Author: Emrys Evans
Reviewed by Martin Joergensen The story of this books is a fascinating one. The author Emrys Evans passed away in 2008 at the age of 91. In his life he had collected Welsh fly patterns. He was also a historian of Welsh fishing, and kept notes about the flies. After his death these notes were turned into a book manuscript by Geraint Vaughan Jones and the flies were photographed by his son-in-law Gareth Tudor Jones. These illustrations and the text was turned into a limited edition book on the special Welsh lake flies, and this books was picked up by Richard Lewis and Paul Morgan, who translated it from Welsh to English and published it through Paul's Coch-y-Bonddu Books.
A long story, but also a good example of how exotic and rare books can find their way to the market. I'm sure that lots of book manuscripts float around on the desks and in the drawers of many fly tyers and anglers around the world. I have a few such special titles in my collection, which could deserve a wider audience, and books like Danish Preben Torp Jacobsen's spring to mind.
This book is based on a collection of 133 Welsh flies, collected and documented by the author, and photographed by his son-in-law. The quality of the photography is excellent, which can not be said about the quality of the flies. Not that it's a problem, because this is a collection of original flies, and as most of us know, the average fly in not necessarily well tied, but can be equally efficient in spite of that. You will see a lot of ugly heads, a lot of "bearded" flies and some very uneven bodies. Most of these flies are really simple flies, most of them built over the scheme: no tail, ribbed body, hackle and a feather wing. The differences lie in the choice of materials and colors, and to a non-fly-tier they may seem very alike, but to the rest of us the subtle and not so subtle differences make the book a very nice tour of Welsh flies.
Most of them look very, very fishy! It's a style of fly, which we see all to rarely these days. Even so they are very popular. We can just look at the statistics for this site, where classical wet flies are amongst the most popular patterns here.
In Plu Stiniog you get your heart's desire of classical flies. Most of them are wet flies in the classical tradition, but you will also find dry flies and nymph like patterns, although surprisingly few of them have no feather wing. There is a bunch of spider or flymph patterns and again with subtle yet obvious variations.
Each pattern has a thorough description with origin and tips on fishing as well as a full list of materials.
I get a total kick from the original names, and who wouldn't want to fish a Troellwr Mawr Pen-ffridd, a Rhwyfwr Mawr Gwyrdd or a Ceiliog Hwyad Corff Coch? As long as you don't have to pronounce the names, that is! The names are translated in the book, but very few of them are recognizable, even though the flies themselves will easily be recognized as brethren of Zulus, March Browns and Partridge and Whatever flies, which are well know in the fly fishing community.
The book is not a coffee table book, has no grand Welsh landscapes or exciting stories about fishing the flies. But it's an important documentation of a fly tying and fly fishing tradition, which has very clearly set its mark on contemporary fly patterns, not least the British stillwater flies.