The Global FlyFisher
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I have been following Canadian Darren MacEachern's Streamers 365 project for a while, and I have covered it here on GFF before.
In short the concept has been to publish one new streamer pattern each day during 2012, which in itself is a major feat, but when each pattern is followed by a beautiful image of the fly and when the fly has been tied by one of a large number of contributors, the odyssey is no less than awesome.
And Darren has done just that: gathered streamers from contributors all over the world, photographed them and published one new pattern each day for a year.
One result is the excellent site streamers365.com, but another result is a set of three books each containing about 120 patterns - plus one volume that contains all of them.
I have been waiting for the third volume - not as much to be able to review it, because it is much as the two previous ones - but to be able to hold and photograph all three at once, and really feel the weight and get the impression of this amazing collection of fly pictures and patterns.
You can find all the material online, and even find more details about them and about the tyers on the web site. On the Streamers 365 site you will also find more flies than in the books, because the project continues with new flies being added, so you actually don't need to own the books in order to get the information.
But it feels very good to hold the physical expression of the project in my hands. The books simply give a better impression of the volume of this work, and beautiful books are more beautiful than beautiful web sites.
And these books are indeed beautiful. Not only are the flies breathtakingly beautiful with their characteristic elongated shape, plenty colorful materials and colossal variation, but Darren's photography is also top notch with a surprising variation in the simple setup of a fly lying flat on a background.
He uses a large number of different background textures from uniform colors over feathers to stones and wood and all kinds of materials. Each image is a small work of art, not only because of the fly, but because of the photography.
Each fly has a page with a picture dominating the top and a short description and a materials list in the bottom. Everything is kept in a simple and uniform layout, which steals no attention from the all dominating photos, but still gives the facts, which are such a great supplement to the images.
The books are self-published and available in several qualities at varying prices. The luxury, image-wrapped versions aren't cheap, but you can opt for the softcover edition, which are still around 50 US$, but definitely worth the money. If you are not into dead trees, there's a PDF-version for 10 US$ per volume.
You might argue that almost endless rows of similar flies presented in a similar fashion might be a bit boring in the long run, but that absolutely isn't the case here. I have shown these books to several of my fly-tying friends, and all have been silent for quite a long time while leafing through them. For the average fly tyer it's simply fascinating to look at, but for the streamer aficionado this is a feast with almost endless pages of beautifully tied flies, their history and the materials listed.
I have also shown the books to non-fly-tying friends and family, and even they appreciate the art shown here, and might not be quite as fascinated as we fly-tyers, but can still be mesmerized by the colors and construction of the long winged streamers.
For the streamer fan there's no way around these books - and the whole project - which will have to be considered a landmark in streamer literature and history. In my eyes the whole project belongs up there with the classic landmarks in streamer tying and deserves both applaud and support.