Bibliography of fly fishing

Fly fishing book plate from Louis Rhead (1907)[1]

This general annotated bibliography page provides an overview of notable and not so notable works in the English language regarding the sport of fly fishing, listed by year of first publication. Although not all the listed books are devoted exclusively to fly fishing, all these titles contain significant fly fishing content. The focus of the present page is on classic general texts on fly fishing and its history, together with notable public or university library collections dedicated to fly fishing.


Annotations may reflect descriptive comments from the book's dust jacket, third party reviews or personal, descriptive and qualitative comments by individuals who have read the book. Some older works have links to online versions in the Internet Archive or Google Books.

Notable fly-fishing library collections

The Purpose of the Fly Fishing Collection at Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections is to collect, preserve, and provide access to diverse materials supporting study of the sport of fly fishing.

The collection includes books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs, artworks, audio and video personal interviews and histories, and fly fishing artifacts such as rods, reels, flies, and fly tying materials.[2]

A sub-collection within the larger fly fishing collection at Western Washington University is the Paul and Mary Ann Ford Fly Fishing Collection which includes

American works about fly fishing in America that are of fine quality in both physical presentation and content. The collection's current emphasis is on the spiritual, sociological, and aesthetic aspects of fly fishing. In addition to books, the collection includes magazines, paintings, prints, sculpture, and needlework. The Fords began transferring the collection to Western Libraries Special Collections in late 2003. It will be transferred in stages and will include newly published works of distinction selected by the Fords.[3]
The Kienbusch Collection at Princeton University contains some of the most extraordinary gems in the history of angling literature. There are about 1500 books and manuscripts in all, representing the collective wisdom of five centuries of angling writers, from Berners to Bergman and beyond ....[4]
... the Daniel B. Fearing collection, one of the largest and most important (if also little known) pools of texts, manuscripts and journalson angling, fish culture, fisheries and whaling logs in the world.
Darin S. Kinsey, An Angler's Literary Paradise (2007)[5]
The Library of the University of British Columbia has an excellent collection of books on angling and fly-fishing, known as the Harry Hawthorn Collection. At present it totals more than 1800 books, including many rare and valuable items. This Collection came about as the result of a fishing holiday in 1953 by eight UBC professors and Roderick Haig-Brown at Upper Campbell Lake.
The Milne Angling Collection includes a large number of volumes that represent the very beginnings of angling literature. Dame Juliana Berners' A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496) is considered the first book on the subject printed in England. Although some question her authorship, Berners, who was prioress of the Benedictine abbey of Sopwell, occupies a similar place in angling literature to that accorded Chaucer in English literature. The Milne Collection contains several editions of Berners' work dating from the 1827 William Pickering edition to modern versions, such as the one published in John McDonald's Quill Gordon (1972).
Since our beginnings in the late Nineteenth Century, the MSU Libraries has striven to develop a world–class research collection in support of the academic goals of our university, including those of local interest with national and international resonance. Sixty years of research on fish and fisheries has given MSU a strong tradition on which to build the nation's preeminent trout and salmonid collection. Not only does the collection support this world–class research, but it is a focal point of local and regional pride for those who care about the salmonid species’ well being and about the waters that flow through this region. Housed in the MSU Libraries’ Merrill G. Burlingame Special Collections, this collection is open to the public for use on the premises in a controlled archival environment.

15th-century texts

Although it was once regarded as the source from which all later works on fly fishing sprang, the Treatyse can now, more correctly, be regarded as a British text on fly fishing which happens to have survived, although its status as the earliest English printed book on fishing means that it remains hugely influential.
Dr. Andrew Herd, The Fly, 2001[6]

17th-century texts

18th-century texts

He makes mention of the multiplying reel, the first time we hear of it, but evidently not unknown before his day. In the second part of the book, which has the special title The Complete Fly-fisher, he describes the dressing of many flies and their killing powers. Upon the whole, it is a practical and sensible work.
James Robb, Notable Angling Literature, 1945[10]

19th-century texts

As John Waller Hills says in Fly Fishing for Trout, "Its excellence lies in three features: the directions for fly fishing including one of the early recommendations of upstream fishing, the directions for fly dressing, and the knowledge shewn of the life of the natural fly, which is in advance of anything that had appeared before”
Sylvester Nemes, 2004.[14]
Thaddeus Norris, who Arnold Gingrich called the American Walton, is widely regarded as the most important American angling author of the nineteenth century. His American Angler's Book, first published in 1864, lasted far longer that most modern fishing books seem to, and was a monument of practical instruction
Paul Schullery, The American Fly Fisher, 1980.[17]

