Stillwater Fly Fishing - Tools & Tactics
I usually skip the intros, acknowledgements, forewords and what-have-you's during my first reading of most books. Not that I'm not interested, but mostly I just plunge into the main contents and save the formal introduction for later.
In the case of Paul Marriner's book I just happend to let my eyes pass over the first page of acknowledgements, and was met with an impressing row of names from countries all over the world - England, Wales, Belgium, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania and of course the Author's homeland Canada not to mention USA. Well known anglers mingle with lesser names, but the list does indicate a well researched piece of work.
After this the author sketches the reason why he wrote this book at all. His aim is to "provide a source of stillwater tactics from around the world" and educate stream fishers in the art of stillwater fishing. That aim certainly expands the target group for this book to about 80 percent of all the world's fly anglers. This is not only a book for stillwater buffs, but strives to be an education for the rest of us too.
After having read through the intro I do not doubt that the author has done his homework well: fished every type of stillwater in every part of the world with some very able persons. The start surely raised my expectations for the rest of the book, and pardon me for letting the cat out of the bag right away: the book keeps every promise that I found - expressed or hidden - in that intro. It's an excellent book.
Paul Marriner covers the subject in three main sections: tackle, locating fish and fishing tactics and flies.
Most people - including myself - would probably have been tempted to switch these around or at least going straight for the meaty part about the special fishing methods and the flies. But saving this to the last part of the book makes sense seen in an educational perspective. If you want to learn to master this particular type of fishing you need to study - not only the flies and the casting, but also the particlar way of rigging the rods, the logics in the way stillwater fish move and feed and the way of lakes. As the author says: changing John Gierarc's "featureless discs" to interesting fishing water. And the chapter on "reading lakes" is probably the most educating and well thought through of the whole book, and the chapter that taught me most in the way of things that I didn't know I needed to know before venturing off to the nearest trout lake.
Other subjects in the book are covered just as thorough and any seasoned still water will have a hard time finding omissions or misses. Looking for comments on rod and line selection? It gets covered over several pages. Want to learn about natural foods in lakes? A whole chapter is dedicated to the subject. Boats and float tubes? Yes, it's there. Casting and retrieving? Sure! A couple of pages on casting and a whole chapter on retrieving. Any particular fly patterns? That too. Not many, but all major types and a very useful and complete selection.
Altogether an excellent coverage of this subject, which can seem like Greek or Latin to many of us, but becomes plain English in Paul Marriner's competent hands.
I can point out a couple of weak spots - not marring, but reason enough to hold back on the GFF rating. The book is in B/W, which is always a major complaint of mine. Modern books should be in color. This one is available in full color on a CD if you can live with not getting any dead trees. The print in the paperback is not able to lend justice to the pictures, which can be seen in full quality on the CD.
Some of the drawings are also a bit on the naive side. Charming, but not as professionally done as the illustrations of the food items and the schematic drawings illustrating boat tactics.
Apart from that the book fully earns an excellent rating on the GFF scale. It's the best and most thorough book I have read on the subject, and can be recommended to any stream fisher who wants to expand the available fishing waters by orders of a magnitude - turning featureless discs into interesting fishing water.