Published May 10. 2024 - 1 month ago
Updated or edited Jun 9. 2024

Book review: The Klink

The Extraordinary Flytying Genius of Hans van Klinken

Dutch Hans van Klinken is best known as the originator of the Klinkhåmer Special. This large and beautiful book tells its full story ... and much, much more

Hans van Klinken
Publishing year: 
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This is a book I have been looking forward to for a while. I have always been a big fan of Hans van Klinken. Having met him on many occasions and had the chance to chat with him and see him tie, has only underscored that Hans is a special character in the community of international fly tyers.

Hans is in many ways “larger than life”, and always attracts a lot of attention, but also gives back a lot to those he meets. I personally love his personality, but I know others who have a slightly colder relation to his ways. That’s probably the price of being the closest you can get to a celebrity in our ranks.
So when his book has the subtitle “The Extraordinary Flytying Genius of Hans van Klinken” it probably raises a few eyebrows and frowns a few foreheads. The person mentioned is after all the very author of the book, Hans himself.
I have no idea who framed this phrase (note: see comment below), but no matter what, it does carry quite a lot of truth. Hans is an extraordinary fly tyer, and certainly has provided us fly anglers and tyers with some really excellent fly patterns, and as big as his ego may seem to some, he has always been very generous giving back to the fly fishing and fly tying community.

Enough about Hans as a person, and on to the focus of this review: the book.

Let me say right away that it’s a wonderful book!

It’s large, rich, well written and extremely well illustrated. It contains pictures of flies, materials, tools, Hans himself tying and fishing, as well as pictures of a lot of the people mentioned. It also contains a lot of reprints of original drawings, prints and papers of all sorts, which are used to illustrate and document a lot of the historical facts in the text.

Lovely photography
A good mix
Ina and Hans
Hans van Klinken

It’s a great fly tying book, and if you fear getting too much “Hans” when reading it, fret not. The book is actually quite the opposite, and contains almost endless attributions and credits to the originators of ideas, patterns and methods, and it’s a virtual waterfall of names of people who Hans mentions as inspiration for his own ideas, fishing, patterns and whole philosophy.

This is one of the reasons that I love the book.

I have always been an eager advocate of trying to establish the correct origins of things such as tools, methods and patterns, and have tried to research a lot of my articles as thoroughly as possible. In a world where people fumble and stumble with fly patterns, names and origins, it’s really great to read a book, where one of the main purposes is to document the author’s own original ideas and document the origins of and inspirations for these exact ideas.
In the age of the Internet we all know that facts can be changed faster than you can imagine – willfully or not – and that “alternative facts” have a very long and persistent life in the digital world, to such an extent that the actual facts sometimes are lost in the noise.

Reading the history of the parachute hackle style and then the really, really (like really!) thorough story of the Klinkhåmer Special just made a broad smile form on my face.
I had read some of Hans’ own articles on the fly before, but the history of the parachute fly was almost all news to me. Hans does a great job of giving credit where credit is due, and does in no way try to steal anybody else’s thunder. It’s a very interesting part of fly tying history, and is well told and well illustrated.

Even more so with the story of the Klinkhåmer. Hans’ coverage of the name confusion alone makes it a worthy read, but over the course of dozens of pages you get the full story. Like the fact that the origin of the name was not Hans’ own idea. He originally called the fly something else. You get the motivation for the shape and construction, learn to use the correct materials, and last but not least how exactly to tie the fly. That is followed by a large number of variations of the pattern, as well as a list and a lot of photos of the many species it has caught. This altogether makes for the most thorough and also correct account of this popular fly, which of course shouldn’t be a surprise in a book called the Klink written by the man who invented it.

Lots of fishing images
The Klinkhåmer Special
Special hooks
More pages
Hans van Klinken

Hans also covers some of his other patterns like the Once and Away - a beautiful and simple fly, and a favorite of mine - and many more.
But he also pays homage to some Scandinavian classics, namely Rackelhanan and Nalle Puh from Sweden and Finland respectively. These chapters show that there’s an equal attention to being precise and in-depth when it comes to other people’s flies, and I salute Hans for paying the dues to the people behind these flies and many more. Many of these tyers never get the credit they deserve, and their stories are rarely told.

I mentioned above that the book is large and well illustrated, and that’s hardly enough to offer the book justice. It’s 350 pages and contains 690 photos, so a bit of math tells us that there’s pretty close to two pictures per page. Since some pages is one big picture, other pages have even more images, and the book is a smorgasbord of great photos. The flies are very nicely photographed, the step-by-steps clear and very sufficient to illustrate the tying, and that’s all supplemented by a ton of fishing images – of Hans, his wife Ina and a lot of the people he has fished with and been inspired by.

So all’n’all a job very well done, and a book that has already taken our community with storm if I am to judge from posts on social media. It’s not a cheap book, priced at UK£ 50.-, but it’s worth every penny. The book is sold through a network of fly and book shops, and is available almost all over the world. The book can also be bought online from the publisher – Merlin Unwin – where you will find a list of worldwide dealers if you want to buy locally.

An instant classic, which is warmly recommended from here.


The Klink - from Hans' publishers...

Loved your carefully considered and fair review Martin. Just to let you know that it was us as publishers who came up with the book title and sub-title The Extraordinary Genius of Hans van Klinken, with a bit of help from grayling expert and friend John Roberts. Hans is larger than life, full of enthusiasm and drive, but as you rightly point out he is generous in giving credit to other flytyers and he doesn't blow his own trumpet. He has been a delight and a surprising laugh to publish and we all hope that the 40th anniverary of the Klinkhamer throughout this year is a lot of fun internationally.


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