May 29, 2018

Book Review: Modern Steelhead Flies

Fly tying has been something that's sparked my interest ever since I was 10 years old- fascinated with one's creative use of feathers and floss attached to an iron of sorts. Early on I focused mostly on trout and bass flies as a product of my Colorado environment, but having relocating to the Northwest after college I naturally gravitated towards the swung fly and steelhead. Immediately, I took note of the flies being used and the lore surrounding such patterns. Undoubtedly steelhead will take nymphs and egg patterns, though I've only ever swung flies to them. Classic flies such as small hair wing patterns or fancy Atlantic Salmon patterns converted for steelhead still certainly work and I certainly still fish them, but with today's advanced materials available there's been an exigence for new literature on modern steelhead flies- exactly what this book is. With countless patterns out there it's easy to get lost at the tying table trying to find "the one" pattern that will work for you. Modern Steelhead Flies incorporates patterns from 60 of the best tiers in the game to help eliminate some confusion and inspire new ideas. There's pages loaded with shrimp/prawn-like patterns, blacks and blues, dry flies, nymphs, Great Lakes region flies, summer patterns, etc., that will send you strait to the tying table for hours on end if you're not careful.
 Loosely based off the Fifth Element, this well-fished pattern had great success this past winter. 

I often like to take established patterns and change things up a little to suit my style or to work with the available materials I've got on hand. Take the cover fly for example, the Fifth Element uses a couple materials in ways I hadn't thought of before, however I generally prefer fishing unweighted flies so I simply adapted it and substituted a couple things. Which is mostly what fly tying is- adaptations off other platforms, and this book will certainly get your creative juices flowing! 

My foam SOTY (Skater Of The Year), next to a variant of Lee Spencer's Burnt Toast Muddler

Come the summer-run season, my affinity towards floating lines and surface disturbances leads to a dry fly addiction. I tinkered with various ideas last year and ended up with my "SOTY" fly (pictured above) and between summer and fall I had moved a couple dozen fish as it skated and sputtered across the surface. I also had spent many hours at a special pool talking with conservationist Lee Spencer, where he gifted me one of his "pointless" Burnt Toast moose hair muddlers- a pattern of his that he's fished exclusively for the last 20 years. His fly led me to tie one with a hot spot on the butt-end and I simply trim the head a little more flat on the bottom- A great fly for pushing water without being as obnoxious as some twitched or chugged skaters such as the Ska-Opper. 

Indeed, this book won't guarantee you'll become an expert tier or even catch more fish, but it will help you understand the background of many of these patterns and how they came to be, along with great fishing tips for featured flies. Furthermore, it will help you with trouble shooting through problems such simple stuff like selecting the right materials for your flies. There's 14 detailed patterns and over 400 step-by-step images. The authors have dedicated their lives to this sport that we're so fascinated with through conservation, fly tying, biology, editorials, classes, photography, etc. Their experience and expertise shines brightly throughout this 300+ page well engineered book. If you're a steelheader who enjoys tying your own flies, or are looking to begin tying, do yourself a favor and grab a copy as this book is a must have!

Happy tying...

Cody Booth
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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