Tying Classic Freshwater Streamers - An Illustrated Step-By-Step Guide
I'll be the first to admit it - I'm a streamer junkie. Whether it's fishing them, tying them, or reading about them, I just can't get enough. Write a book on streamers and/or bucktails for freshwater fish, be it ten pages or one thousand, and I can guarantee you'll have at least one sale - to me. Of course, if you're the editor of the nation's leading fly tying magazine, I suspect you'd move a few more copies than just my obligatory purchase.
So here we have the latest offering in the streamer book genre, by Dave Klausmeyer, editor of Fly Tyer magazine. This book is touted mainly as an instructional guide to tying the various styles of classic freshwater streamers. The hardcover layout is nice and easy on the eyes, with large color photos. It begins with some groundwork for tying streamers, including streamer anatomy and procurement of proper, quality featherwing materials. The latter will prove to be particularly valuable to the novice streamer tyer, potentially saving him a goodly amount of money on the erroneous purchases many of us have made along the learning curve.
As the title implies, the "meat' of the book guides the reader through a step-by-step tying tutorial of each of the main styles of streamers (and bucktails). This is done via such classic patterns such as the Gray Ghost (Carrie Stevens' "Rangeley style'), Chief Needahbeh (traditional featherwing), Governor Aiken (bucktail), Thunder Creek Series (Keith Fulsher's reverse-tied bucktail), Ballou Special (marabou wing) and the Gapen's combination-winged Muddler Minnow. The Gray Ghost tutorial (done in the Mike Martinek method) is as good as any I've seen (bar Martinek's tutorial video). Here, Mr. Klausmeyer astutely differentiates between the wing positioning and classification of the Carrie Stevens' style (or "Rangeley style') versus traditional featherwing, or what he terms 'upright featherwing'. An important detail lost on many a tyer.
The tutorial section as a whole is where this book really makes its mark. Every step of each style is presented clearly with detailed photography and accompanying text. Much of the instruction goes well beyond the rudimentary, offering tips and tricks to handling and tying in certain materials. There is also instruction on tying tandem streamers, featuring Klausmeyer's own stunning Blue Sapphire pattern. While I would have liked to see inclusion of flatwings (such as Joe's Smelt, or Jim Warner's 10-feather patterns - not the misnomered saltwater type), matukas (matukus) and zonkers, perhaps the author didn't feel these qualified as classic featherwings. At any rate, this instructional section will be a boon to those uninitiated with streamer tying and will likely prove an invaluable springboard to those wishing to learn how to competently tie the most common styles.
Additionally, what streamer book could be considered complete these days without a serious dose of streamer "eye-candy'? The rear third of the book is a gallery of streamers tied by such notables as Dick Talleur, Mike Martinek, Ed "Muzzy' Muzeroll, as well as regional tyers, the likes of Monte Smith, Gray Wolf, Stack Scoville, Selene Dumaine, Ron McKusick, Charlie Mann, Bob Upham and others. There is a mixture of classics and a surprising amount of modern patterns (given the books titling as "Tying Classic Featherwing Streamers"). All the gallery flies are shown in large, full color photos. We've come a long way since J. Edson Leonard's "Flies". Some of the flies included throughout may look familiar to readers of Fly Tyer. Talleur's tie of Oatman's Brook Trout (mis-named here as "Baby Brook Trout') stands out, as it appeared recently on a Fly Tyer cover.
While overall I found the book to be very well done, there are some flaws. Among the errors I thought should have been easily caught, I found Joe Stickney's well-known Supervisor pattern to be mis-credited to Carrie Stevens, the mis-spelling of Chief Needahbeh's name, and several silly mistakes in the bibliography. Additionally, with respect to the gallery fly photos, perhaps better choices might have been made in matching fly and background. This may be the cause of many of the vividly colored streamers appearing over-saturated, resulting in a fair amount of detail to be lost in some cases, at least in my copy. I also think the cover price is a bit high, although I'm sure it can be found online at a discount. One final thing that left me scratching my head, especially after seeing Dave's recent feature of Mr. Fulsher in the back of Fly Tyer, was why the Thunder Creek tutorial wasn't done by Keith Fulsher himself. No one ties them like Keith, so why not use the instruction of the master himself? Granted this last one is more of a personal wish - the obsessions of an admitted streamer nut. (I have since learned that Dave is working on revising and re-releasing Fulsher's classic "Tying and Fishing the Thunder Creek Series", so perhaps that is the reasoning here.)
At any rate, this is a nice addition to the streamer library that fills an important niche in the area of construction techniques. While many of these individual tying processes have been outlined over the years in various web and print articles, Klausmeyer does a nice job of bringing it all together in one reference book. This is primarily what sets it apart from some of the other pattern books that have been published to date with regard to streamers and bucktails. While the advanced streamer tyer may not find much in here that he doesn't already know, for the beginning to intermediate tyer looking to improve upon or expand the streamer styles and techniques of his tying arsenal (and fly wallet), this is sure to be a worthwhile purchase.