Test on the Basics of Stillwater Fly Fishing
As I have noted in my introduction to Mastering the Basics of Stillwater Fly Fishing, I am not an expert or authority on stillwater fishing. In my five decades of fly fishing and my years of guiding, I concentrated mostly on moving waters, with the exception of high-elevation lakes. At age 62 I do not have the luxury of slowly acquiring stillwater skills over a period of years. Now that I live across the street from Klamath Lake, which harbors huge trout, I am hell-bent to learn the secrets of stillwater fly fishing quickly. Over the past few years I have hooked and landed a number of trout in the four to seven pound range, but I also grudgingly admit that I have been skunked more times than I care to address. The glossary and test, dear reader, are for me. As a retired teacher, I know the value of reading, outlining information and then writing a test in order to really learn the material. The ultimate and final test is on the water.
I hope you too find some value in taking the test first, and then reading my article. The test will prep you for the article. If you are already an experienced stillwater fly fishing angler, the test may be too elemental, as it truly targets the beginning angler who wants to “master the basics.” As always, I would enjoy receiving any feedback or suggestions for improvement. (The answers to the test are at the very bottom.)
1. Why do the experts recommend slow action rods for stillwater fishing?
2. What is the preference for rods in terms of length and line weight?
3. What is the most commonly recommended leader?
4. A Chironomid fly most closely resembles what other insect?
A. Caddis B. Grasshopper C. Mosquito D. Mayfly
5. With a few exceptions, the experts were fairly consistent in their targeted “Go-To” patterns when searching for trout in a new lake. In order of importance, which order most closely reflects the choice of the experts?
A: Leech, Dragonfly/Damsel, Minnow, Chironomid, Scud, Terrestrial
B: Scud, Minnow, Dragonfly/Damsel, Terrestrial, Chironomid
C: Minnow, Scud, Chironomid, Dragonfly/Damsel, Terrestrial
D: Chironomid, Scud, Leech, Dragonfly/Damsel, Terrestrial
6. What is the most versatile fly line?
7. Another name for “midge” is ___________
8. A “scud” is ________
A. A lonely, small cloud drifting by itself
B. a clump of trico mayflies
C. a small crustacean resembling a shrimp
D. A & C
9. The experts agree that trout prey most actively on leeches in the following range: A. 1-2 inches B. 2-3 inches C. 4-5 inches D. 6-8 inches
10. One advantage of fishing a dark Woolly Bugger is that it imitates two sources of trout food which are ___________ and __________
11. T/F Unlike bass, trout will only feed on a crawdad when it is young and molting.
12. Use a mouse pattern after…
13. Generally, unless you have cabin fever, avoid these conditions:
A. A rapidly falling barometer
C. a period of a full moon
D. flat, calm conditions
E. water with an algae bloom present
F. C & E
G. A & C
14. In deciding on the distance and speed of retrieval, the experts are in total agreement that the most important aspect of the retrieve is the …
15. An approaching storm often (decreases the bite) (increases the bite).
16. T/F: Strike indicators are out of the realm of fly fishing and indicative of an inexperienced fly fisher.
17. When fishing with a San Juan Worm, an angler is imitating what larva?
18. T/F: The Caddis is not as important to the stillwater angler as it is to the stream angler.
19. A Callibaetis insect is what “class” of insects?
A. Mayfly B. Caddis C. Chironomid D. Water Boatman
Match Retrieves with Patterns:
Note: The choices of retrieves are not precise. Select a retrieve that is most appropriate. I found the experts have a wide range of opinion on the matter of retrieve. Keep a record of what works for you, but don’t be cavalier as this is the most critical aspect of stillwater fly fishing. Bring along a cheat sheet and practice each retrieve when you venture out on the water. Take notes!
A: One hand twist every five to ten seconds followed by a quick jerk and a pause
B: One inch slow and steady pulls followed by a pause
C: Three to six inch slow pulls followed by a pause
D: Two feet pulls speeding up with a flick of the wrist at the end w/ occasional pauses
E: Rapid short retrieves: Strip-strip-strip-pause
F: Long, fast pulls punctuated with an occasional pause and jerk
Which of the above retrieves would you use for the following patterns?
20. Leech on bottom
21. Leech swimming
22. Chironomid larva
23. Chironomid pupae
24. Dragonfly nymph
25. Damselfly nymph
29. Emergers or nymph on the surface
30. Cripple or dun on the surface
Matching Insects with Fly Patterns
B. Callibaetis Mayfly Dun
C. Callibaetis Mayfly Nymph
Match the following patterns with the insects above.
