Published Apr 2. 1995 - 22 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 25. 2015

The art of the trout fly

Seriously. This is a book that I like just to touch. The print renders the photos in an excellent quality, and leaves the reader with a feeling that the flies are as textured, translucent and subtle as they actually are.

The Art of the Trout Fly by Judith Dunham

Book cover
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 1995 21:16:34 +0100 (MET)
I recently suggested that we should review books for each other. Here is my own first offer (not chosen for any particuler reason):

  • Judith Dunham, The Art of the Trout Fly
  • Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco 1988
  • ISBN 0-87701-528-7
  • Price US$ 29.95 (On the cover. I paid the double in Denmark)
This book sure is beautiful, nothing less.
The flies are beautiful
The photos are beautiful
The Typography is beautiful
The print is beautiful
...even the girls are beautiful (sorry, couldn't resist it)

Seriously. This is a book that I like just to touch. The print renders the photos in an excellent quality, and leaves the reader with a feeling that the flies are as textured, translucent and subtle as they actually are. The pictures were all taken with great skill by Egmont van Dyck, and those of us who know how much care it takes to give justice to a piece of fur and feathers will know how much effort was put into pictures like these.

As seen more and more often, the flies are taken on very textured, 'natural' backgrounds and not isolated in a vice. But opposite many pictures taken in this way, these let the flies present themselves in a way that makes it possible to see a lot of details. Yet the pictures are well composed and the light setting done in a manner that doesn't blur or hide, but emphasize things.
And the flies are of course the upper class flies that you expect from a book with a title like this one. Each picture shows one or several flies made by tiers that give their own text on the opposite page. The text is mostly related to the flies in a fairly distant manner, just explaining why these particular patterns were chosen, catching a mood, telling an anecdote. Few of the tiers give direct tying instructions.
The patterns are described through a material list, and any fairly experienced tyer will be able to tie most of them using this list and the pictures. Only few use special techniques, that have to be seen demonstrated.

The flies come from all over the world. There are of course many flies from the US, but some Swiss, Dutch, Japanese and even Danish flies have sneaked in. They represent a broad variety of mostly traditional trout flies. There are sections with wets, dries and terrestrials, and even though only few of them are completely new -- even to me, who doesn't fish trout in streams very often -- they offer very good inspiration, and reading the comments of the tiers is very stimulating.
These aren't necessarily the best flies tied by the best tiers, but the presentation makes it a joy to leaf through the book.

Reading a book as this gives me new ideas and makes me want to go to the vice immediately. It's an art book, OK, but a very useful one.

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Comments

Martin Joergensen's picture

Egmont,

I have always loved this book, which was one of the really early ones in my now rather large library, and one I often return to and love to run my fingers through.

4x5 and 8x10.... them were the days. When I used to write for and edit printed magazines, we often used large format cameras for the covers, and I was always fascinated by these large gizmos and the beautiful results they produced. Your photos for this book just confirms that fact. You did a very good job.

I guess mine is a first edition from 1988, and in a very good condition too - and even signed by Judith Dunham. But I'm not parting with that any time soon, so I hope you will find a copy somewhere else.

Martin

Greetings,

I was searching for a copy of the first edition when I came across this review. I wish to say thank you for the very kind words you wrote about the book and the photography, considering I am the photographer of the book.

In those days all images were taken with a 4x5 camera and there are even a couple of sets were I used an 8x10. All images were taken inside the garage studio. I had a great time putting together all the sets on an 4 by 8 foot plywood table.

Warmest regards,
Egmont van Dyck

One of the first books that triggered me to improve my fly tying.
Love my copy!

I think every now and then it can be bought on eBay for almost nothing.

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