Published Oct 29. 2002 - 16 years ago
Updated or edited Jul 13. 2017


Western Fisherman's Press
Publishing year: 
Fly fishing the Flats - Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit, Trevally
Randall Kaufmann
Reviewed by: 

I wanna go Bonefishing!

And thanks to Randall Kaufmann's gorgeous book I can — on paper at least. His book Bonefishing! is a true masterpiece in contemporary fly fishing literature.

The magnitude of this book alone was enough to stir my interest when I first saw it at a fly show in The Netherlands. The photo on the front page just wet my appetite further, and letting my fingers run through the pages definitely assured me that I needed to get to know this book better. It's drop dead gorgeous as they say in the UK.

Now, people who know me know that my salt water fishing is a far cry from the tropical fishing, which is covered in this book. Actually my warmest fishing days are probably colder than the coldest fishing day in any of the locations covered in this volume.

But that has not hindered me in being overly eager to read it from cover to cover. And that is quite a feat. The book is large format and the last page number is 415.
But as I said: the way it presents itself drags you in, and before you know it you are taking a virtual World tour of the best tropical salt water destinations with the author and his photographer Brian O'Keefe, aided by the illustrator Mike Stidham.

Every page is a feast in the bluest skies, the clearest waters, the whitest beaches and the shiniest bonefish you can imagine. The visual qualities are unsurpassed, and once the pictures have enticed you, you start reading.
In the beginning you browse captions — just inspired by the pictures, but soon you discover the structure of the book and start reading in a more systematic manner.
It starts with a general intro to the subject of fishing the tropics, and — in spite of the title — not only for bonefish. The book covers the natural history, topography of the locations, tides, weather and more. Then it tells about the food items, fly selection and tactics: how to spot the fish, cast and fish for them. The main topic is bonefish, but all other relevant species get covered too.
About half way through the book the tackle is described and as a last part of this half you get a lecture in selecting guides and how to venture off by yourself.

After this comes an equally fascinating coverage of all bonefish locations from Bahamas to Yucatan. Twelve major areas all together. Each area described with respect to fishing conditions, traveling, accommodation, guiding and much more. The high seasons are pointed out and every spot and characteristic seems to be illustrated with a photo and the ambience is supported with beautiful paintings.

When I inquired Randall Kaufmann about the book, he replied: 'It was a project that took on a life of its own. It just didn't want to end and Brian kept the photos coming'.

And true, Brian O'Keefe must have kept those photos coming! They are of an exquisite quality. The best shots and angles, the best composition and exposure and luxuriously reproduced. The lay outer has used this raw material to the utmost. Her name is Joyce Sherman, by the way, and she deserves credit as well as the three gentlemen.
The layout of the book is elegant, discrete and very consistent, which lets the illustrations get the dominating role they deserve.

At first they steal the picture — if you will excuse the term. But after having stared yourself blue in the face and read only captions, you start drifting off into the body text. And if things weren't already on a high roll, the text appears to be equally good and will seduce your like the pictures have done when you first start reading.
Randall Kaufmann also takes us on small excursions into anecdotes and personal experiences in the different locations and relates many facts to his own trips to these many fascinating places.
The author leaves no doubt that he knows what he is talking about. It would seem hard to find a better authority on bonefishing than Mr. Kaufmann, whose prose on the matter is both highly informative and entertaining. The book will teach us everything from packing a hip bag over choosing a fly to calculating the right distance for perfect casts in front of a cruising bonefish.

Kaufmann has surpassed himself as a writer and produced a book, which I cannot recommend enough. As I said: I have never been there, but might go some day. Until then this book will be located close to my bed, on my coffee table and next to my tying bench, within easy reach. I have shown it to all my guests since I got it, and every single one will leaf through it in awe — fishers and non-fishers alike.
In these coming months and years it will surely take me on many a daydream trip to places where the sky is blue, the water is clear and bonefish roam.

Ultra global class!


I have always liked ...

I have always liked the Kaufmann books. I come in their store now and then. Good review!


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