended fly fishing books not only provide valuable insights into trout behavior and habitat but also offer practical techniques and tips that will help you catch more trout. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned angler, these books are invaluable resources for fly fishing success.

“Fly fishing for trout is a lifelong pursuit that offers endless opportunities for learning and growth. With the right knowledge and guidance from these top fly fishing books, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any trout stream with confidence.” – Fly Fisher Magazine

Fly Fisher Magazine
TitleAuthorPublication Year
The Orvis Guide to Trout FishingTom Rosenbauer2017
Micropatterns: Tying and Fishing the Small FlyDarrel Martin2009
Curtis Creek Manifesto: A Fully Illustrated Guide to the Stategy, Finesse, Tactics, and Paraphernalia of Fly FishingSheridan Anderson1978
The Trout Tips: More than 250 Fly-Fishing Tips from the Members of Trout UnlimitedEdited by Skip Morris2015
The Fly Tier’s Benchside ReferenceTed Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer1998
Details On The Books

4 Fly Fishing for Bass and Other Species

In this section, I will discuss some of the best fly fishing books that focus on targeting bass and other species. These instructional books provide valuable insights and techniques to effectively pursue various freshwater and saltwater game fish.

“Bass on the Fly” by A. D. Livingston

"Bass on the Fly" by A. D. Livingston

This comprehensive guidebook is a must-have for any angler looking to target bass on the fly. A. D. Livingston shares his extensive knowledge and experience, covering everything from fly selection to retrieving techniques.

With detailed instructions and captivating anecdotes, this book is a valuable resource for both beginners and seasoned fly-fishing enthusiasts.

“Saltwater Fly Fishing” by Jack Samson

If you’re interested in pursuing saltwater species, “Saltwater Fly Fishing” is an excellent choice. This book covers the essentials of saltwater fly fishing, including casting techniques, understanding tides, and targeting species such as tarpon, bonefish, and striped bass.

Jack Samson’s expertise in saltwater angling shines through, making this book a valuable asset for aspiring saltwater fly anglers.

“Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass” by Harry Murray

Harry Murray’s “Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass” is widely regarded as a classic in the fly fishing community. This book delves into the specific strategies and tactics required to catch smallmouth bass, including fly patterns, river techniques, and seasonal patterns. Whether you’re targeting smallmouth bass in rivers or lakes, this book provides valuable insights to help you become a more successful angler.

“Fly fishing for bass and other species is an exhilarating experience. With the right techniques and knowledge, you can unlock the potential of these diverse and exciting fisheries.” – A. D. Livingston

A. D. Livingston

These are just a few examples of the many outstanding fly fishing books available that focus on bass and other species.

Whether you’re targeting largemouth bass, trout, pike, or even saltwater game fish, these instructional books will provide you with the knowledge and inspiration needed for a successful fly fishing adventure.

Best Books On Fly Tying and Flies

Now lets see books centered around fly tying and flies. These books will cover different fly patterns, materials, and tying techniques, allowing readers to create their own custom flies and enhance their fly fishing experience.

One of the best fly fishing guidebooks on the market is “The Fly-Tying Bible” by Peter Gathercole. This comprehensive book provides step-by-step instructions for tying a wide range of flies, from dry flies to nymphs and streamers. With detailed photographs and clear explanations, it is a valuable resource for both beginners and experienced fly tyers.

For those interested in tying classic flies, “A Treasury of Fishing Flies” by Tony Lolli is a must-read. This book showcases over 60 classic fly patterns, accompanied by beautiful illustrations and historical anecdotes. It is a true celebration of the artistry and tradition of fly tying.

Different Fly Patterns

When it comes to fly patterns, there are countless options to choose from. Some popular patterns include:

  • Adams
  • Elk Hair Caddis
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph
  • Woolly Bugger
  • Hopper

The Fly-Tying Bible” and “A Treasury of Fishing Flies” both provide detailed instructions for tying these and many other fly patterns. Whether you’re targeting trout, bass, or other species, having a variety of flies in your arsenal will increase your chances of success on the water.

Fly Tying Materials and Techniques

Fly tying is not just about patterns; it also involves understanding different materials and techniques. This knowledge allows fly tyers to experiment with variations and create flies tailored to specific fishing situations.

“The Fly Tier’s Beachside Reference” by Ted Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer is a valuable resource for learning about fly-tying materials and techniques. This comprehensive book covers everything from selecting hooks and threads to working with feathers and dubbing. It is a must-have for any aspiring fly tier.

These books provide detailed information on fly-tying materials, their characteristics, and how to use them effectively.

From feathers to dubbing and threads, understanding these materials will help you create flies that perfectly imitate the insects and baitfish trout and other species feed on.

By exploring the world of fly tying through these recommended books, you can elevate your fly fishing experience to new heights.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fly angler, the knowledge and techniques gained from these books will enhance your understanding of fly patterns, materials, and tying techniques. Happy tying!

