Published Nov 21. 2014 - 9 years ago
Updated or edited Dec 13. 2023

Book review: Selectivity

The Theory & Method of Fly Fishing for Fussy Trout, Salmon, & Steelhead

A book about fishing for fussy trout, steelhead and salmon, which systematically covers theory, practical fishing methods and fly patterns.

Matt Supinski
Publishing year: 
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I recently reviewed Matt Supinski's book Steelhead Dreams and was thrilled with Supinski's enthusiastic writing and his way of approaching the subject, but not as keen on the physical layout of the book.
This title has the same great approach, some great writing and a really excellent way of analyzing the problems and providing solutions. And as an added bonus it has a really good structure and layout and some outstanding pictures.
As regular readers of my reviews know, I love books that focus on a specific subject and don't stray into common knowledge or even platitudes. Selectivity is a prime example of how to stay on track and keep focus. It deals with its subject and stays with that without segwaying into common fishing advice on casting, setting up gear or similar issues. It simply deals with targeting and catching fussy fish.

And Supinski breaks this problem down into something that makes it very easy to understand, and very easy to work with as an angler targeting these fish - the fish that just won't take.

Supinski divides foraging fish into three main categories or phases as he calls it: Aggressive/Active, Selective/Reflective and Passive/Dormant. He explains these categories in detail in the beginning of the book, and builds a lot of his advice on the understanding of these phases, which make very good sense once you grasp them, and truly seems to cover the behavior and feeding situations we encounter in the fish.
In the following three major sections of the book he covers the three species trout, steelhead and salmon and explains how to attack the fish in each of the phases. Each species is treated in great depth and with respect to its behavior, the Atlantic salmon chapter being slightly shorter than those on trout and steelhead. Supinski covers seasons, night fishing, fishing methods and much more. The different strains of fish are covered and locations all over the globe are mentioned with local differences pointed out.
He also lists a large number of flies for each species with several large detailed plates of different groups of flies, of which some are referenced in the text while others are part of a group of flies mentioned in general terms. The last part of the book contains materials lists for all flies and a short descriptive text.

This all comes together into a very sensible and easy to understand theory on fish behavior backed up by a wealth of hands on advice that makes a lot of sense too. Supinski's long experience as an angler and a guide shines through on every page and makes the book highly compelling and very convincing.

highly compelling and very convincing

That notion is underlined by the photos, which are all top notch and for a large part showing some really respectable fish. The photos are Supinski's own as well as contributed from a number of excellent anglers and photographers, and combined with the excellent and calm layout, they add immensely to the book, which you can leaf through and just enjoy as a coffee table book.
But it is certainly much more than that, essentially breaking barriers on a subject, which I haven't seen covered as well before. Sure we have titles like Marinaro's The Ring of the Rise, Richards' Selective Trout and Clarke and Goddard's The Trout and the Fly, but these are from a different time and look at trout fishing only and look at takes and selectivity in a very different way than Matt Supinski's Selectivity


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