Published Nov 13. 2020 - 3 years ago
Updated or edited Dec 14. 2020

Book review: Simple Flies

Flies You Can Tie with Three Materials or Less (Exclusive of Hook & Thread)

Simple is good. Not primitive… simple. And this is another fine book with simple fly patterns.

C.Boyd Pfeiffer
Publishing year: 
US$ (down to 5 US$ used)
Reviewed by: 

I have reviewed a book called Simple Flies before, and this is another book with the same title. It came out 10 years before Morgan Lyle’s similarly titled work.
The subtitle of this book is “Flies You Can Tie with Three Materials or Less”. It does say “Exclusive of Hook & Thread” in the sub-subtitle, just to make sure that you get the idea.
Three materials or less means one, two or three, and you’d be surprised how many patterns actually fall in this category – even fairly complex ones. A large number of my favorite flies use three materials or fewer, and I still consider them a chore to tie. The number of materials alone will not necessarily make a fly simple.

I dug it out of my bookshelf because I was writing an article on simple flies, and did some research on the subject. It’s a 15 year old book, which I bought a long time ago, but still holds up pretty well with regards to style and layout. It follows the very well known US style of fly tying books, using medium size images shot on a uniform, blue background, and doesn’t feature any fancy or artful images. All the pictures are shot by the author, but could have been done by any of a number of US fly photographers like Klausemeyer or Schollmeyer. It doesn’t do much for the aesthetic experience, but it certainly conveys the content well, being very observant and objective in style.

While reading through the book as part of my research for the above article, I realized that many of the flies in this book aren’t actually that simple. Sure, they keep to the three-materials-at-the-most-rule, but they can still become quite complex and intricate to tie. The more recent book by Morgan Lyle features mainly flies with one and two materials, and only a few with three, and does a better job of listing simple flies in my eyes.

Boyd Pfeiffer’s book is a fine book, but not quite as clean in its approach to the subject as Lyle’s. I also have to admit that I do find its style a little bland. It’s informative and very easy to follow, but the uniform images and traditional layout also makes it a bit boring.

Still, a book like this, available for as low as 5 US$ used and in good shape, is definitely worth considering if you want a list of simple and efficient flies, which can be tied with few and common materials.


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