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First published October 1st 1999 - More than 15 years ago
The South African Fly Fishing Handbook
Reviewed by Steve Schweitzer
Date: October 1999
Dean Riphagan's book, "The South African Fly Fishing Handbook" arrived
at my doorstep, I could only imagine what was inside the package. Would the book
contain some patterns I could use in the States? Would the book contain some tips or
re-enforcing basics that everyone could use? How about pictures of trout in Africa?
When I think of Africa, I think of what the colonized press portrays: desert,
elephants, zebras, lions...all the wildlife that a harsh winter in the States wouldn't
take kindly to. And what about fishable trout water in Africa?
The book is organized by pattern type and offers a small compendium of knowlege for each pattern. As an example, the pattern pages for a Filoplume Damsel include a brief study of the damsel fly and its habitat, a fishing techniques section and complete tying instructions.
The book doesn't introduce much in the way of innovative patterns as my curiosity would have hoped for a book highlighting African fly-fishing. But, I'm sure the author didn't intend the book to be a specialty on African-only patterns. In reality, are there any geograhic-specific patterns?! No, all patterns will work in all places. So my curiosity was put at bay.
The book features some supurb photography of the author and his closest fishing friends catching colorful specimens of African waters. Maybe a little too heavy in the area of friend-holding-fish catagory, but that is just a quirk of mine: I don't need to see people-holding-fish pictures. I want to see pictures of water, how-to-fish it, and detailed photographs of pattern tying intricacies. So, before I get too critical, Riphagen mixes in many photographs of just what I am looking for.
Chart in over 400 detailed photographs of tying steps, 100+ scenic photos of South African trout landscape, and line drawings to augment photography and you have a 192 page book of 50 patterns and how to fish them. Take out the notion of South Africa and this book is a universal manual on fly-fishing and fly tying. For a learning fly-tyer, this book is an equisite addition to a pattern library. For the seasoned angler, the value is in the photography and fishing techniques descriptions.
As with most books being published today, crystal clear photography sets apart the top-shelf's from the dust-collectors. I value the book in presentation and attention to detail in selecting illustrations and photos over the pattern content. Buy this book if you are a beginner to intermediate flytyer or buy this book if you want striking photos of places you may never fish. Don't buy this book anticipating to see patterns treats from South Africa: the patterns used there are the patterns you use at home. As the title suggests: it's a handbook. I'm considering using it in my fall tying classes this year. Bottom line: you won't be dissapointed in your purchase.