Published Oct 24. 2021 - 2 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 26. 2021

Book review: Flytying for Beginners

Learn All the Basic Tying Skills Via 12 Popular International Fly Patterns

A beginner's book that I'd actually recommend to beginners! Great pattern selection, excellent photography and nicely coupled to online videos.

Barry Ord Clarke
Merlin Unwin
Publishing year: 
UK£ (app 20 US$)
Reviewed by: 

If you have been taking part in online communities dealing with fly tying during the last 3-5 years, the name Barry Ord Clarke has almost certainly passed by on your screen several times – or maybe it’s been Barry’s nom de plume (literally!) The Feather Bender.

Barry is a British fly tyer, photographer and author based in Norway, and he has been very active on the web, on social media, on YouTube and in publishing for many years. He runs a very popular YouTube channel with fly tying, and has been publishing new tying videos regularly. On this site we are closing in on hosting 400 videos produced by Barry, and I’m sure there are many more out there. With 40,000 subscribers and thousands of plays per video, Barry’s videos really get out and about.

Recently Barry was voted Fly Tyer of the Year by Fly Tyer Magazine, and I have seen nothing but praise and applause for that decision, which was a result of readers voting for their favorite tyer.

So, Barry is not just any fly tyer, but a fly tyer who is known to be able to convey his skills and knowledge both online and in print.

And he does this to great extent in this book. I’ll return to the online part in a minute, but start by looking at the book itself. It’s a nice format, not huge but big enough to offer the content justice. It’s 130 pages. Again it’s not large by book standards, but has enough pages to cover the subject well.
As most fly tying books, especially those aimed at beginners, it starts out with a section on tools and materials, and exactly in this case – when it’s aimed at beginners – I have no objections to that. One of my pet peeves is books for seasoned tyers that want to tell how to use a whip finish tool or how to start the thread. Well, most seasoned tyers don’t need that, so don’t waste pages on it! But beginners do, and that’s why the first 30 or so pages of this book tell about fly anatomy, hooks, materials tools and basic techniques. For a beginner those are 30 very welcome pages, telling in short and well illustrated chapters how to go about starting a hook, material and tool collection. Nothing fancy, but just very common sense advice.

From there on it’s into the patterns. There are twelve of them, mostly trout patterns, but some very omnipotent ones, which will serve almost any angler and beginning tyer. OK, there are no specific saltwater patterns for stripers or bonefish, and flies aimed at pike or bass are also absent, but the selection of patterns will supply any trout angler with an arsenal of very useful flies, and – most importantly – teach that angler to tie flies in the process. Once you master the techniques covered here, you can venture on to many other patterns, and Barry’s own 500 online videos will be a suitable place to start.
So the book will teach you exactly what the subtitle promises: “Learn All the Basic Tying Skills Via 12 Popular International Fly Patterns”.

Sample pages
F-Fly sample pages
Page samples
Barry Ord Clarke

As already mentioned the book format is nice (245×189 mm or about 9.5×7.5 inches), and since the author is a more than accomplished photographer, the pictures are both beautiful and really excellent. There are clear step-by-step instructions for all the patterns. The flies and the tying is of course impeccable with everything clearly visible and very neatly tied.
And as I already mentioned, there’s an online link. Each fly is accompanied by a QR-code, which can lead you directly to the relevant YouTube video showing in live images how to tie the fly. Several other QR-codes are spread out in the book, leading to relevant online videos.
Each fly of course has a materials list, some notes on the tying, highlights of where to take care and what you’ll learn with that specific fly, and coupled with the detailed step-by-step images and captions, the patterns together form a full course in fly tying for people who have just started and maybe dipped their toes and shivered a bit – and never got on.

Compared to many other and older books aimed at beginners, this title takes things a notch higher and embraces a modern, good looking and very functional book design as well as the online world. Buy and read the book, and the natural next stop will be Barry’s YouTube channel and the wealth of things you can learn there.
The book is hardback with a sturdy imagewrap cover, and is priced at £14.50 or about 20 US$, which is very fair for the quality and size, and shouldn’t scare anyone these days.

If I’m to recommend one beginner’s book in the future, this will very likely be it. And I’ll back that up with a Global Class rating.


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