Published Jan 1. 1999 - 24 years ago
Updated or edited Jul 13. 2017

Book review: A Perfect Fish

illusions in fly tying
Ken Abrames
Frank Amato Publications, Inc., Portland, OR
Publishing year: 
Reviewed by: 

A fantastic and fascinating striper book by the author of "Striper Moon"

If you - like I - was intrigued, fascinated and inspired by Ken Abrames' book "Striper Moon", his new book on the subject of stripers, fishing for them and tying flies for them will kick the legs away under you. It is gorgeous!
The philosophy behind the new book entitled "The Perfect Fish" is similar to what I found in Striper Moon. Abrames has once again collected tokens of his deep-felt respect for the fish and the art of tying flies to catch it in a fairly modestly looking book. But looks deceive.
Abrames' prose and poetry surrounds his fantastic paintings and subdued drawings. Yes, poetry! Small poems express some of the experiences and feelings the author has for the species, fishing and fly tying. And it works! I have spent hours on end leafing through the book just engulfing the whole aesthetic impression - not reading as such, but just experiencing the book.

OK, I know you want to ask. "How about the fishing content? Do we learn something? Will we catch more stripers after having read this book?"
Will you be surprised if I answer yes to all these questions? It is a yes. This book will teach you a lot about striper fishing and tying striper flies. But in a different manner. This is not a Kreh book - even though Kreh wrote the foreword. This is not Kaufmann or Tabory. These and many other authors have their ways of teaching us, while this book has another approach. It is hard to explain, but the journey through the pages is a fascinating one, which takes you from facts to beautiful paintings to mesmerizing prose and poetry back to facts. Some readers might not like this fashion, but rest assured that I do! Abrames' way is different in the most liberating manner.

I digress. The fishing facts... yes, they are there. And in full measure. Abrames covers about 90 different striper patterns, he covers selection of materials, fishing the flies and a lot of other aspects. Abrames' patterns and instructions are clear and easy to understand. The list contains well known and less known patterns. On the cover you will find the stimulating sub-subtitle "The R.L.S. Method for Creating the Illusion of Life in Fresh and Saltwarer Flies". The abbreviation RLS keeps popping up all over the book, but I did not find the explanation until one of the very last pages, where you can read: "R.L.S. stands for Roccus Leneatus Saxatilis the old latin name for stripes bass which seems to reflect the spirit of the fish much better than the modern latin name. A perfect name for a perfect fish."
This statement is very typical for the tone of voice in the book, and clearly expresses Abrames' respect for the striper. The modern Latin name for stripers is Morone saxatilis if anybody should wonder.

This is not a book about tactics like the Striper Moon, but it will make you a wiser striper fisherman. As you might guess I have not bought this book only to become a better striper fisherman. The nearest striped bass is thousands of miles and months away from my Danish home waters. No, I have bought this book to enjoy its beauty, embedded in text, poetry, paintings and fly patterns - and become a wiser fly fisherman altogether.

I cannot recommend it warmly enough.

Ken Abrames
A Perfect Fish - Illusions in Fly Tying
Frank Amato, Portland, 1999
ISBN: 1-57188-138-7
Size: softcover, Letter format - 112 pages
Price: approx. US$29.- (available in hardcover at approx. US$39.-)


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