31. Bronzie, Chromie
33. Adams, Midges, Black Gnat, Mosquito, Compara Dun
34. Pheasant Tail Nymph, Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear
35. Sedge pattern (Hint: England and Canada)
36. Woolly Bugger, Carey Special, Beadhead Woolly
37. Sparkle Shrimp, Zug Bug
38. Seal Bugger
39. Ants, beetles and grasshoppers
40. Woolhead Sculpin, Red Sided Shiner
41. Hare’s Ear Wet
42. Carey Special (another use different than 36.
43. Reddish brown Woolly Bugger fished on the bottom
44. Denny’s All Purpose Emerger
46. T/F: Callibaetis nymphs are active swimmers
47. T/F: Callibaetis duns and Hexagenia duns provide the best opportunity for dry fly fishing on lakes.
48. Why are Chironomid nymphs and Callibaetis nymphs bright during their ascent to the surface?
49. What is a major disadvantage of fishing stillwater with a floating line?
50. What one piece of equipment should you always have when wading or fishing a boat?
1. The slower action rods absorb the shock of a large fish on the take. Light tippets do not hold up on a stiffer rod when a large trout fights in underwater vegetation.
2. Many of the experts, both guides and authors that I have met, use 5 wt rods from 8.5 to 9.5 in length. As always, it is personal preference. Certainly 5 – 8 weight rods will all do fine.
3. 4x-5x, 9 to 15 feet in length
10. Minnow or forage fish and a leech
13. A & C Denny Rickards and other experts note that trout like the cover of an algae bloom until the oxygen is depleted and the temperature of the water nears 70 degrees.
15. Increases the bite
16. Bull shit!
17. Chironomid blood worm
18. T The caddis larva moves slowly across the lake bottom not attracting much attention. Its descent in the pupa stage to the surface is slow, and it too often goes unnoticed. Once in the surface film, the emerger stage is over quickly.
20. A or B
21. C or D
22. A or B
23. A or B
24. C or D
25. B or C
26. E or F
27. A or B
28. No retrieve, slight twitch
29. B or C
30. No retrieve
31. Chironomid nymph
33. Chironomid emerger / dun
34. Callibaetis nymph or Chironomid nymph
38. Leech or Dragonfly nymph
41. Chironomid nymph
42. Dragonfly nymph
44. Chironomid emerger
45. Chironomid larva
48. They use trapped air and gas to help them rise to the surface, which gives a shinny reflection to their bodies.
49. Wind drift moves the line which in turn moves your fly.
50. Inflatable chest suspenders or a Coast Guard approved floatation devise.
If you got an “A”, skip my article, although you may want to read one or more of the recommended books, especially Fly Patterns for Stillwater. If you did poorly, read the accompanying article, and be sure to buy one or more of the books that I recommend. If you are young and just beginning to fly fish, I recommend Croft’s book, The Fish Bum’s Guide to Catching Larger Trout, an illustrated manual on stillwater tactics for the intermediate fly angler. Although I valued and enjoyed reading a number of books listed in my bibliography, my favorite remains Denny Rickards, Fly-Fishing Stillwaters for Trophy Trout.
Mastering the Basics of Stillwater Fly Fishing
Alderflies: These insects are similar to Caddisflies, but they are black.
Anchored Position: Unless you are drifting with the wind or trolling, an anchored stationary position provides the greatest opportunity for precise casting and controlled retrieves. Cabala’s offers a number of small anchors for belly boats and Kickboats. In a larger boat, especially with two anglers, two anchors keep the boat stationary in the wind so that the boat doesn’t swing back and forth. In this manner both anglers may cast parallel and both casters have a stationary zone to target.
Barometer: Fair and Stable means fair or stable fishing; Low or falling means “The Pits.”
Bloodworm: Many species of Chironomids live deep in the lake. To survive in this oxygen depleted zone, they need hemoglobin, which gives the larva body a bright red color.
Boil: A boil is a bulge of water on the surface indicating a fish is feeding just under the surface on emerging insects. This is contrasted to sippers who lazily sip insects in the surface film during low light. This is contrasted by a splashy spay of water indicating a charging trout eager to catch a surface resting insect prior to its maiden flight.
