Published Aug 8. 2019 - 4 years ago
Updated or edited Jul 1. 2021

Book review: The Humpy Encyclopedia

How to tie!! More Than a Dozen Ways to Tie a Humpy

It’s hard not to like a completely free e-book with detailed descriptions on how how to tie 12 (and then some) different variations of the Humpy. 80 pages of knowledge, tips and inspiration on a single pattern!

Gretchen and Al Beatty
Self-published, GAB Publishing
Publishing year: 
Reviewed by: 

What's not to like?
A free book. Not a printed book, but free after all.
The renowned fly tying couple Al and Gretchen Beatty has authored a ton of books – both printed and digital – and they have recorded videos as long as I remember, all the way back from when videos were clunky VHS-cassettes, bought and distributed in a very physical form.
The Beatty's have more and more adapted to the modern, digital world, and now offer a lot of content online, both in the form of YouTube-videos and as e-books, available on Amazon and through other channels.
They have even published an e-book on making e-books, entitled "How to WRITE A Fly Tying E-Book" and a book on doing your own publishing of eBooks, print-on-demand paperback books, audiobooks, online video and such called "The Self-Publishing Encyclopedia".

And they sure take

their own medicine, having self-published many books and videos during the latest decade or so.
One of them is the volume at hand, "The Humpy Encyclopedia", which is different from the rest of the books in being free for all. Not that price is an issue with the rest of their book production, which are typically priced at a few dollars per title, some being free with e-book subscriptions like Kindle Unlimited. A few of them are also available as paperbacks, a little more pricey, but not expensive.
But free is after all free, and most people like free…
So there's no real reason to hesitate. You can download the Humpy-book any time you want and enjoy it for no money. It's available as a PDF-file from the Beatty's own web site, and can be read online or downloaded, only requiring a PDF-viewer to read, which can be done on almost any device, including a computer or a tablet. Should you want it on paper, Amazon can help you, but not for free…

But free is after all free, and most people like free…

The book is an ode

to the fantastic Humpy, a seemingly simple dry fly pattern, probably originally devised sometimes in the 1940's, that since has become very popular and by some is called "maybe the greatest surface fly ever devised".
As the book describes the Humpy is indeed a deceitful fly. It seems simple and easy to tie at first glance: few materials and what appears as a simple technique. But once you start tying it, you realize that simplicity is only in the final appearance. It's actually a difficult fly to learn to master, and the original version can even be tied in several different ways.
There's a reason that this book starts out with 15-20 pages on materials, and then spends another 6 pages on covering many steps in tying the Standard Humpy. It is as the authors write "the easiest and toughest to tie of the whole darned lineup of patterns we'll discuss in the next few chapters".
But following the instructions here, there's a good chance that you will wind up with a well proportioned Humpy, looking good and able to last more than a few casts once it has seen water. And not least, one that will do what a good Humpy does best: float!
Once you have mastered the Standard Humpy, you can proceed to the variations, which count foam flies, parachute flies, no-hackle flies and all sorts of Humpies, which I at least had never seen or heard of. All adhere to the basic style of the fly, and all have their merits and tying challenges. Some are easy and some are even more difficult than the standard version.

Pages from The Humpy Encyclopedia
Pages from The Humpy Encyclopedia
Pages from The Humpy Encyclopedia
Global FlyFisher

All these patterns

are shown in numerous detailed tying steps, most accompanied by one or more excellent and clear photos. The text is "slowed down" as it's said in the description of the Standard Humpy, which is meant in a good way: easy to read and understand and sufficiently detailed to allow you to fully understand what's going on in the images.
The layout of the book is simple and efficient with no frills. It's not world class layout or typography, but it works great and conveys the essential content effectively. It just works. There are plenty references back and forth in the book, making it easy to navigate and find the information you need.
Altogether it's really hard to complain – especially considering the price! But even if you had paid say 20 US$ for a printed version of this book, you'd get so much Humpy-info that it would be more than worth the price.
This is in other words a really excellent book, and even those who haven't got mastering the Humpy on the top of their agenda, can benefit from downloading and skimming it. It's got a lot of generally very sound advice in the introductory section, and the whole book might just tempt you to break out the deer hair and the hackle and tie a Humpy.

If you – like me –

enjoyed the book after downloading and reading it, consider supporting the great initiative and contributing a few dollars to the Beattys. You can do so through Paypal. As I wrote in the notes to my own donation: "I have always appreciated people who share knowledge for free. That's something worth paying for!"
The Beatty web site is also worth a visit. It's not exactly beautiful or modern, but Al and Gretchen have published a lot of great content, and also sell materials and tools on the site – as well as books and DVDs. And while you're at it, drop by their YouTube channel and enjoy a good handful of free videos on materials, techniques and patterns.


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