Published Feb 11. 2019 - 5 years ago
Updated or edited Feb 12. 2019

Book review: Steelhead Fly Tying

Art and Design

Beautiful photos, lots of detailed text and schoolbook step-by-step instructions on how to tie 24 fantastic looking steelhead flies

Dec Hogan and Marty Howard
Dec Hogan and Marty Howard
Publishing year: 
Reviewed by: 

We're talking a very beautiful book here, large format, 350 pages and packed with really dazzling photos, lots of in-depth text and schoolbook step-by-step instructions on how to tie some fantastic looking flies. Nothing seems to have been spared in the effort to produce a high class book.

The flies are modern steelhead flies, but tied in a very classic style, many owing quite a bit to full dressed salmon flies. The result is flies, which have so much style and elegance, that they could easily deserve to hang in a frame on the wall. At the same time there's no doubt that they are fishing flies, designed and tied to lure steelhead, behave properly in the water and last more than a few casts
Each fly is presented with a long text section, telling its background and history, how to fish it, a specific tying technique or material or some other aspect of the fly. That is followed by several pages of large and detailed images with a significant amount of text explaining each tying step illustrated.

A hefty book
A hefty book
Global FlyFisher

Many of the patterns are complex enough to deserve as detailed coverage as they get, but some will be easier to tie. There are hook flies as well as tubes and intruders. The instructions will enable you to all tie these flies, get the proportions right, control butts, tags, tails and wings, get body hackles, spey hackles, throat hackles to sit right. Eventually to tie flies as beautiful as you see them in the pictures.

In that way the scope and size of the book is justified. The number of images, the amount of text and the page count is warranted. Dec Hogan and Marty Howard have done a stellar job with the book as well as the flies.

But the size and beauty of the book does have its downturns: As I have said before, and will probably say again: books can be almost too beautiful! It hurts to say so, but the thing is that price follows quality. The price tag on this book is 75 US$, which is by no means expensive for a book of this size and quality, but still is a hefty price for any fly tying or fly fishing book. If you are outside the US you have to add postage, which can be quite a lot of money too. Books in that price range isn’t for everyone, and unfortunately not something most tyers will just buy on impulse. We have seen many of these pattern/coffee table books lately. Pattern books do not need to be quite as lavish to convey the basic content: fly patterns, their materials and how to tie them. Books like that are often just paperback books in modest formats, and not luxury items like this, and you can argue that for showing people how to tie a fly, less than this can do.
But man, it's nice with these extravagant books!
Sure the price is substantial, but you do get a lot of book for your money.

But man, it's nice with these extravagant books!

Title pages
Title pages
SBS instructions
SBS instructions
Pattern catalog
Pattern catalog

If you already have books in your steelhead fly tying library and you are tempted by this title, you may want to read this post scriptum before you spring the money for another Hogan/Howard book:
A little less than a year ago there was somewhat a controversy between the authors of the book at hand and the publisher of a book entitled “Tying Steelhead Flies with Style”, written by Dec Hogan and Marty Howard… yes, the exact same authors as here.
The book back then was about steelhead flies – like this one.
The book contained step-by-steps on the most beautiful flies – like this one.
The book was large and gorgeous – like this one.
The book was pretty expensive – like this one.
You could actually say that the book was indeed... like this one.
I won't go into the details about the whole mess, but just conclude that if the book published back then wasn't up to the desired standards, I kinda wonder what changed in the meantime, because the books are as close to identical as they come.
In other words: If you have “Tying Steelhead Flies with Style” you don’t need this book.

OK, there are differences.
This book is landscape format, the first one was portrait. For what it’s worth: I do like the landscape format better.
This newer book has a gallery of supplemental flies in the last section, adding significantly to the number of patterns.
The chapter and pattern sequence is the same, but the number of flies differs slightly, although the far majority of flies is found in both books accompanied by the same images and basically the exact same text.
The basic in-depth step-by-steps are the same apart from one full SBS on the Incredible Intruder found as the last fly in the first book, but not found in this one.
It’s difficult to see the reasoning behind republishing the book essentially unchanged, but the conflict between the authors and the publisher back then obviously mandated it.
You can take the author’s side and buy the current book.

Well, with that whole publishing debacle out of the way, let me say that the book at hand as absolutely worth your attention if you want top of the line instructions in tying contemporary steelhead flies.


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