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|Fly's Bug-ology Course
Required Reading: "Serious River Rat Level"
By Jan Normandale
However this topic is a hot button for me. I think that unless you know what's happening on the bug scene when you are fishing, you're "up the creek". Yeah I know I'm always sayin' that there are too many guys that are kinda "retentive" if you get the idea, but you won't hear me getting on my high horse on this topic. It's essential in my opinion, so let's go to bug school. Remember failure here is failure on stream so get with the program.
We all know the general bugs, mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, Diptera, baitfish, and terrestrials. Yes, I left out crayfish, so sue me. What I want to do is go through the books that are significant for each of the fly fisher's insects and highlight the better ones based on a highly subjective and personal evaluation; mine.
This sport is heavily accented toward mayflies so we'll start here with these favourites of the trout and probably you too dear reader. Three flyfishing books that have a focus on entomology of the mayfly as an insect are "Mayflies the Angler and the Trout", "Meeting and Fishing the Hatches" and "Hatches II".
If forced to recommend just one it's Hatches II. This book covers the subject well and has lots of colour photos of nymphs, duns, and spinners. The major families, habitat, hatch charts, insect descriptions, holding water, are covered here as well as patterns, fishing advice and on and on. It's a significant work for the flyflicker by the charming duet of Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi. The thing about this book is that it was written with a slant towards the Northeastern U.S. The other two texts are honourable substitutes. Arbona's book "Mayflies and the Angler" is an excellent book and a highly acceptable text, I saw it remaindered last year for ten bucks if you can get a copy don't hesitate. Lots of good photos, hatch charts, patterns, and descriptions of the individual mayflies important to fisherwomen, oh yeah... fishermen too. Meck's book titled "Meeting and Fishing the Hatches " provides notated hatch charts and nice photos of mayfly bellies. Right on Charlie, you know what the trout see. Unfortunately photographers seldom show more than the profiles so this book has unique photos of mayflies.
Stones! Plecoptera! Whoa Nelly! These are the B 52's of the bug world for the trout and they love em. So how come there is so little on the topic? Probably because they are a tough bug to fish since they don't have the prolific hatches of mayflies and caddis. Still they are important trust me on this.
Books? Try two. One by the aforenoted Arbona with Swisher & Richards simply titled "Stoneflies". It has the same style and depth as his Mayflies book along with fishing perspectives from the tag team of Doug and Carl. This is my first choice by a small margin. The famous fly tyer Eric Leiser teamed up with Robert Boyle with to put out a companion to his caddis fly book and it is titled "Stoneflies for the Angler". Again lots of patterns descriptions, charts, blah blah blah. It is good, enough said there.
The last order is the good old caddis, and the definitive book here is Mr. Lafontaine's "Caddisflies". Like the others discussed here it covers everything you would want to know and is a benchmark. "The Caddis and the Angler" is Eric Leiser's and Larry Solomon's contribution and it's a good one for the flyfisher.
Honourable mentions go to Ernest Schweibert for his classic "Nymphs", Swisher & Richards for their invaluable "Emergers", McCafferty for his very significant tome "Aquatic Entomology" and Almy for "Tying & Fishing Terrestrials"
There ya go. Tests will be this spring by that tough teacher, Mr. Brown, in his classroom at yer local trout stream. As for me, I'm pourin' a bourbon and puttin' on some Billie Holliday. Don't fail, make me proud.
Yeah... but! Okay okay I hear ya! So for our pals on the other side of the pond here are a couple of books that are worth a look. They are not focused singly on the individuals comprising the big three but they are good.
France, don'tcha just love a country with wine, cheese the Eiffel tower and trout? I sure do. So check out the native son Charles Gaidy's "Ephemeras". All I can say there is Wow! This is a major work and a visual treat. Lotsa stuff you don't see or hear from this side. Thanks Charles.
Excuse me but my Austrian, German, Czechoslovakian and Australian aren't up to speed. Britain I can read, so a classic that still looks good to me is, sit down, Courtney Williams "A Dictionary of Trout Flies" whatta great work this one is. It could only have been written by a true lover of the sport.
There are other texts I could mention but the point of this column is to communicate. Some books are scarce and hard to come by or are incredibly expensive. So I don't discuss those books unless I'm writing about collectibles. I've deliberately omitted these texts. For example Martin Mosely's text on British Caddis flies as a supplement to Halford's Dry Fly series. Enough said on this topic.
So get out there and read up a storm on these favourite bugs of the trout and have fun. Remember too much book learning can displace your sport. So when you're done go catch and release a technical trout. Please?
The Old Flyfisher sez good Luck!
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