Like biscuits and gravy, or bourbon and ice, fly fishing and writing seem to always go together. Doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction. Chances are you’re going to find the two together. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the best fly fishing books.

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#1 Best Fly Fishing Book Overall: The Longest Silence 

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Below, we cover several different types of books for the die-hard fly angler. Books that range from essays to instructional. There is something below for every level of reader and angler.

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The Best Fly Fishing Books

Take a look at the following books. Chances are there is going to be at least one on this list that is either going to help you become a better angler or at least entertain you.

1. History of Fly Fishing in Fifty Flies

  • Author – Ian Whitelaw
  • Length – 224

This History of Fly Fishing in Fifty Flies book tells the story of the two-thousand-year-old sport named fly fishing. it showcases some of the first popular flies, from the hook that held just a feather to modern flies and high tech materials.

The book widdles down 50 flies from history, and shows their development over time and how they also helped advance fly fishing. It also shows the spread of the sport in Europe and how it moved overseas.

It has more than just history though. You’ll even learn about some of the fly fishing influencers, tying tips, as well as photos and illustrations of the flies shown. While also showing the techniques on how to fish them.

A great book to use on a coffee table to bring on conversation and to find the other fly fishing nerd in the room. On top of being a centerpiece, it proves itself as a great wealth of knowledge. Something all fly anglers should own.

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2. The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing

  • Author – Kirk Deeter & Charlie Meyers
  • Length – 224

The object of The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing book is to help pull back the curtain on fly fishing. To try and show that it’s not all wizardry and black magic. Although sometimes it may kind of feel that way.

Everything in this book is made out to be simple and easy to learn. It gives simple lessons casting, presentation, reading water, and selecting your flies.

Essentially this is a book about mastering the basics of the sport. Something a novice needs to know and something the advanced angler should probably freshen up on.

The finals portion of the book is the miscellaneous aspect. Covering all sorts of items an angler should know but does not fall into one lump category.

You’ll learn about wading, choosing the right gear to bring with you on the water, as well as how to properly fight a fish on light tippet and leader. It’s an essential book that every single fly angler should own if they want to improve their skills.

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3. The Bug Book A Fly Fishers Guide to Trout Stream Insects

  • Author – Paul Weamer
  • Length –  152

For those of you that love to learn all the different insects and study scientific names. The Bug Book A Fly Fishers Guide to Trout Stream Insects is the book for you. It is the complete guide to the aquatic entomology for fly anglers. It features all kinds of great information.

You’ll find hatch charts, fly pattern recommendations, as well as different fishing strategies. This is a great book for someone new or someone who is looking for a deeper understanding of the food trout eat.

As someone who’s been fly fishing for several years now, I felt the need to pick up this book in order to understand what I’m throwing. Too often I felt overwhelmed or unsure of my fly choices.

Finally, there is an up to date and modern hatch guide. Something that any angler can look over before hitting a stream and have confidence in what they’re throwing. Which is half the battle anyway.

The book will not only teach when to throw certain flies but to also recognize insects in the water. Helping you understand which flies match those insects.

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4. Charlie Craven Basic Fly Tying

  • Author – Charlie Craven
  • Pages – 292

Charlie Craven’s Basic Fly Tying book is like sitting in a college classroom listening to your favorite professor explain your favorite topic. This book covers all of the fly tying fundamentals. Covering tools, materials, and techniques needed to tie flies.

There are over 1000 photos in this book. That Craven uses to show how to tie classics such as the Wooly Bugger, Royal Wulff, Admas, Hares Ear, and also RS2, and Copper John. His writing is easy and clear so even tying newbies can gain info.

This book is the quintessential site guide for basic flies. All of the flies that an angler and a tier should know how to use. Covering 17 different flies.

A book that is ideal for a novice or moderate angler looking to either begin or take the next step in tying flies. Or it could be great for the so-called expert looking to perfect their flies and take it to the next level. Truly a book for all levels of fly angler.

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5. The Longest Silence

  • Author – Thomas McGuane
  • Pages – 344

The Longest Silence book is not really an instructional text the way the previous products were. These are essays compiled by McGuane over a thirty-year period. Showcasing his triumphs and trials spent on the water with a fly rod in hand.

From trout to salmon, to striped bass, tarpon, and permit. McGaune gives great clarity to each of his stories. Putting the reader right there next to him feeling the spray of the saltwater or the power of the river.

There are thirty-three essays in this book. All set in a wide range of spots. You’ll find him in San Francisco, Key West, Montana, Ireland, Argentina, and even Russia. Fishing with his friends, son, even solo.

McGaune has more experience than most when it comes to the outdoors, and it’s highlighted in this book. It shows the kind of adventure that can be had when dedicating your life to this sport. It’s a must-read for all fly anglers or even just those that enjoy a good adventure story.

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What Makes the Best Fly Fishing Books Worth Reading?

Below, we’re going to go into more depth on what makes a great fly fishing book. We’re going to cover the importance of clarity, information, entertainment, and yes we’re even going to talk about the importance of pictures.

Clarity

Whether an author can convey their point in a clear and concise manner might be the most important piece of writing. Someone could be writing about total garbage, but if it’s written clearly then you can understand how terrible it is and find something else.

Reading a fly fishing book on a hill at sunset

The same goes for writing helpful information but putting it in a clear way. If you’re trying to show me how to tie Copper John in some roundabout way, then chances are I’m gonna wind up tying something that is entirely different

Information

There are a lot of books out there about fly fishing. Some say they’re a catch-all book that can teach you everything you need to know. While others are more niche. The catch-all are great for beginners while niche works for advanced lessons.

Before you go out and spend $20 on the book take some time to think about what you want to learn about the sport. Do you want an overview? Or do you want to learn how to Euro Nymph? If you want to Euro Nymph then go for the book that covers it head to toe. Not the overview with a few pages on the subject.

Entertainment

You’ll find many different types of books on fly fishing. Some are meant to education while others tell stories or previous experiences. No matter what though, they should be entertaining in some way.

Explaining how to read a river is important but it should be done in a way that draws in the reader to the information. This works the same way with essays and nonfiction work.

Pictures

Pictures are great in fly fishing books not because fly anglers have difficulty reading, but because there are many moving pieces in this sport. Learning how to read a river and understanding which way the current is flowing.

Man reading a fishing book while camping in hammock

Or how to tie the proper fly. Words can be great and very descriptive, but when you can pair words with pictures then you have something a reader can fully enjoy.

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Conclusion

There are many great books on fly fishing. Both non-fiction and fiction. You have the ability to learn a brand new skill by ordering one offline, or putting yourself someplace new catching a species of fish you could only dream of.

So, if there’s a new skill you’re looking to add to your metaphorical fly fishing toolbox then check out a good informational book and apply it out on the river. Or find a book that sucks you in and puts you right next to the angler fighting the big fish on a light leader.

So, after a full day of fishing, there’s nothing better than coming home and reading about fishing.

Some images in this post are courtesy of Shutterstock.

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