8 Fictional & Non Fictional Books On Fly Fish

The following are 8 fictional & non-fictional books you can read:

 Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon


  • Gripping narrative on tarpon fishing.
  • Valuable insights into the world of world record tarpon.
  • Rich in details about tarpon fishing.


  • Specialized focus on tarpon may limit appeal.
  • Technical Intense themes of madness and obsession.about insects may be overwhelming.
  • Limited practical tips for anglers.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler spending hours on a poling platform or a novice to fly rods, “Lords of the Fly” will captiv

ate you from the first chapter. Transporting you to the ’70s and ’80s, the book delves into the lives of fly anglers who sacrificed everything for a shot at a world record.

Amidst laughter and pain over lost fish, the book explores the ethical dilemma of killing a fish for a description and the realization that even catch-and-release is a form of blood sport.

They are highly recommended for those who love captivating stories about fascinating people.

The little Red Book On Fly Fishing – Kirk Deeter, Charlie Meyer


  • Bite-sized and enjoyable fly fishing wisdom.
  • Infuses a humorous tone into advice.
  • Covers a variety of fly fishing topics.


  • Lacks in-depth detail on certain topics.
  • Not a step-by-step guide.
  • Reflects personal preferences of the authors.

I’ve got the inside scoop on a fantastic guide called “The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing” by Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyers. Imagine this book as your ultimate fishing buddy, helping you step up your game from basic casting and fly picking to some cool advanced tricks like reading the water and snagging that big

It’s like a secret weapon for your fishing adventures! This book is so easy to understand and practical that you can toss it in your truck or keep it on your boat for quick tips whenever you need it.

Whether you’re just starting or already know about fishing, this book is like a treasure chest of fishing knowledge that’ll make each trip successful.

Salt: Coastal and Flats Fishing Photography


  • Visually stunning coastal and flats fishing photography.
  • Diverse content for varied audience appeal.
  • Great conversation starter and source of inspiration.


  • Limited textual content for in-depth information.
  • Niche focuses on coastal and flat fishing.
  • Relies heavily on visuals.

“SALT” is the perfect companion for light reading accompanied by coffee. Featuring stunning photography and Rosenbauer’s engaging essays, the book provides relief for fishing enthusiasts during cabin fever months.

Organized by themes like wading, boats, fish, flies, guides, weather, and more, each chapter immerses you in the action. The tales of snarky yet personable guides and captivating portraits and landscapes make this book a delightful experience.

Whether you prefer a calm flip-through or an intense read, “Salt” and its companion book, “Flywater,” are worth exploring.

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century – Kirk Wallace Johnson


  • Gripping true-crime narrative in the world of fly tying.
  • Blends natural history, obsession, and crime.
  • Engaging for those interested in the intersection of fly fishing and history.


  • There is less emphasis on practical fly fishing techniques.
  • It may not appeal to those seeking traditional angling content.
  • Specialized focus on a unique historical event.

If you’re up for an incredible adventure beyond the rivers, “The Feather Thief” by Kirk Wallace Johnson is a page-turner. Imagine this – while fishing in New Mexico, the author stumbles upon a colourful salmon tie in his guide’s collection.

What follows is a wild journey into the world of Victorian Salmon Flies and a museum heist that turns out to be Britain’s most significant natural history theft. Johnson’s storytelling is a perfect blend of investigative journalism and an exploration of human behaviour.

It’s not just about the feathers; it’s about obsession, beauty, and a captivating tale that keeps you hooked from start to finish. If you’re into fly fishing history, and a good mystery, “The Feather Thief” is a captivating read that you won’t want to put down.

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories – Norman Maclean


  • A classic collection of fly fishing stories.
  • Beautifully written with timeless appeal.
  • An insightful exploration of family, nature, and life.


  • Less instructional content for anglers.
  • Technical details about insects may be overwhelming.
  • It may not suit those seeking practical advice.

Even if you’ve seen the movie “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean, it is a classic in fly fishing tales. First published in 1976, this book tells the real-life story of Norman and his brother growing up fly-fishing in rural Montana.

It’s not just about fishing; it dives into the love of fly fishing and the struggles of real life and paints an inspiring picture that any angler will appreciate. Maclean’s writing is like a poetic journey through the rivers and the moments that make fishing not just a hobby but a way of life.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting, this book is a must-read that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

The Longest Silence – Tom McGuane


  • Collection of essays exploring the philosophy of fishing.
  • Written by a renowned author and angler.
  • Offers a mix of personal experiences and reflections.


  • It may lack detailed instructional content.
  • Less focused on specific angling techniques.
  • More emphasis on literary merit.

Now, every list of fly fishing books is complete, mentioning Thomas McGuane, a literary giant in fishing and literature. “The Longest Silence” is his fishing-focused masterpiece; trust me, it’s one of the all-time greats. McGuane, with his larger-than-life persona, takes you on a journey through a series of essays documenting fishing adventures across the globe.

