Match fishing is not very popular in the US. There are a few events such as the Jackson Hole "One Fly" contest, but these are few and far between, and often the purpose of the event is to raise money for environmental purposes or some other similar good cause. The idea of fishing as a team sport - with winners and losers and national pride at stake - has not taken hold here in the United States outside of a few who have participated in international events. It's a shame in some respects - as many of the new innovations in trout fishing techniques and flies have become popular through these events - Czech nymphing being but a single example. For those of us who are interested in learning new techniques to catch fish - we would be well advised to look over the shoulders of these match fisherman. The point of the match is to catch fish - not look pretty - and very few among us couldn't use an extra trick up our sleeves when it is time to fish our own rivers.
The book "Secret Flies of the Czech and Slovak Fly-Tiers" is like a giant peek into the fly boxes of some of the best match fishermen on the planet. The intent is just that - to have these talented and innovative fishermen share their favorite secret weapon flies with the rest of us. This isn't a random "bunch of flies" book, but rather a compendium of answers to the question "what are your favorite flies".
Each chapter in the book opens with a bit of biography on the tier whose flies are to be shown. One after another, you read about competitions - the World Championships, the European Championships - each angler clearly relishing their participation both as an angler in the event as well as a representative of their country. Both their passion and their experience make me stand up and take notice.
After the bio page, the rest of each chapter is a series of fly recipes - two per page. Each fly has an excellent photograph along with the recipe for the fly and some notes about how the fly is intended to be used. The flies cover the entire range of trout flies - streamers, wet flies, nymphs, and dry flies, but without counting I would judge that nymphs represent the largest portion of flies shown. In some cases the materials used may sound unfamiliar, but the photos are clear enough that any clever tyer should be able to find a suitable alternative that is more readily available.
I have no quibbles with this book. There is something here for every trout angler, and for those who have grown tired with the "same old", there is plenty of fresh ideas here to keep you filling fly boxes all winter long.
Available from www.flyfishingpoint.net.