Darrel Martin


Reviewed by Martin Joergensen

Date: Wed, 5 Apr 1995 00:30:35 +0100 (MET)

Hi fellow book lovers,

Seen in the light of the fair reception (sic!) of my review of Judith Dunhams Trout Fly book, I won't hesitate to take on another one. I do not hope that others from FLYFISH@ have had the same idea, but wouldn't know, as my digests have been missing for a couple of days now.

On with todays book, which is quite a lot more heavy than Judith Dunhams's book in more than one sense.

  • Darrel Martin, Micropatterns: tying and fishing the small fly
  • Published by Lyons & Buford, New York, 1994
  • ISBN 1-55821-260-4
  • Price US$ 40.- (On the cover. I paid -- as usual -- almost the double in Denmark)
As already mentioned you get your moneys worth in weight. The book is a large format book with more than 300 pages. The size alone can make this book a bit scary, and innocent flytyers who leaf through it, will probably be intimidated by the huge volume of information.

After the first look one can feel overwhelmed by the number of accurate drawings of naturals, electron micrographs of materials, curves showing hook strengths and diagrams showing how to tie up furled leaders.

And, indeed, it is overwhelming. I normally have no problems digesting the 'scientific' type of information (being a biologist), but even so, I can find it hard find a way through and between all these data.

Starting from one end, reading on, will easily break ones neck. The foreword and preface by Goddard and Leeson are appetizers, Martins own intro is slightly poetic and all call for more. But then you stumble right on into a large chapter on the insects. Here the different genuses, families and species are covered in a semi-systematic order, with morphological descriptions, biology and drawings. I must admit that as a biologist I find it slightly messy and as a flytyer slightly useless. There are lots of references to flytying, but I find the drawings much too detailed and they cover almost only larvae and nymphs and few adults. Key characters should have more attention and details less. Seen from my point of view a few, central characters must be more important, when tying these small sizes.

After this you'll find chapters on tools, materials, hooks and tying methods. Of these the material section is highly usefull, although still stuffed with data like hair thicknesses, diagrams of skins and masks and scanning electron micrographs. I find them informative, and to me this chapter explains a lot of things, but then again... I'm a sucker for electron micrographs ;-)

After this we find the patterns, which account for 50 pages with what seems to be mostly known patterns in microversions. Some are described in details, while others consist of a list of materials and a short text. The last section of this chapter consists of color photos, wich support some of the patterns in a fine way.

Martin leaves nothing untouched, and both rods, reels, lines and leaders gets his attention, and his long section on furled leaders is very interesting, but maybe a little too special to have general appeal.

One thing surprises me about Martins book. In some chapters, like the ones on insects, materials and hooks, he is very advanced and higly sophisticated, giving attention to the most astounding details and delivering colossal amounts of raw data. In others he seems suddenly removed from the science, and back in beginners class explaning how to do dubbing brushes and which way to twist dub on a thread to obtain a tight body.

This makes the book seem oddly unfocused. No doubt only the more advanced flytyer will get full value of its information, but on the other hand such a person might find it cumbersome to go through fairly basic stuff once again.

Still, in spide of all my critical points, I find this a very valuable and usefull book -- even for me that rarely (if ever) tie a fly smaller than size 18 and normally fish with huge irons size 8, 6 and 4. Hidden on this vast plain of information, one finds very usefull techniques, new and different views and thoughtfull anecdotes, that all in all make up very good reading.

Still I would have prefered a smaller and less omnipotent book, that covered it's subject: small flies and the essential information and opinions concerning their design, tying and fishing.

User comments
From: Fly Guy · troesch·at·ipa.net  Link
Submitted November 21st 2009

I'll have to "burn money" on this book it sounds like; the info on dubbing will be beneficial.

I started fishing #20 or smaller in 2001; starting with dries (that's only the last 20% of the insect's life). After that discovery, backed with Fishing Results in spread sheets starting in 2001; rarely do I use a Dry even if a hatch is in progress.

The book "Midge Magic" co-authored by Holbrook/Koch really opened my eyes & got me "on track". The book is worth the price alone to learn "The Knot", both minimal as it is strong. Bulky knots w/8-6X tippet will warn the fish "things aren't right".

In addition to a great purchase of a VHS: "Tying Tiny Dries" by A.K. Best; I almost wore it out.

More solutions & problems await....

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