Dave Whitlock

Dave Whitlock's guide to aquatic trout foods

Reviewed by Martin Joergensen

Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 15:29:06 +0100 (MET)

Time again book lovers,

Nothin' but reading to do for a salt water fisher in these parts of the world. The sea is much to hot to fish, and the nearest stream is so far away (and low BTW).

Books... You can always read a book then. I've read a lot of books this summer. One of the books I read was this one:

    Dave Whitlock: Dave Whitlock's Guide to aquatic trout foods.
    Published by Lyons and Burford, New York, 1982
    Price: US$ 22.95 (on the cover of the paperback edition)
    ISBN: 1-55821-202-7
Let me say this right away: this is an outstanding book. Some may argue that it is not the best -- I wouldn't know, I haven't read them all. But it sure is a fine book.

For people like me who are fairly new to stream fishing and fly tying, this book puts a lot of stuff in its right place. We've all heard the words; spinner, emerger, caddises, mayflies and so on, but I'd bet that a lot of you -- like me -- never really could find your way in all these terms and their proper use and their fly counterparts.

Even though I knew a lot about stream biology (I admit it: I'm a biologist, althoug a marine one) I never really was quite at ease with the english and fishermans terms terms for all those groups of animals and their life cycles. Dave Whitlock's book helped me a lot there.

Also I was not nearly sure enough about what to use or how to fish it at a certain stream under certain conditions. This book also filled large holes here.

The book is actually quite systematic. Dave Whitlock deals with all important fresh water trout food species; from mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies to fish, scuds, shrimps and leeches. Every group is descibed in detail: life cycle, which is very important to understand -- especially when it comes to insects, morphology, habitus and how to imitate them. Concerning imitations Dave Whitlock deals with the flies as well as tactics. This is a great advantage to people like myself who can tie a stream fly from description, but only rarely know how to fish it.

The book starts out with a general overview of the concept of imitating followed by a chapter on 'water'. This again is followed by a large chapter on the morpholgy, physiology and life of the trout itself. This chapter can seem a bit intimidating, but skip it if you're not comfortable with the 'scienctific stuff' and return to it later. The fly chapters are much more easlily read.

The patterns are all fairly simple and easy to tie. There's typically one pattern for each stage of each group of animals. Some flies are presented with two different patterns using different materials or techniques. The absolute beginner should be warned though, because even though the patterns are very easy, there's no actual step-by-step tying instructions and 'only' a B/W drawing of the finished fly. But with just a bit of skill there should be no problems tying these patterns. I'm not saying that this is not a beginners book, but just sayng that it's not a 'How-to-tie-flies' book.

The drawings are very important in this book. They fall in four categories:

  • scientific or schematic drawings,
  • drawings of fish in the water, chasing and eating
  • drawings of insects and flies. These are all B/W.
  • The fourth category is in the middle of the book: large section with color plates of all the mentioned food species.
All the drawing are a treat: nice to look at and very informative.

Also the book is printed on a large format paper, so there's lots of room for large and clear drawings.

My conclusion is: if you're new in this stream fishing game, get this book. It's a great source of systematic info on trout food. It contains a balanced text on all important issues: feeding habits, life cycles, imitations and equipment and strategies. It's a highly usefull book, both for general reading and as a systematic handbook.

Happy reading

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