Published Dec 22. 2005 - 18 years ago
Updated or edited Sep 13. 2015

Book review: The Trout and the Fly

Brian Clarke and John Goddard
The Lyons Press (Globe Pequot)
Publishing year: 
Reviewed by: 

At first glance this 2005 edition of a 25 years old book does not seem very impressive. When I leafed quickly through the book as I always do with new books, I was struck by the B/W photos and the layout style, and judged the book to be a bit on the boring and outdated side.

Not so!

Because once I started reading and spent some time really looking at the photos and checking out the drawings I realized that I had a true classic in front of me.

The book is a very systematic and almost scientific odyssey through various subjects regarding the way trout feed, the way our flies imitate food and the way trout mistake our flies for food. It also contains a wealth of information on trout's physiology, particularly regarding sight and sensing.
Now, this could sound a bit too scientific to some of you, but the combination of the biological facts and the fly-fishing aspect makes this extremely interesting.

While reading the book you are taught how to see from the different types of rings in the surface how the trout is rising or moving. You are then taught what each type of rise means in respect to what the trout is eating, and this can again be coupled with flies to imitate the food items and the way to fish them properly in order to get the trout to take.

And if you doubt the arguments of the authors, there are plenty images to support their standpoints. The central section is a collection of colour photos, each illustrating rise forms or other trout behaviour. There are tonnes of pictures of lines, leaders and flies in the surface - from above and from below - to illustrate what trout actually see. And the whole subject of trout sight is one of those revelations where you suddenly get a lot of loose facts that you might have picked up over the years into perspective (excuse the pun). All is clearly illustrated and well described.

This is not a book you give to your rookie nephew who just took up fishing. If you're a pragmatic type of angler who just goes out a few times in a season you might also find it a bit too much. But if you want to learn why fish stay in front of rocks, not behind, why they see more above water the deeper they lie and why trout are so difficult to spot and how you learn to see them anyway, this is a book worth reading.

It is not quite up to current standards regarding layout and photography, and many of the B/W pictures are just too soggy to be good, but the larger part is good and the drawings are excellent. With a price tag in the 20 US$ range for the paperback this is not an inexpensive book, but I would still judge it worth every dime, and not hesitate to recommend it to the fly angler who wants to learn just a little bit more.

The book can be bought directly from the publisher.


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