Published Apr 5. 2016 - 8 years ago
Updated or edited Dec 20. 2021

Book review: Perrault's Standard

Dictionary of Fishing Flies

This might not look like the most exciting book I own. It isn't valuable. It isn't particularly beautiful either – rather ugly actually. Still it's one of the gems in my collection.

Keith Edward Perrault
Daniels Publishing Company, Florida (self published)
Publishing year: 
US$ (used)
Reviewed by: 

My copy of Perrault's Standard Dictionary of Fishing Flies is a significant title in my bookshelf for other reasons than value or beauty.

First of all it's a useful handbook. It is literally a dictionary of fly patterns, listing an impressing 16,000+ patterns with materials and some of them with notes on origin and tying. I have found myself looking up patterns in this book times and times again, and for classic and standard patterns, it's precise and usually tells me exactly what I need.
Secondly it's an impressing work, bearing the signs of a passionate author who has probably overcome a few obstacles to get it published. It's published by Daniels Publishing, which has probably been Perrault himself. The book is listed as self published many places.

And it looks self published.

It's printed on pretty thin and low quality paper and the print leaves quite a bit to be desired. But what will probably strike most readers is the typesetting – or rather the print – because the book is printed with a so called dot matrix printer, and compared to even the lousiest of today's ink jet printers that is unbelievably lousy. Add to that a mediocre and very inconsistent print job and the thin, yellow paper and you have a terrible combination. Some pages have dense, almost illegible text while other pages are weak in the print and foggy to look at. The result is not good, and judged on readability and visual impression the book is close to a catastrophe. But actually this is just part of the charm in my opinion.

The third reason that I cherish this book is that it's a gift. It was given to me by Steve Schweitzer back in the very early days of the Global FlyFisher, and it was one of the earliest books in my already then growing collection. It's signed by the author, and Steve has also written a few words on the end paper.

Keith E Perrault wrote it – or rather compiled it – and published it in 1984. The work on the book started already in 1946, but was mainly done in the years before it was published. Keith Edward Perrault (1923-2006) published the book while living in Florida, but spent his last years running a flyshop in Ennis Montana called The Bamboo Fly Rod.
The book was created a long time before print on demand, DIY typesetting, PDF's and computers that could make coffee table quality book layouts in easy-to-use programs downloaded for free from the Internet. It was almost before computers and definitely before the Internet.
That makes the task of collecting and organizing 16,000 fly patterns even more impressing.

Low print quality
Lavish illustrations...
You will probably not be impressed by the print quality
Global FlyFisher

The use of the dot matrix printer and the way the book is organized implies that some kind of computer was involved, but the book still has many elements that indicate a lot of manual work. It even has some small vignettes and a few larger drawings, which seem to have been added directly to the pages before printing them.
On top of 16,000 patterns organized alphabetically in sections after type, the book also has a dictionary of fly tying terms, a list of tyers and even a list of suppliers, organizations, publishers and more. By 1984 standard it's a milestone work, and even by today's standards it's both impressing an useful, even with the out of date index of resources.

As I said, the book isn't particularly valuable, and it's regularly available on the market used. Prices for a used copy vary significantly. I have seen books described as new for as low as 25 US$, but have also seen copies priced at almost 200 US$. If you want the book, it's available, even at a fair price.
Even though it's a book that I cherish for the above mentioned reasons, and a useful book too, it might disappoint some readers a bit, and is certainly a far cry from modern fly tying books. might disappoint some readers a bit...


This book...

You should get that book by Don Dubois "Fly Fisherman's Handbook of Trout Flies" and compare that to this one. Definitely pre-computer, everything abbreviated and almost indecipherable unless you are very knowledgeable of materials, patterns and tying techniques. Makes this book in your article seem user friendly.

Keith was a friend of mine....

Keith was a friend of mine.

The reviewer is correct that the original munuscript was done on a dot matrix printer, it was all typed by Keith on a word processor, if any remember what that was. It was sort of in between what a typewriter was and a PC is now. It took him many years of research, much of it through talking to individual tyers, many of whom were well known pros from the classic era of the 40s, 50s and 60s.

It was his labor of love and bid for immortality. The drawings we're indeed hand drawn, by him, on to pages he'd printed out. The thin paper stock is a result of his investors pulling out at the last minute and was a disappointment to him. He faced the choice of changing to lightweight paper or publishing in paperback form. He chose the more substantial appearance of a hardbound edition.

He continued to collect newer patterns by modern tyers to be included in a hoped for second edition which was never published. Keith hawked his books in person, to flyshops and individuals. He completed and self-pollinated his life's work while living in Orlando, FL then moved to Ennis, MT to be where the trout are.

He died in Ennis on August 3 2006 at the age of 83. He was a good man and was very giving of his time and knowledge to any interested in taking up fly-fishing and/or tying. One of my prized possessions, along with an inscribed copy of this book, is a bamboo flyrod he built from scratch and gave me for Christmas in 1985.

His last name is pronounced "per-row".


Funny that this book comes out to us again. Yes, Keith compiled a huge dictionary of patterns. And yes, it is not consistent in type or print. I have a copy also signed by the author. He signed it for me at his shop in Ennis, Mt. on July 7, 1989. The thing is that although this book is terrible it was the work that Keith did on, or should I say to, bamboo rods that was worse. He single handily ruined several cane rods in that he would strip the finish and then die the blank in black ink. The rods were then displayed at his shop. I remember an entire line of black rods that he had destroyed. I cannot remember the makers of the rods but whoever they were are probably still rolling in their respective graves.

Reply to Mark M Koscinski...

Mark, I assure you those rods were cheap production rods such as Montague and H&I and were intended as entry level rods or wall hangers, the black "ink" being in homage to the minor trend of "Japanning" as black laquering was called, primarily in the 50s. He wouldn't have done that to a high quality rod from a classic maker.


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