Published Jun 30. 2019 - 4 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 9. 2021

Book review: Fly Fishing Treasures

The World of Fly Fishers and Collecting

I didn’t know that I was interested in collecting fly fishing paraphernalia – until I read Steve Woit’s book

Steve Woit
Publishing year: 
US$ or 60 GP£
Reviewed by: 

Collector, author and fly fisher Steve Woit sent me a mail. "Would you be interested in receiving a review copy of my new book 'Fly Fishing Treasures' for review on Global Fly Fisher?"
Does Martin want a fly fishing related book for review?
Does the pope wear a funny hat?
Does the bear *beep* in the woods?
Yes, yes and yes!
I hit reply within seconds, confirming my interest, and Steve replied with a promise to get a copy my way as soon as possible.

I did what I often do: embarked on a brief research journey online. What I found was quite intriguing: seemingly a large and beautiful looking book on the subject of collecting things related to fly fishing. Jumping between the book's own web site and various other sites, I realized that this was a self-published book. Self-publishing is becoming more and more common, especially these days where publishers may be reluctant to take on books, which don't have a large, almost guaranteed audience. And I'm sorry to say so, but a coffee table book on fly fishing collectors – beautiful as it might potentially be – is probably a pretty long shot seen through the eyes of most traditional publishers.

Luckily self-publishing and print-on-demand is becoming more and more approachable, both with regards to technology and price. You don't need to be a professional writer, editor, layouter, photographer (or hire people for those tasks), and you don't have to invest in huge print runs with the risk of having way more books than you can ever sell, paid out of your own pocket.
This means that books, which could have a hard time finding their way to the market through a publisher, can be driven out there by passion and hard work from one person – or a handful of people – potentially all amateurs.
In all fairness I have to say that this book seemed to be a little more than the average amateur self-published, print-on-demand, skinny paperback.

Paul Schmookler
Paul Schmookler
Steve Woit

The book arrived a couple of weeks later, and it was pretty obvious that this wasn't amateur work.
It's a large book, and even though amateurs can make large books, they rarely do. The ambitions usually follow the level of confidence, the size of the wallet – and the competence. This book was made with lots of confidence, price didn't seem to be an issue, and as my research sprite had indicated: competent professionals were involved.
The company Communications for Learning were in charge of the production. They have a small story about it on their website, and director and founder Jonathan Barkan wrote about the process and cooperating with the author in an article on LinkedIn.

As the last article indicates "It also helps to have deep pockets that make the end game possible.", and the end result does indeed look like the pockets were deep, and money was spent on the production.
It's a stunningly beautiful book!
I didn't know that I was interested in collecting fly fishing paraphernalia – until I started leafing through this book. Woit manages to turn this exotic subject into something generally interesting.
The book doesn't make me want to start collecting. That's not the effect, and basically not a thing that I'm interested in at all.
No, it's the collectors that are interesting. And their collections of course.

The people are what's fascinating, and Woit has his focus on them more than anything else. Of course there's lots of collectibles in a book like this. In fact almost every page has beautiful pictures of something that's bound to make almost any collector drool. But most chapters in this book take their outset in people: named persons who Woit has interviewed and portrayed.
The book seems like an endless journey, and for every page you turn, treasures are exposed, new treats greet you, new surprises await. The photos are impeccable. Most are of the collectibles of course, and gathering the illustrations for the book must have been a Sisyphean task. They come from innumerable sources, and curating and organizing them must have taken a colossal amount of work.
The portrays of the people are equally good, and even though it seems that the pictures come from a large number of sources, they are strikingly homogeneous, and makes leafing through the book a visual joy. The layout supports the great pictures, and is light and elegant, easy on the eyes, and makes reading a pleasure.
A few are not quite up to the quality of the rest, but look like low resolution or highly compressed images from online sources, but still… the pictures leave a great impression.

Butterfly and salmon fly
Antique flies
Full dressed salmon flies
Reels and flies
Reel collecting
Rod collecting
Pages from the book
Steve Woit

So, what about the writing you may ask?
Well, it's on par with the rest of the book. I enjoyed the stories told by each of the portrayed people, and simply reading about their passion and prized possessions. Someone more into collecting will probably appreciate the practical advice given by many of the participants on where to find items and how to build and maintain a collection. Woit has visited some of the sacred halls of collection including museums, manufacturers, auction houses and others, and for a novice in the collection world like myself, that adds to the experience.

So, should you buy this book?

Well, if you are a collector with interest in the community worldwide, definitely yes! The book is a smorgasbord of stories about people like yourself, which you are bound to enjoy.
If you think collecting might be something for you and you have already started putting some of your most prized possessions into small cabinets, frames or binders, it's a yes too. You will be very inspired by the people covered in the book, pick up a lot of great tips and ideas, and be highly entertained underway.
But what if you, like me, aren't into collecting?
Well, then 80 US$ for a book may seem a bit steep – even though I have to add that it's a very fair price for a book this large and beautiful. You will get your money's worth for sure, but the entertainment value might not be quite enough to justify the price. On the other hand it's a great conversation piece to have laying around, and can supply material for hours of conversation with guests leafing through it – plus hours of reading for you.

Buying the book

U.K. and European buyers can order from Coch-y-Bonddu Books.
Other international buyers can contact the publisher/author to place orders.


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