From the small rivers of Michigan to dream destinations in Ireland, Key West, Russia, and beyond, McGuane’s writing captures the essence of why we fish. His eye for detail and the beauty he brings to his writing make it both spot-on, accurate, and larger than life.

If you’re a fishing enthusiast, this book is a must-read, transporting you to exotic locations while grounding you in the simple joy that fishing brings.

At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman – John Giearach


  • Reflective and philosophical exploration of fly fishing.
  • Unique storytelling by John Giearach.
  • Provides a different perspective on the art of fishing.


  • It is not a practical guide for fishing techniques.
  • It may not suit readers seeking specific angling advice.
  • Relies heavily on personal anecdotes.

If you’re into fly fishing and still need to check out John Gierach, you’re missing out! His book, “At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman,” is like a treasure chest for those who love fishing stories.

Gierach is like the king of fly fishing literature, and even though “Trout Bum” gets a lot of hype, if I had to pick one from his fourteen works, this is the one. What makes it unique is that it’s a whole year in Gierach’s fishing life, from winter trips for prairie trout in Wyoming to high-country adventures in Colorado for grayling.

He talks about everything, from the unexpected fun of carp Check on Amazonfishing to the legendary Green Drake hatch in the West. It’s one of the best explorations of the fishing life I’ve come across, covering the moment’s emotion, the mood of the day, and even the appeal of keeping a fishing journal.

Gierach has this fantastic way of summing up his fishing memories that sets him apart from the rest. Trust me, read this book and all the others he’s written. You won’t regret it!

Spring Creek – Nick Lyons


  • Literary exploration of fly fishing and nature.
  • Offers a contemplative and reflective reading experience.
  • Captures the beauty and serenity of spring creek fishing.


  • Light on practical advice for anglers.
  • It may not appeal to those seeking detailed techniques.
  • Emphasis on storytelling over instructional content.

I’ve got a gem for you – “Spring Creek” by Nick Lyons. He’s like a legend in the fishing and publishing world, and this book is pure magic. Picture this: a series of visits to a tiny spring creek in Montana, tucked away on a friend’s ranch.

Lyons takes you on a fisherman’s journey, tackling the challenges of a new place and chasing after monstrous brown trout that are as elusive as they are mighty. It’s not just about fishing; it’s about falling head over heels in love with everything around that creek.

Lyons’ words have this incredible power to transport you from a cold city winter straight into one of the most beautiful fishing scenes you can imagine. If you’re looking for a book to sweep you into a whole new world, grab “Spring Creek.”

Even in his eighties, he reflects on the river, saying, “The river lives whole and vivid in my mind,” you’ll feel the same way after reading this masterpiece.

The Optimist – David Coggins


  • A collection of essays capturing the essence of fly fishing.
  • A blend of humor, reflection, and storytelling.
  • Enhances fishing success through trout diet understanding.Offers a literary approach to the fly fishing experience.


  • Less focused on practical tips and techniques.
  • It may not appeal to those seeking instructional content.
  • Relatively light on specific angling advice.

Lastly, here’s a newer addition to the fly fishing scene – “The Optimist” by David Coggins. This book is about critical moments in Coggins’ fly fishing journey, from early memories and oops moments in places like Wisconsin and Montana to dream trips in spots like Patagonia and the Bahamas.

Coggins isn’t precisely a Gierach-style trout bum; he’s all about the finer things in life, like fancy wines and New York fashion. At first, I thought that might not jive with my love for down-to-earth fishing tales.

Still, surprise, surprise – I found Coggins’ stories relatable and engaging. He spills the beans on the intense desire for fishing and the slightly secretive, almost cult-like devotion we sometimes feel.

It’s like he gets us, you know? If you’re into fly fishing and enjoy a bit of the good life, give “The Optimist” a shot. You might find yourself nodding along to his fishing adventures.

Final Words

In conclusion, the world of fly fishing books gives lots of know-how and inspiration for anglers of all levels.

These must-read fly fishing books cover many topics, from the history and techniques of fly fishing to focusing on particular fish species and mastering fly tying. They’re really good suggestions for any angler’s bookshelf.

If you’re curious about the beginnings and changes of fly fishing, books like “The History of Fly Fishing” by Mike Valla and “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean tell captivating stories that explore the sport’s rich past.

If you want to get better at fly fishing, guidebooks like “The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing” by Tom Rosenbauer and “Fly-Fishing Techniques for Smallmouth Bass” by Harry Murray give helpful tips, techniques, and strategies to help you catch more fish.

Lastly, for those who love fly tying, books like “The Fly-Tying Bible” by Peter Gathercole and “Fly Patterns for Stillwaters” by Philip Rowley offer detailed guides on making effective flies for different fishing situations.

So, whether you’re after knowledge, inspiration, or just a good read, these recommended fly fishing books will definitely make your fishing experience better and deepen your love for the sport.