Callibaetis Mayfly: Although abundant in streams, mayflies do not typically inhabit stillwaters. One of the exceptions, however, is the Callibaetis, the speckled-wing mayfly. Preferring clear water, lakes with Callibaetis mayflies are an important food source of trout as nymphs, duns and spinners. Typically, two or three hatching periods occur throughout the season with each successive hatch smaller in size from the last. The hatch during spring comes off mid-morning, but as the season progresses hatches occur in the early morning and low light of evening. Mottled in browns and tans with speckled, translucent wings, the Callibaetis mayfly can be found across the country, including famous trout rivers offering slower water.
Chemocline: This is the bottom of the lake, the profundal zone, which holds little oxygen. Unless there is seepage springs offering oxygenated water in the Chemocline, trout will not be found in this zone.
Chironomids – Midges: The most prolific insect in lakes around the world, the chiromomidae are classified as “true” flies, with two sets of wings and resembling their cousin the mosquito, but they do not bite. Phillip Rowly in his book, Fly Patterns for Stillwaters, notes that there are over 2500 species of Chironomids in North America, and they make up approximately 40% of a trout’s diet almost year around. This is a bug worth getting to know! (Refer to the article on Stillwater fishing for more details and strategies.)
Cover: Read any good bass fishing book and you will learn everything there is to know about stillwater fishing for trout. Keep in mind the obvious. Trout need cover to protect themselves from overhead predators. They need overhead obstructions or camouflaging to break up their outline. They need cooler waters that provide sufficient oxygen, and they need to be close to good sources of food. So in alphabetical order, here are some “fishy” spots to target: algae blooms, bays, branches, channels, cliffs, downed trees, drop-offs, feeder streams, inlets and outlets, points, rocks, river channels, shoals (submerged island), springs, vegetation.
Counting Down: The dilemma of a stillwater fly angler in deeper water is not knowing how far down the fly line and fly have settled. Keep in mind that bass and trout do not look down. If they have acclimated to a particular depth, which is comfortable, they are unlikely to dive down to a food source. To search out these suspended fish which are typically near the bottom, an angler must time his sinking cast prior to retrieving it through a particular zone or depth. Once feeding trout have moved out of the shallows for safety and sanctuary, they station themselves at a suspended depth. Progressively allow each cast to sink deeper by counting seconds prior to retrieval. Keep in mind that the longer cast that you make will keep the fly in a particular depth or zone before the retrieval gradually lifts the fly to the surface. The countdown method is also beneficial when you are pulling your fly just above underwater plants and vegetation. The countdown method is most useful when fishing sinking lines, which have a particular sink rate. (See fly line sink rates.)
Cripple: When a hatch occurs, quite a few pupa struggle and get tied up in their nymphal shucks. These cripples make easy pickings for trout, as Chironomid upon reaching the surface film often escape as duns into the air in a matter of seconds.
Damselflies: Delicate, slender and long bodied, the Damselfly is easily recognized in “Smurff” blue. Fly anglers, however, are more interested in the Damselfly when it is a nymph slowly swimming around and feasting on other insects. Living in fairly shallow water, their migration to stalks or pilings for their metamorphic escape into maturity provides great opportunity for trout and angler alike.
Dragonflies: Are you too young to have seen the movie Predator? If you missed it, see it as soon as possible, and you will understand the nature of a Dragonfly, the predator of the underwater, insect world. They make their way into the stomachs of trout and bass only in the nymph stage. One advantage for the angler is that the nymph stage often spans two or three years, hence size does NOT matter in this circumstance, as size is relative to age. Dragonfly nymphs are “Go-To” patterns, and the most common imitation is the Woolly Bugger.
Drainage Lake: This is a natural lake characterized by an inlet and an outlet.
Dropper Fly: Using a second or third fly is referred to as a dropper. Quiet often a smaller dropper nymph is tied directly to the hook bend of the point fly. Some anglers reverse the size order and place a larger fly as the dropper so that it looks like it is pursuing a smaller fly just ahead of it.
Dun: From larva to pupae to the dun stages, the dun is ready to mate and perpetuate the cycle of life.
Fly Line Sink Rates:
Searching Patterns: In the absence of rising fish, or fish located cruising though the area, a searching pattern is the “Go-To” choice. Determine the most prolific food sources for a particular body of water. Of these, which food sources are most abundant throughout the season? The experts recommend beginning with the ubiquitous Chironomid midge, followed by scuds and dragonfly nymphs and damsel nymphs. Finally, a leech pattern is a good “Go-To” searching pattern anytime of the year. Be sure to cast in all directions around your anchored boat.
Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear: This is a must have nymph pattern for high and low elevation lakes. For high elevation lakes this patter and a Zug Bug are sometimes all that you need.
