Published Nov 1. 2014 - 9 years ago
Updated or edited Jan 23. 2021

Book review: Fly-Fishing's Final Frontier

Specialty Fly Patterns and Fishing Techniques for North America's Alternate Species

A large, beautiful and well-illustrated book on fly-fishing for anything but trout covering techniques and fly-patterns. A great intro to the alternative quarries of the US.

Geoff Bernardo, Wally Edwards (Illustrator)
Frank Amato Publications
Publishing year: 
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I recently reviewed the book "Flyfishing for Coarse Fish" by British Dominic Garnett, and noted in that review how untapped a resource these fish are. This book is the US counterpart of Garnett's book - and then some!

The title "Fly-fishing's Final Frontier" is somewhat a misnomer, not fully describing what this massive book is about. The subtitle "Specialty Fly Patterns and Fishing Techniques for North America's Alternate Species" does a much better job, and I love the concept of "Alternate Species", something alternative to what we already fish for.

As is the case with the European coarse fish, the alternate species in the US is a vast, underappreciated resource, and only recently has pike and carp fishing with flies gotten some attention, while a large number of the many other species covered in this book remain if not unknown then at least not cherished by the US fly anglers.

... many other species covered in this book remain if not unknown then at least not cherished...

I remember on several occasions being in the US near small ponds, known to hold panfish and expressing a wish to go fish for them. After all a plentiful fishing with fish willing to take a fly just outside your door. What's not to like? But in all cases my hosts were less excited to express it mildly, and seemed to consider bluegills and pumpkinseeds as fish for kids who could not get in their four wheel drive and to to the real fishing for trout or steelhead in remote streams or launch their 100 HP boat and chase fish for grownups in the deep blue ocean.
Bernardo confirms my notions of this kind of fishing being fun and easy to approach, and I'll bet you that I could have had lots of fun armed with a light rod and a handful of colorful foam flies just outside the door.

Altogether these almost 300 pages should wet the appetite of any American living near lakes, ponds, canals and slow moving streams. There is obviously a lot of potential in these waters, which in many cases can be reached walking or on a bike. Sure, the book also covers fish found in more remote areas, but most of them seem to be present in the humble neighborhood waters, both in the countryside and in the cities.
The book indicates that its main target isn't kids or beginners, but people with some experience and not least resources. At 65 US$ and a hefty format, it's not an inexpensive field guide. At the same time as being a very hands-on guide to fishing, it's also a large coffee table type book, with beautiful illustrations and a very nice layout. Only the fly sections with its fairly drab and traditional fly-on-blue-background images disappoint a bit when it comes to style.

The book runs through a dozen of species including the well known pike and striped bass, some species usually not fly-fished like alligator gar and walleye, as well as some lesser known species such as inconnu, mooneye and goldeye.
Each fish or group of fish get their thorough coverage in a chapter with some general observations, some gear and fishing tactics and some fly patterns. I am personally going walleye fishing shortly (we call them pike perch), and was greatly inspired by the chapter covering perch, sauger and walleye. Armed with some sound advice on line choice and fly patterns, I'm much more confident in exchanging the traditional spinning gear and vertical jigging with a fly rod, a sinking line and some flies suitable for walleye.

As already mentioned this is a really nice, large book that has enough material for days of reading. It can be used as a how-to book with lots of specific advice, but you can also have it laying around and browse and read a bit here and there. The photos and not least the fish paintings by Wally Edwards are a great asset, and makes this already excellent book even better.
In conclusion this is useful and entertaining book, beautiful to leaf through. But as a natural consequence of its format and size it's also an expensive book, which might keep some of its potential readers from buying it.

Bluegill - From the book Fly-fishing\'s Final Frontier by Geoff Bernardo
Pumpkinseed - From the book Fly-fishing\'s Final Frontier by Geoff Bernardo
Examples of the beautiful fish paintings by Wally Edwards
Wally Edwards


This is why fly fish...

This is why fly fishing keeps it's mysticism of being for the upper class. $65.00 dollars for a book not me!


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