Fly-fishing history, bibliographies and literature reviews

His history is suspect, at best. Westwood and Sachell, in their milestone Bibliotheca Piscatoria (1883), give the following opinions of Historical Sketches: "A slip-shod and negligent work, devoid of all real utility. A mere farrago of matter relevant and irrelevant, of indiscriminate sweepings from miscellaneous sources, of quotations incorrectly given and of so-called original passages the vaqueness and uncertainty of which rob them of all weight and value. Names and dates are seldom given, or are inaccurately...." They go on to catalog a few of the grosser errors and conclude that the book's only value is in its excellent bibliography, which, as we will see, also has its problems.
Paul Schullery, The American Fly Fisher, 1985.[22]
Arnold Gingrich, founding editor of Esquire magazine, is a tremendous part of the literary history of fly fishing. The Fishing In Print, The Joys of Trout, and The Well-Tempered Angler are indispensable titles to the well-read fly fisherman of today.
Glenn Law, A Concise History of Fly Fishing, 1995.[25]
In seven essays sometimes controversial, sometimes reflective, all fascinating, Paul Schullery ruminates on the evolution of fly fishing and delves into the big issues affecting the world of fly fishing today and tomorrow. Dams’ effect on fishing, the supposed cruelty of catch-and-release, competition among fly fishers, spinning versus fly fishing, and how transportation has changed the sport are just a few of the topics he covers.
The Fireside Angler.[30]


General fly fishing

Sam Slaymaker is a 'complete' a fly fisherman as we have, and despite his profession of simplification, he hasn't held back one iota of his own sophisticated practice of writing in this book
Arnold Gingrich, The Joys of Trout, 1973[34]

See also


  1. Rhead, Louis. A Collection of Bookplate Designs. Boston: W. Porter Truesdell. p. 23.
  2. Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections. "The Fly Fishing Collection". Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  3. Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections. "Paul and Mary Ann Ford Fly Fishing Collection". Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  4. Merritt, J. I. (Summer 1980). "The Kienbusch Collection". The American Fly Fisher. 7 (3): 3.
  5. Kinsey, Darin S. (Fall 2007). "An Angler's Literary Paradise" (PDF). The American Fly Fisher. Manchester, VT: The American Museum of Fly Fishing. 33 (4): 16–17. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
  6. Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. p. 43. ISBN 1-899600-19-1.
  7. Leonard, J. Edson (1950). Flies-Their origin, natural history, tying, hooks, patterns and selections of dry and wet flies, nymphs, streamers, salmon flies for fresh and salt water in North America and the British Isles, including a Dictionary of 2200 Patterns. New York: A.S. Barnes and Company. p. 33.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. ISBN 1-899600-19-1.
  9. Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. p. 204. ISBN 1-899600-19-1.
  10. Robb, James (1945). Notable Angling Literature. London: Herbert Jenkins Limited. p. 94.
  11. Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. p. 88. ISBN 1-899600-19-1.
  12. Schullery, Paul (1996). American Fly Fishing-A History. Norwalk, CT: The Easton Press. p. 85.
  13. Schullery, Paul (2006). Reading The Rise-Streamside Observations on Trout, Flies and Fly Fishing. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 37.
  14. 1 2 Nemes, Sylvester (2004). Two centuries of soft-hackled flies-A survey of literature complete with original patterns (PDF). Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 1. ISBN 0-8117-0048-8.
  15. Schullery, Paul (1999). Royal Coachman-The Lore and Legends of Fly-Fishing. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 175–76. ISBN 0-684-84246-7.
  16. The Reed Draper Collection of Angling Books, Clark Historical Library, Central Michigan University,
  17. Schullery, Paul (Fall 1980). "Editor's Note to Fly Fishing Alone by Thaddeus Norris". The American Fly Fisher. 7 (4): 2.
  18. Westwood, T.; Satchell, T (1883). Bibliotheca Piscatoria-A Catalogue of Books on Angling, The Fisheries and Fish Culture with citations touching on angling and fishing from old English authors. Covent Garden, London: W. Satchell. p. 165.
  19. Schullery, Paul, Reading The Rise
  20. The Flyfishers Classic Library
  21. MacKenzie, N. A. M., I Went A-Fishing - A Most Informal Foreword in Starkman, Susan B.; Read, Stanley E. (1970). The Contemplative Man's Recreation: A Bibliography of Books on Angling and Game Fish in the Library of The University of British Columbia. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: The Library of the University of British Columbia. p. 7.
  22. Schullery, Paul (Summer 1985). "America's "Lost" Angling Books: Robert Blakey's Tantalizing References to Early American Fishing Books". The American Fly Fisher. 12 (3): 22–25.
  23. The Harry Hawthorn Foundation, University of British Columbia
  24. University of New Hampshire Library, Milne Angling Collection Selected Highlights,
  25. Law, Glenn (1995). A Concise History of Fly Fishing. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions. p. 162.
  26. Schreiber, Le Anne, IN SHORT: NONFICTION; GIANTS OF THE ROD AND REEL, New York Times Books Review, November 15th, 1987,
  27. Bryant, Nelson, OUTDOORS; Books on Fly-Fishing Bring History and Tips, New York Times Book Review,
  28. Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Association
  29. McAlister, Jamie, The Non-Fiction Bookpage
  30. Fireside Angler
  31. Google Books Review
  32. Lawton, Terry. "Fish and Fly Book Review".
  33. Johnson, George, New & Noteworthy, October 4th, 1987, New York Times Book Review,
  34. Gingrich, Arnold (1973). The Joys of Trout. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. pp. 140–42. ISBN 0-517-50584-3.
  35. Serviente, Barry (1996). Angler's Art Catalog. Plainfield, PA: The Anglers Art. p. 91.
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