Salmon flies - Their Character, Style and Dressing
To review this book is like kicking in an open door - a door, which was opened a few decades ago. So many people have praised it before me, and its influence has been so phenomenal that anything but a Global Class score would make little sense.
The impact of Poul Jorgensen on contemporary salmon fly tying - or rather contemporary salmon fly tiers - is massive. His book brought the craftsmanship and art of these gaudy yet practical and beautiful full dressed salmon flies to the attention of a whole generation of new tiers.
In 1978 when this book first came out I was in the transition between college and university and had barely started my "career" in fly-fishing and fly tying.
But I met Poul Jorgensen.
Since he was born in Denmark he regularly returned to visit friends and family. During his stays he would often teach classes or perform tying demonstrations, and I had the good fortune of seeing him on several such occasions.
People who knew Poul knows that he was quite a pragmatic fly tyer. His aim was to get the job done and tie a fly, which was mainly for fishing, but at the same time was beautiful and not least well proportioned and symmetrical. His fly tying was very functional, but at the same time very attentive to detail and craft. He would be able to teach the attendants a new little trick for almost any tying step, no matter whether he tied full dressed salmon flies or simple pike flies.
This book is a collection of such tricks, centered on salmon flies and covering every aspect from full dressed feather wings to simple hair winged flies.
Looking at the book today may at first leave the impression of a fairly drab book with much text and little visual appeal. The B/W images are not up to today's standards and the color plates so common back then seem a little old fashioned now.
But you have to remember that this book is now about 30 years old and from a time where this was the standard. In Jorgensen's case I would even argue that the quality is way above the standard back then. His generous use of photos for single tying steps, his pictures of the prepared materials and the way these images follow the progression of the flies he ties, is way up there, where modern books only started to be years later.
The more artful pictures that start each chapter clearly shows that Jorgensen was an accomplished photographer, and that the good results with respect to depicting details in methods and textures in materials was no coincidence.
The text is short and to the point, and in spite of the book being quite compressed it's an easy read. Its 250 pages cover everything from hooks over materials to the varying fly types. Jorgensen writes about strip wings, feather wings, low water flies, hair wings, dries and nymphs, prawns and grubs, Waddington shanks, Dee and Spey flies and tube flies.
Each type is illustrated with one or more example flies and followed by a list of other dressings. His choice of patterns has taken flies, which were already classics and lifted them to stardom: Blue Charm, Jock Scott, Rusty Rat, Royal Wulff, Bomber, G.P. and many more. Hordes of skilled as well as wanna-be salmon fly tiers have probably cranked out these patterns with Jorgensen's book by their side and I have personally heard several World Class salmon fly tiers tell how Jorgensen and his book inspired them.
And any salmon fly tier, seasoned or beginner, should have this book on their bookshelf. The original price was about 40 US$, but I managed to pick one up at a show in the States for only 7 dollars! Can you say bargain?!
But even at a much higher price, it's worth every dime. It can serve both as a very useful and practical instruction book as well as a historical document marking the beginning of the "second era" of the full dressed salmon fly.
Truly Global Class!
PS: notice that this book was redone by the author with color photos and revised text. I have the Danish edition of this book, which covers almost the same subjects and flies as the original, but in some ways it lacks the charm of the original. The English version is available from Stackpole Books for US$ 40.-. It might be both better and more beautiful - all pictures are in color - but if you can get your hands on the original, get that... too...