Hatch: Being in the hatch on the hatch or near the hatch is like being in the front row of an opera or behind home plate. It is close to the action when large numbers of insects emerge and trout begin gorging themselves. When the hatch dies, look for the same hatch at another location of the lake, such as an area enveloped in mountain shade. These areas are more gradual to warm during cool spring mornings. Morris and Chan remind us that “good” hatches are not always so noticeable and can be missed. Watch for surface feeding and birds darting around catching their meal.
Heavy Water: When water reaches 39 degrees it becomes heavy and settles towards the bottom whereas the surface water hovers at 32 degrees to form ice. Trout seek out these warmer water conditions during the winter.
Hexagenia Mayfly: The Godzilla of mayflies, these giants of stillwater are revered and prayed upon by trout and anglers in the know. Short hatching periods near dark, keep initiated anglers chuckling to themselves or making packs with their partners on vows of secrecy. Recognized by brilliant yellow coloration, Hex duns are imitated on hooks in size 8 to 4 on long shank hooks!
Hinge Effect: On fast sinking lines and sink tips, the uneven decent of the line creates a hinge effect which adversely effects line control. The uniform sinking intermediate lines do not have this problem.
Ice-Out: Trout are hungry after ice-out, although due to the cold water temperatures they are sluggish. Target inlets where trout will stage for their spring spawning runs.
Interception: If a trout is feeding on the surface, make an effort to anticipate the movement of the trout and place a dropped fly in its path.
Kickboat: Replacing the dangerous Belly Boats of yesteryear, kickboats utilize two pontoons with a rowing frame. They are safe, easy to transport and still keep the angler low on the water. With swim fins and oars, kickboats can cover a large area.
Life Vest: I distained wearing a life vest all my life until at age 60 I got myself in trouble in a near drowning incident of my own stupidity. I now wear a suspenders type inflatable, and I forget I have it on it is so unobtrusive.
Larva: This is the worm stage of an underwater insect as it grows and matures. Many larva construct tubes or shells made of fiber or mud. They feed on vegetation and keep a low profile. Dragging themselves across the bottom their movements are slow and usually undetected. During lake turnover (see turnover) or during windy periods where the waves pull and fold water at the surface, shallow living larva are dislodged from the bottom and make an easy meal for hungry trout. Chironomid larva often live in deeper water. During spring they migrate towards the shore, and trout and trout anglers are on the look out.
Leeches: I am not swayed by the fact that the great majority of leeches are not of the blood-sucking variety. I remember as a young man frantically flicking and swiping them off my muddy pants in sheer panic. And yes, I recently watched the movie African Queen and I will be no less panicked the next time they cling to my body, covered or not. And yet I fondly recall catching a huge brown in the Hog Pond near Anaconda, Montana in the early 80’s on a big, brown leech imitation. Leech patterns are “Go-To” patterns in summer when hatches are on the wane. Good imitations are Woolly Buggers, Beadhead Woolly, and the Marabou Leech. Leech patterns are more ammunition for “Go-To” search patterns, but keep your retrieve agonizingly slow!
Line Control: Always keep slack out of your finished cast and point the rod tip down to the water. A straight line communicates a bite whereas loose coils floating on the surface do not register a subtle take. A lowered rod tip removes slack or sagging line. The same principle is true with leaders. Use a piece of rubber or leather to stretch the coils out of a leader prior to attaching a fly.
Littoral Zone: Shoreline
Match-the-Hatch: Observe and match the color of the abdomen.
Nymph: From egg to larva, the next stage is the nymph stage. (See Pupae.)
Pelagial Zone: Open water out in the middle of a lake
Profundal Zone: Down on the bottom of the Profundal Zone, beyond light penetration, little or no oxygen is present to sustain fish.
Pupae: After the larva, or worm stage, the pupae mature in one or two years. Sporting gills and slender bodies, they linger in this stage long enough to become vulnerable to feeding trout. Bobbing and dipping on the bottom, they gather trapped air and gas, which is their ticket out of Mudville. Slowly they ascend to the surface where they shuck their husks, dry their newly emerged wings and fly off to seek a mate and once again insure the survival of their species. Some linger on the surface too long and are leisurely sipped by cruising trout.
Pauses: “All creatures great and small” eventually poop out and pause to catch their breath. Trout know this and dart in on the pauses of rising insects. More trout are taken on the pause than the retrieve say the experts so keep pausing in anticipation!
