Published Apr 7. 2003 - 21 years ago
Updated or edited Oct 10. 2016

Book review: Trout from Small Streams

Dave Hughes
Stackpole Books
Publishing year: 
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It seems that big fish, big rivers, and monster hatches catch all the headlines these days - especially what is found on the huge tailwaters below the many dams that have been built over the years. Tackle is being designed more often for long casts - fast action rods with lots of power to toss flies to distant targets. Chest high waders, pontoon boats, guided drift boat trips - almost everything we see is targeted at the big water and big fish angler. I guess that is where the big money is, as well.
Fishing for trout on small streams is not about big fish, big hatches, and big money. It is about intimacy. It is about stealth and caution. It is less technical, yet in many ways more difficult.
Most of all, fly fishing for trout in little creeks and brooks is intensely personal. Dave Hughes recognizes this fact and avoids the temptation for broad generalizations. Instead, he takes us along his streams, tells us how he fishes them, and leaves it to us to decide how to apply his experience to our fishing. What is most valuable in this education is not just what he does, but why he does it, and also what he has done and discarded because it did not work as well. We might not agree with every conclusion he has drawn, but we certainly will be well equipped to draw our own conclusions based on our needs and our fishing.

Trout from Small Streams follows the general formula for most fishing instructional books. A basic course in relevant stream craft, some advice on appropriate tackle and flies, and a thorough treatment of appropriate angling techniques. The emphasis throughout the book is "keep is simple", yet "simple" is a relative term since
nothing is really simple about trout fishing.

"The less you carry, the more corners you can turn and the more things you can discover. It's probably not peripheral that the more water you can cover, the more trout you can catch"

The book reads as if the intended audience is people who already know the basics of fly fishing for trout (they know what a mayfly is, how to tie a blood knot, etc.), yet are keenly interested in how others approach their fishing. I mean - c'mon - even anglers with decades of experience cannot resist a sneak peek into someone else's fly box when it is offered.
For the experienced angler, there are not many head slapping "why didn't I think of that?" moments, but there is an overall wealth of information that will certainly seep into your subconscious and surface when needed. There are also plenty of obvious hints and tips that you might be interested in trying. I know I plan to give his thoughts on leader construction a good test this year on my own little streams.
That is not to say that beginners should avoid this book - but rather that they should not look to this volume to provide basic education. Anglers of all experience levels will learn something here.

While nobody will question Dave's talent for trout fishing, even more impressive is his writing ability. He teaches by example, and his examples are often very entertaining. The subject of catching trout from small streams could be a dry as a text on differential calculus, but thankfully Dave makes us feel like we're swapping stories over a cup of coffee in the back of our favorite fly shop. The ability to tell a good story - especially a story that makes a point or passes along a bit of information - is a rare gift. How lucky are we that Dave has chosen to use his gift to teach us how to go trout fishing?

If you fish for trout on small waters - you will enjoy this book. Satisfaction guaranteed.


I don't know about D...

I don't know about Dave Hughes book but after sixty years of fishing I have returned to fishing small local streams. I was bought up on wee burns in my native Scotland where trout were so many to the pound now I fish in New Zealand where the fish of dreams come from. As in Scotland I converted a greenheart rod to 5 ft to fish the burns so I have just completed another wee rod, this time IM6 carbon, 6 feet 6 inches, 6wt with a fast action for the accuracy needed and the large fish. My average for small stream angling is 4lb with one per two trips of three to four hours. My best to date is 7 1/2 lb.
Books on the tecniques required to fish micro water are on a par with hens teeth so if anyone would like to get to grips with a most exciting and challenging branch of our sport this is the sort of book to buy.


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