GFF book review

Taking Trout

Author: Dave Hughes
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Dave Hughes
Taking Trout
Stackpole Books, 2002

GFF rating: 5 out of 7

Reviewed by Bob Petti

Good, Solid, Practical Advice for Fly Fishing Stream and Stillwaters

Geez - with a subtitle like that, what more is there that can be said?

Like a few others books that have come across my desk this year, Taking Trout is a compilation of previously published material. As a frequent contributor to many outdoor magazines, Dave must have had a huge inventory of material to draw from when piecing together the chapters in this book. I can imagine one of the biggest challenges was to make them all seem relevant and connected - while avoiding redundancy. It's good that the title allows for quite a bit of lattitude in the subject matter - if it pertains to catching trout then it is fair game.

Fortunately for me, in this instance at least, I'm not up-to-date on all of these outdoors magazines so many of the chapters in Taking Trout were fresh reading.

While the book is instructive in nature - that does not preclude it being a good read. Dave has an informal and conversational voice in his writing, a tone I find quite enjoyable. He's neither preachy, self serving, nor overly self deprecating. He acknowledges that he knows how to catch trout (or else it would be sort of silly for him to be writing such a book), but he doesn't whack you upside the head with the fact.

In many cases, he teaches by example. He takes us fishing with him, often telling us how he was messing things up, what he figured out, and then offering a full treatise on the subject. In "Short-Line Dry Fly", for example, he starts off with a story about fishing with AK Best and company, and how it took some time before he stopped casting lone graceful lines like his friends and started working up close like he needed to on the water he was fishing. In "Nymphs on the Swing", he takes us fishing with "Tex" Baxter where he got a lesson about not relying too heavily on all the standard theories of technique or streamcraft.

This isn't an all-encompassing book on trout fishing. It won't take a beginner from choosing equipment to the first trout. Instead, it is a diverse collection of essay on varying topics that are meant to stand alone as individual lessons in the art of "Taking Trout". The topics range from those as specific as "Slicks in Riffled Water", to those as general as "Stillwater Strategy".

One chapter I found particularly interesting was "Spike Camping for Fly Fishing". It is something that I simply have no experience with, so I read that chapter with utmost fascination. For weekend warriors like myself, this is what we dream of. Sure - it's nice to learn how to fish pockets or bank water - but we do that anyway. The in's and out's of camping and going "back country" for a fishing trip - even a solo trip - are brand new. The images are exotic and enticing. It sounds like a heck of a lot of fun and I hope that someday I have the chance to give it a try. The demands of job and family make such things very difficult.

Compilation books are not my personal favorite - I prefer that magazine articles stay in magazines and books should be written as books. Many magazine articles rely so heavily on visuals - photos of flies or insects, maps, diagrams, illustrations - that the text is rather anemic without them. I wonder how much Dave had to re-work his articles to make them complete in a non-visual medium (this is a text book - no pictures or drawings). It is a credit to his talent as a writer that Dave is able to make each chapter complete without the added glossy material that may have accompanied them in their prior life.

The bottom line to this book is the subtitle. I defy a trout angler to read this book and not learn something. Dave knows trout fishing.

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