Hand-Twist Retrieve: The Hand-Twist retrieve is a forced slow retrieve, a reminder that many of the patterns that imitate forage creep along the bottom at a snail’s pace. Assuming that the angler is right handed and controlling the line above the reel with the line pinched at the top, the angler pinches the line between his thumb and forefinger on his left hand a few inches below the right hand. Now, simply roll the left hand across the line and cup the line in the palm of your hand. Pinch the line above and keep rolling the line up in your palm. Add frequent pauses in your retrieve.
Short Strip Retrieve: The next short retrieve simply strips in line four to six inches at a time punctuated by frequent pauses. A good ratio is strip-strip-strip-pause in a fairly rapid manner.
Fast, Streamer Retrieve: Pulling line downwards and behind you in two foot increments is best suited for streamer fishing. Croft recommends tucking the rod under your armpit and stripping in line with two hands like salt-water fly anglers.
No Retrieve: Gary LaFontaine, in his book, Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes, states that “a slow retrieve outfished a quick retrieve 4 to 1 and no retrieve outfished a slow retrieve four to one….I’m a specialist at not moving a fly—nymph, dry, wet, or streamer—on lakes.” (p.15)
Scuds: Frequently referred to as freshwater shrimp, scuds are crustaceans and an important food source for stillwater trout. Ranging in colors from tan to green and from a quarter of an inch to almost an inch, these creatures crawl or erratically swim in woody or weeded areas year-around, particularly in more alkaline spring waters.
Seepage Lake: One defining aspect of a seepage lake is that it does not have tributaries, feeder creeks or an outlet. Springs and seepage from mountainsides or ground water maintain fertile waters conducive to fish growth. Thermal heating with no escape to cooler waters will periodically kill trout in a seepage lake.
Sight Fishing: Spotting a cruising fish and making a perfect cast is the ultimate challenge of stillwater fly fishing. It is made somewhat easier with polarized sun glasses and a low profile, which is why Belly Boats and Kickboats are popular.
Silence and Stealth: What is true for the bass fisherman is true for the stillwater fisherman. The rattling thrust and churning of props, along with dropping objects onto the bottom of the boat, send shock waves of sound far beyond a caster’s range. Voices, however, do not penetrate the deep and are carried by the wind across the water unbeknownst to the trout below. Once fish are alarmed and take fright, you are wasting your time fishing in a vacated, dead zone. Move into a targeted zone in silence and stealth. Tidy up your boat so that Thermos bottles and coffee cups don’t jolt trout with shocking reverberations like an annoying alarm clock
Spinner: From larva to pupae to the dun stages, the dun is ready to mate and perpetuate the cycle. After mating the insects are spent and fall to the water dying as spinners. Some species fly to cover, however, and do not provide a “spinner fall” feast for hungry trout.
Strike Indicator: Similar to a bobber, the strike indicator is usually placed so that the fly is suspended a foot or more from the bottom. So many strike indicators line the shelves in fly shops that I can’t keep track of them all. I have tried most. The Corkies work great, but I am always short of tooth picks. The fold-over foam pads really gum up a leader when you remove them. Remember, an unweighted fly takes for ever to get to the bottom so add a tiny piece of weight. (See Weighted Flies.) Fishing with strike indicators is a waiting game, so be patient as this is a very effective method of fishing. Multiple flies help determine what the fish are keying into.
Stripping Basket (Aprons): Casting 50 to 80 feet of line can be challenging enough, but when you go to shot the line at the end of a double-haul and it snags on your feet or on a boat cleat, it becomes frustrating. Stripping baskets and aprons contain the line both on the retrieve and the cast.
Thermocline: The thermocline is a narrow zone of water lower in oxygen than the surface. It tends to hover just above the Chemocline as the surface waters heat up during the summer months. Trout will often seek refuge near the thermocline.
Trolling: Nothing new here! Fly anglers were trolling with flies long before outboard motors. Armed with a streamer pattern or wet fly, trolling is still an effective technique to reconnoiter unfamiliar waters. Use full-sinking lines, and use oar power to allow the line to sink to the bottom in ten to twenty feet of water. One difficulty, however, is placing your rod in easy reach. Missed opportunities are common. Row into the wind to slow the trolling speed down.
Turn-over: During the spring and again in the fall, the water at the bottom of the lake moves upwards, which is caused from the wind’s waves folding water over and over. This in turn tends to generate a current which draws water from the bottom towards the surface. This mixing of waters is beneficial in that it folds in oxygen and it pulls sediment from the bottom up to the surface which aids insects. The Thermocline, the division of surface water and warmer, heavier water on the bottom, blends. Fish move to shallower water. During the fall the turn-over reverses itself.
