Published Nov 8. 2019 - 4 years ago
Updated or edited Feb 15. 2020

Book review: The Feather Bender's Flytying Techniques

When a great photographer, fly tyer and instructor writes a book, it’s likely to become a great book

Barry Ord Clarke
Merlin Unwin Books
Publishing year: 
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Barry Ord Clarke is a British expat living in Norway, from where he conducts his business as a photographer, writer, videographer, fly tyer and fly tying instructor. In the fly tying community he’s an influencer as it’s called nowadays, present online, on social media, at shows, in books and magazines and many other places. Well known and respected by most.
He produces a ton of really excellent videos on YouTube, shoots a lot of great fly tying pictures for books, magazines and online use, and also publishes his own material on his blog, The Feather Bender.
The book at hand sort of boils all that down into one concentrated broth of flies, photography, great instructions and videos… yes, videos. The book features videos in a rather snazzy way, but more on that later.

The book is called “fly tying techniques”, and there’s a reason for that, because even though the instructions show step-by-steps for full flies, they are each focused on two or three tying techniques, and Clarke uses that pattern to illustrate and demonstrate these techniques. In that way this book is unique, and as you know, unique books have a special place in my heart!
You will learn to tie some excellent and very useful flies, but most of all you will learn to use various techniques, and later be able to apply them to other patterns. The techniques are very varied, and comprise both material handling, wrapping/folding/spinning techniques, tool use and using special materials. Since there are 28 base patterns and each covers 2-3 techniques, you get 70 or more different tying methods covered. Each is mentioned before the pattern is described and shown, and even though I do miss a structured index of these techniques, they are listed in the common index in the back of the book, and can be located with a little leafing back and forth.
There’s an intro covering some tools and materials, which will give you some generally applicable tips, but the major part of the book is patterns.

The book is called “fly tying techniques”, and there’s a reason for that

So 28 chapters show each a pattern, and some even show variations or similar patterns as an extra bonus. In the usual Barry Ord Clarke-way, the chapters are uniformly structured and extremely well illustrated. You will find exquisite step-by-step images, large and very luscious full page illustrations as well as small detail shots of flies, materials and tools. Spread out in the book, you will also find very nice pictures of fishing and nature, spicing up the patterns, and Clarke’s skills as a professional photographer are pretty obvious. The images are both beautiful and useful.
The layout of the book is nice and varied. Many step-by-step books tend to fall into a repetitive system, where each fly pattern gets the same number and size of images, the same number of pages, the same amount of text and the same basic layout. Not here! There’s consistency and system, but absolutely no monotony. The patterns and techniques get the attention needed. Some need more space and more details than others, and the structure of the book respects and reflects that.

With QR-code and all
Great photography
Pages from The Feather Bender's Flytying Techniques
Barry Ord Clarke

As an added bonus, the book has videos. No, of course not Harry Potter style Daily Prophet living images in the book itself, but simple QR-codes, printed next to the pattern. You scan them with your phone, and will immediately be brought to YouTube where the fly in question is tied in moving images. A very neat way of integrating video. If you are at a computer, you can simply enter the short URL printed next to the code. Same result.
So as you might deduct, I’m pretty fond of this book. It’s a book that will teach you things that will make you a better fly tyer. It does focus mainly on trout flies for stream and lake use, but the main aim of the book is not necessarily to produce the specific patterns, but to allow you to pick up some useful methods that you can apply to a number of your own flies.
It succeeds in doing that, as well as showing you some really useful patterns, and as a seasoned tyer – or an ambitious beginner – you will learn a lot here.

The book is large format and the page count is slightly more than 250, so priced at UK£25.- or about US$ 32.- or 29.- Euros, it’s not an expensive book considering the size and quality. It’s published by UK publisher Merlin Unwin and should be widely available – including online from there store.

The author introduces the book in this video.


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