Oliver Edwards
Flytyers Masterclass

Reviewed by Martin Joergensen

Book coverDate: Thu, 20 Apr 1995 01:47:26 +0100 (MET)

G'day again book lovers,

I won't give up that easy. As nobody else seems to want to review books, I'll follow up my own recent reviews, that--if nothing else--sparked a few constructive comments.

This time it's another book that, however unlikely, has been of good use to me, even though it deals only with 'typical' trout flies for streams and not with my usual crude type of sea trout flies.

  • Oliver Edwards, Flytyers Masterclass. A step-by-step guide to tying 20 essential patterns for the flyfisher.
  • Published by Merlin Unwin Books, Ludlow UK, 1994
  • ISBN 1 873674 08 2
  • Price UKŁ 19.99 (On the cover. 22.99 including postage to Denmark directlyfrom Merlin Unwin)
When you take into consideration the size and volume of this book: large format and app. 250 pages, and the fact that it 'only' deals with 20 flies, it should be obvious that each fly is described in minute details. And it sure is.

Oliver Edwards is a well known British fly tyer, that writes in British magazines, and whose style of tying, describing and drawing will be known by many, especially European flyfishers. His style is quite unique in all three cases, although his drawings are even more than remarkably good and his flies are simply 'outta this world'.

His hallmark is the ultra-realistic fly. People who haven't seen his flies will not know exactly what can be put into that phrase. Many of Oliver Edwards' flies are not only imitations, carrying the special key characters of the natural, but exact replicas--models as someone put it--of the living insects.

As he himself puts it in the chapter on the baetis nymph:

'I'm a strong advocate of incorporating prominent or characteristic features of the natural nymph into my artificials, even to the extent of slightly exaggregating them'
In some cases prominent features will mean all features and exaggregating will mean subtle change in shape, size or color due to the nature of the materials chosen. Some of the flies are copies of the naturals, simple as that. Edwards' attention to detail is amazing.

This might sound hysterical, but it isn't. There are flies in this book, that resemble the flies we usually see in flyfishers boxes, but mostly the flies are almost exact imitations of specific insects in specific stages.

Edwards' base for this is a deep knowledge of entomology. Each description is opened with an introduction to the species, the biology and anatomical characteristics. The reader can use these sections or leave them. They contain a lot of information, but are not indispensable, if you just want to tie the fly. They do make a a lot of sense, though, when coupled with the supplementary patterns that is brought with each of the books key patterns.
Using the variations in the supplements and the biological information in the text, one can decide which material, color combination or technique to choose.

Each chapter describes one pattern and contains the entomological section, a section explaining why the materials used are chosen and the supplementary patterns. After this follows the tying instructions, that are broken down into numerous steps, each accompanied by both text and drawings. One fly can littarally be illustrated with dusins on drawings.

Contrary to many newer tying books, Edwards does not use photographs for his instructions. His B/W drawings are precise and each shows with extremely good clarity the operations involved. The advantage of drawings over photos is that each drawing focuses on a particular step or material, and the rest is 'unfocused' or simply not there. Edwards uses these drawings to illustrate sometimes very complex tying methods, that ends up being easily understood after all. Also the drawings are dynamic, showing movement and progress.

There are photos in the book, and if anything should be critisized in the book it must be them. They are beautiful, taken by Peter Gathercole, another well known British tyer, but the small flies are not easily seen on the often very confusing backgrounds. It's far from the standard in 'The Art of the Trout Fly').

I only tied a couple of the simplest patterns in this book, and will probably never be able to tie a lot of the rest. But nevertheless the book has been very usefull to me, as it shows a lot of techniques in very fine detail. This has made it possible for me to use some of the ideas in my own flies or add to classical patterns. Tying a Heptagenid nymph or a Jointed Ephemera nymph will not be an everyday thing to me, even with this book by my side, but still I can enjoy the Masterclass of Oliver Edwards, and get my moneys worth from this book. Everybody can learn something here.

Highly recommended.

User comments
From: David C. Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii · kawika4rotary·at·gmail.com  Link
Submitted May 8th 2012

There are many copies of this book available by searching www.abebooks.com my favorite used book store on the Internet. Although most of the ~$25 copies are only in good condition, the text should be good enough for careful study.

From: Bob Price · bdprice13·at·shaw.ca  Link
Submitted January 12th 2010

Does anyone have a contact number or e-mail for Oliver Edwards? I live in BC Canada. Please advise me via my e-mail. Tight lines to all!

From: Olli Rita · o_rita·at·bellsouth.net  Link
Submitted October 12th 2005

Finally found it @ $60.00 for a used one, little bit out of my league, thanks for the help, hope it comes back to print one of these days ;)

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted September 15th 2005


You might consider a mail to Coch-y-Bonddu, which carries a lot of used books and might get a used copy of this one now and then.


From: Olli Rita · o_rita·at·bellsouth.net  Link
Submitted September 15th 2005

Does anyone know where to get this book now a days, all I get is "out of print" answers.

any help appreciated.


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