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Ten Flies Simple Ties - (for bass, panfish, & trout) - Glenn and Andrea Van Benschoten - book review(for bass, panfish, & trout)
Author: Glenn and Andrea Van Benschoten
Reviewed by Bob Petti
I have been interested in woodworking since I was a kid. (Bear with me - this will have some fly fishing relevance soon enough). My Dad made all sorts of things for the house - side tables, shelves, cabinets - and I enjoyed my days as his helper in the garage. Even as an adult, I will tape and watch woodworking shows on the weekends and sit in the family room and dream of having my own shop where I can make stuff like my Dad did. I'm at the point where I'm starting to consider gathering some tools, so I've ordered some catalogs and some books and have started digging in deeper.
A well stocked woodworker's catalog will put any fly tying catalog to shame, and there are entire books devoted to attaching two pieces of wood, which is analagous to having an entire book related to the pinch-and-loop or a whip finish. It goes on from there. I bought a book on how to use a table saw, and there is an entire chapter devoted to the dangers of kickback and how to avoid injuring yourself. For someone who is starting totally from scratch with just a pair of hands and a credit card, it is extremely intimidating. After all, I don't know anyone who's lost a finger or been hit in the gut with a flying piece of wood while tying flies. The most pain I've inflicted on myself is gouging a finger on a hook point or dumping a bottle of head cement in my lap. Yeah - while wearing shorts. Ouch. (Worst part was the dumb idea to clean it up with cement thinner).
This is where Andrea and Glenn Van Benschoten fit in. They are doing for fly fishing and fly tying what I am hoping someone will do for woodworking - help the newbie overcome those initial feelings of FUD - Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
Their first book is entitled "Ten Flies Simple Ties (for bass, panfish, and trout)", and as you can tell from the title and from my lengthy buildup, the emphasis is on making things easy for the first timer.
Of the ten flies demonstrated in the book, only one has more than two materials in use - the classic and legendary Wooly Worm. A few, in fact, are tied with just a hook, thread, and one additional material. The point is to create flies that will catch fish without requiring a master's class in fly tying, while teaching some of the most basic fly tying skills that will lay a foundation for further learning with different materials and more complicated flies. You will not find a "Copper bead headed, hare's ear, silver ribbed flashback rubber legged micro stonefly nymph" in the hook. You'll find things like a foam caddis, a dubbed ant, and a simple sparkle nymph.
Neither the book nor the flies are intended to produce oooh's and ahhh's from the fly tying lords and masters. We've alread mentioned that the flies are simple and straightforward, but the book is as well. It is self published, printed on heavy semi-gloss stock, and folded and stapled in the middle much like a magazine. There is an occasional depth-of-field or focus issue with the photographs, but certainly nothing that detracts from their educational value. After a brief introduction and a couple pages of general instruction, the book settles into a groove of two pages per fly. Each fly has a larger photo of the finished fly, the pattern listing, some supporting text, and then a set of step-by-step instructions with both photos and text. Even if you've never tied a fly in your life, I'm pretty sure you can follow along and end up with flies very similar to those shown, which is the entire point of the book.
I'm sure newbies to fly fishing, and especially fly tying, feel the same sense of fear and "what am I getting into?!?" that I am feeling about woodworking. Everything seems easy once you know how to do it, but that first step is always the most difficult. Andrea and Glenn are doing their best to make that first step as fun and free of anxiety as possible. Good on them!
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