Water Boatman (Corixia): Although not highly recommended by the experts as a “Go-To” pattern, Water Boatmen are actually flying beetles that spend time in and out of the water. They are easily observed in shallow water under the surface. During pauses it drifts upwards to the surface a bit before it continues swimming.
Wind: Yes, the wind is the nemesis of the fly angler, but it also provides rippled water cover for trout to slide into the shallows and feed on drowned insects. If you can manage your boat in a strong wind, the waves against the shoreline stir up mud and creatures for trout to feed upon. Be careful what you pray for because CALM waters can really slow the fishing down.
Wind Slicks: These isolated islands of mirror like water in rippled waters, make for good feeding windows for trout hiding along the rippled edges waiting for a visible morsel.
Weighted Flies: A weighted fly is wrapped with lead wire or a metal bead or even a heavy, stout hook. Unweighted flies can be settled to the bottom with a small split-shot, lead wire or a pinch of lead putty on one of the blood knots on the leader.
Wind Drifting: I agree with Denny Rickards’ position that Wind Drifting is ineffective and a waste of time.
Most of the material in this article is from the following books. I have placed them not in alphabetical order, but in my personal order of preference. I have looked for consensus and shared common information. Whenever I use information specific to one author, I have cited the author’s name rather than using end notes.
1. Fly-Fishing Stillwaters for Trophy Trout by Denny Rickards (ISBN: 0-9656458-0-0) A Stillwater Productions Publication, PO Box 470, Fort Klamath, OR 97626
Rickards’ book is 181 glossy pages of beautiful photographs and illustrations and a clear treatise on stillwater fly fishing for trophy trout. He is both methodical and thorough. Sharing years of original research, Rickards holds nothing back. He wants every reader who applies his principles to achieve success. It is a beautiful and absorbing book.
2. The Fish Bum’s Guide to Catching Larger Trout, an illustrated manual on stillwater tactics for the intermediate fly angler, written and illustrated by Mike Croft
(ISBN: 1-57188-142-5) Frank Amato Publications. In the spirit and tradition of The Curtis Creek Fly Fishing Manifesto, I couldn’t resist buying this book. After reading a half dozen books on stillwater fly fishing, I knew I had to place this book as my second choice. It is packed with information and quite possibly just as comprehensive as the rest. For a young angler new to stillwater fly fishing, I would recommend this book as a primer. It is excellent to review and peruse because it is illustrated, and the verbiage has been whittled down.
3. Fly Patterns for Stillwaters, a Study of Trout, Entomology and Tying, by Phillip Rowley (ISBN: 1-57188-195-6) Frank Amato Publications. Rowley is an expert in the field of fly fishing, and he has written many books and feature articles. I bought this book for the tying directions, but what I found was that the book covers almost all the important aspects of stillwater fly fishing from presentation and retrieves to seasons, and the interesting life cycle of all the insects he imitates.
4. Morris & Chan on Fly Fishing Trout Lakes, by Skip Morris and Brian Chan
(ISBN: 1-57188-181-6) Frank Amato Publications. Morris and Chan have produced an exceptionally written, photographed and illustrated book for the beginning or intermediate stillwater fly angler. It is certainly a tie for my second choice. It ended up in the number four spot only because I felt I had to place Rowley’s fly pattern book up close to the top.
5. Strategies for Stillwater, by Dave Hughes (0-8117-1916-2) Stackpole Books. I read every word in Hughes’ book and can recommend it as a definitive book on stillwater fly fishing. I do not enjoy reading instructional books on any subject when they are bereft of bold headings, boxed information, lots of photographs and illustrations and a format that aids in reviewing the information. Nonetheless, Strategies for Stillwater is as comprehensive as Denny Rickards’ book, and I learned a great deal from reading it.
6. ‘The Gilly’ A flyfisher’s Guide by Contributors (ISBN:0-88925-638-1) Published by Alf Davy. An excellent resource, especially for those anglers heading to British Columbia, it too is organized and presented as mostly text.
7. Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes by Gary LaFontaine (ISBN: 0-9626663-7-8)
Greycliff Publishing Company. This book is a great read both for information on fishing high elevation lakes as well as a chronicle of LaFontaine’s fishing adventures. I loved it, but I also became somewhat depressed with how much equipment the experts rely on in fishing as an expert!