Published Apr 9. 2003 - 21 years ago
Updated or edited Sep 13. 2015

Book review: Taking Trout

Dave Hughes
Stackpole Books
Publishing year: 
Reviewed by: 

Good, Solid, Practical Advice for Fly Fishing Stream and Stillwaters

Geez - with
a subtitle like that, what more is there that can be said?

Like a few
others books that have come across my desk this year, Taking Trout
is a compilation of previously published material. As a frequent
contributor to many outdoor magazines, Dave must have had a huge
inventory of material to draw from when piecing together the chapters
in this book. I can imagine one of the biggest challenges was
to make them all seem relevant and connected - while avoiding
redundancy. It's good that the title allows for quite a bit of
lattitude in the subject matter - if it pertains to catching trout
then it is fair game.

for me, in this instance at least, I'm not up-to-date on all of
these outdoors magazines so many of the chapters in Taking Trout
were fresh reading.

While the
book is instructive in nature - that does not preclude it being
a good read. Dave has an informal and conversational voice in
his writing, a tone I find quite enjoyable. He's neither preachy,
self serving, nor overly self deprecating. He acknowledges that
he knows how to catch trout (or else it would be sort of silly
for him to be writing such a book), but he doesn't whack you upside
the head with the fact.

In many cases,
he teaches by example. He takes us fishing with him, often telling
us how he was messing things up, what he figured out, and then
offering a full treatise on the subject. In "Short-Line Dry
Fly", for example, he starts off with a story about fishing
with AK Best and company, and how it took some time before he
stopped casting lone graceful lines like his friends and started
working up close like he needed to on the water he was fishing.
In "Nymphs on the Swing", he takes us fishing with "Tex"
Baxter where he got a lesson about not relying too heavily on
all the standard theories of technique or streamcraft.

This isn't
an all-encompassing book on trout fishing. It won't take a beginner
from choosing equipment to the first trout. Instead, it is a diverse
collection of essay on varying topics that are meant to stand
alone as individual lessons in the art of "Taking Trout".
The topics range from those as specific as "Slicks in Riffled
Water", to those as general as "Stillwater Strategy".

One chapter
I found particularly interesting was "Spike Camping for Fly
Fishing". It is something that I simply have no experience
with, so I read that chapter with utmost fascination. For weekend
warriors like myself, this is what we dream of. Sure - it's nice
to learn how to fish pockets or bank water - but we do that anyway.
The in's and out's of camping and going "back country"
for a fishing trip - even a solo trip - are brand new. The images
are exotic and enticing. It sounds like a heck of a lot of fun
and I hope that someday I have the chance to give it a try. The
demands of job and family make such things very difficult.

books are not my personal favorite - I prefer that magazine articles
stay in magazines and books should be written as books. Many magazine
articles rely so heavily on visuals - photos of flies or insects,
maps, diagrams, illustrations - that the text is rather anemic
without them. I wonder how much Dave had to re-work his articles
to make them complete in a non-visual medium (this is a text book
- no pictures or drawings). It is a credit to his talent as a
writer that Dave is able to make each chapter complete without
the added glossy material that may have accompanied them in their
prior life.

The bottom
line to this book is the subtitle. I defy a trout angler to read
this book and not learn something. Dave knows trout fishing.


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