Published Nov 28. 2015 - 8 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 28. 2015

Book review: Wild Steelhead

The Lure and Lore of a Pacific Northwest Icon

I brought home 4 lbs of beautiful wild steelhead the last time I was in the US. Not a fish of course, but a couple of impressing books.

Sean M. Gallagher
Wild River Press
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I brought home 4 lbs of beautiful wild steelhead the last time I was in the US. No, not a fish of course, but a couple of impressing – and heavy – books.

Steelhead is in many ways the holy grail of American fishing. These fish are not only large, beautiful and strong, but also a native US species and something that most US anglers revere and hold in very high esteem.
The steelhead enjoy a respect that almost no other fish does in the US, and preserving wild steelhead is one of the big issues in US fisheries conservation. Good steelhead fishing is as good Atlantic salmon fishing: thrilling and rewarding and at the same time a sign that the water and the fish are doing well. It mostly takes place in beautiful surroundings, and habitual steelhead anglers seem to tend to develop into hardcore steelheaders like many salmon anglers develop into salmon bums.

This two volume title celebrates the people and the fishing in the form of a long series of portraits and interviews with American steelheaders mixed with more factual chapters about the fishing. Spanning an impressing 670 pages these two books have the space needed to get around the subject – and then some. This is not a how-to title as such, but more like an overwhelming homage to the fish and the anglers - with some facts and advice mixed in.
The books do mention locations, flies and methods, but if you are new to steelheading, they will mainly make you want to go fishing so badly more than teach you how to go about it. The factual chapters can help the newcomer on the way, but will most likely be of greater use to seasoned anglers – US and even local steelhead anglers in particular, people who know the Thompson, Vancouver Island, The Olympic Peninsula and the other places covered.

Wild Steelhead volume one
Wild Steelhead volume two
Two impressing volumes
Global FlyFisher

But the main reason for buying these books, would probably not be to learn steelheading or to find places to pursue them. The main reason would be to indulge in and glutton on the smorgasbord that these books are.
The text is well written, easily read and entertaining as well as educating, but what jumps at you is the photography. All images are shot by Adam Tavender and Greg McDonald, both avid steelheaders and both portrayed in the books – and both very accomplished photographers.
The layout of the books leaves more than ample room for their beautiful images, and you hardly turn a page without being presented with their excellent photos. A lot of two-page spreads are simply one big photo edge to edge and the numerous illustrations makes it a joy to just leaf through the books, which will easily serve as impressing coffee table fillers in a Yuppie fly fishing home.
Unfortunately all this goodness also comes with a Yuppie price tag. The books are definitely a luxury item, printed on heavy paper, beautifully bound and delivered in a slipcase. This means that they are sold for 150.- US dollars, which will probably – and unfortunately – keep a good deal of people from buying them.
As it is there's an even more expensive version available, namely a limited, signed, 500 USD leather bound edition. An idea might be to offer a less expensive softbound version for people with wallets not quite as fat.
Still an amazing set of books, and something that will make any steelheader drool - wannabe, rookie or seasoned.


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