Published Dec 1. 2014 - 9 years ago
Updated or edited Jan 15. 2017

Book review: Saltwater Flies

of the Southeast & Gulf Coasts

A nice book with a wealth of very different saltwater fly patterns from the Gulf coasts of the US. With contributions by a large number of well known and not so well known tyers.

Angelo Peluso
Frank Amato Publications
Publishing year: 
Reviewed by: 

The contents of my fairly well stocked fishing book shelves bear witness to the fact that I love fly pattern books. My small book database says that I currently have 115 pattern books. To most non-fly-tying people these books might seem both very identical and quite boring.
To put pattern books into perspective for people not tying flies, I can compare them to food recipe books. Most people easily understand that one single or a few cook books won't do much if you really want to learn new dishes or be inspired in the kitchen by books, and they also understand that people really interested in cooking can hardly get enough recipe books. Even though these books might look the same with their almost endless pictures of food and lists of ingredients, there's a huge difference between a book showing traditional Italian cooking and a book on Thai food, not to mention a book on baking cakes or making ice cream deserts.
I feel the same way about fly-tying and fly pattern books, and even though I have a ton of the already, I buy new ones constantly.

That long story leads me to the review of this book, which is yet another book with pages up and pages down of fly patterns.
I didn't buy this book like I do most of my books. It was kindly sent to me for review by the publisher Amato Books, but I did ask specifically for this title based on my knowledge about the author Angelo Peluso and by what I had read about it on Amato's web site.
That is the criteria I often use for deciding what books to acquire when I'm unable to leaf through them - physically or virtually. I know that it might be like judging and buying a bottle of wine based on the vineyard, grape and print on the label, but as with wine as well as books, my experience is that this method can work surprisingly well. It did with this one, which is a really excellent pattern book.
Yes, we're finally coming around to the review itself. Sorry for all the digressions.
This is a really excellent book, which has all the ingredients that I like in pattern books - maybe bar one, which I'll return to.

Page from Saltwater Flies -
Page example

What it does have is a great spread of patterns within a well defined scope, namely saltwater flies from the southeast corner of the US. That makes it a book about fairly large and colorful flies, baitfish, crabs, shrimps and other more or less naturalistic collections of fur, feathers and synthetics on hooks.
It's a great collection and does a very good job of covering the ground. There are flies from various originators, for various species and situations, imitating various critters.
The presentation of each pattern is nice with a good picture of a well tied fly, a small intro and a list of materials. There's a great variation in the flies, spanning from the traditional streamer types over imitations to some really odd contraptions with spinner blades and epoxy.
Paired with a row of larger pictures and some really beautiful Gyotaku prints by Charlie Brown that makes the book a lot of fun to leaf through exploring the flies, which are all very inspiring.
But I have a problem with the book, which will not take anything away from its usefulness, but which does take a bit off the experience - for me at least.

Book layout is a pet peeve of mine, and I often wonder why so many books are so badly laid out and as in this case using mediocre typography. I see way too many effects and miss some uniform style and simplicity. Fancy fonts, drop caps, text over pictures, massive walls of unbroken body text, and then the really beautiful fish prints, that light up, but also fight the colorful and slightly messy surroundings.
With a cover price at 35 USD for the 160 page paperback this isn't a cheap book, and compared to other books in the coffee table book price range, this one doesn't really cut it. But as a pattern book it's really great.

You can read more about Angelo Peluso on his web site.


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