Floating Flies and How to Dress Them

Floating Flies and How to Dress Them
Author Frederic M. Halford
Country England
Language English
Subject Fly fishing
Publisher Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington; London
Publication date
April 1886
Pages 136
Followed by Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice (1889)

Floating Flies and How to Dress Them - A Treatise on the Most Modern Methods of Dressing Artificial Flies for Trout and Grayling with Full Illustrated Directions and Containing Ninety Hand-Coloured Engravings of the Most Killing Patterns Together with a Few Hints to Dry-Fly Fishermen is a fly fishing book written by Frederic M. Halford published in London in April 1886 by Sampson Low. A deluxe edition (100 copies) on large paper sold out before publication and the trade edition of 500 nearly so.[1]


Plate III - Blue Duns and Hare's Ears

Floating Flies and How to Dress Them provides an in-depth study of nearly 100 duns and spinners in the English chalk streams of Hampshire County. The book contains detailed drawings and instructions on how to create hand-made artificial flies. Included is information on types of hooks and implements to use, plus tips on dyeing materials and how to dress the flies on eyed-hooks. The book contains ten colorplates and many black and white line drawings illustrating specific techniques.


And now I come to books which are nothing if not practical. Of these, Mr. F. M. Halford's “Floating Flies and How to Dress Them,” and his “Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice,” command the first place, as being, within certain limits, the best books on fishing with the artificial fly ever written. The limits are these. His books apply to the capture or brown trout and grayling only, salmon and sea trout being outside their purview.[2]

...when, in 1886, Mr. Halford published an important work on “Floating Flies and How to Dress Them.” he had practically a virgin field before him. His Dry-Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice,” published in 1889, became the standard work upon the subject.[3]

The dry-fly revolution that really got rolling with the appearance of Halford's first book, Floating Flies and How to Dress Them (1886) got plenty of attention in American books and articles.[5]

It is hard to state how great Halford's influence was. His name became almost synonymous with chalk stream fishing and his innovations did not go unnoticed abroad. It was Halford's work that inspired M. Albert Petit to write the book that re-introduced and popularized fly fishing in France. .... Halford was also an important influence on American fly-tying: by 1888 Floating Flies and How to Dress Them could be purchased for twelve dollars from Forest and Stream and his flies were available from William and Mills of New York in the same year.[6]

The response from the public to this impressive book was a first very favorable. Halford's scrapbook contains twenty-seven review notices, in which positive and gratifying adjectives abound: 'Practical, and at the same time delightfully-written', 'Thorough, clear and interesting', 'His almost unequalled experience', 'A real treat to get a book so plain and purposelike, and so beautifully got up in all respects'. The Field thought it 'something more than deeply interesting...a landmark.' The Globe wrote: 'The directions are beautifully clear, and anglers will be specially delighted with the illustrations.' Punch awarded the accolade in verse form: A capital volume, and no one will doubt it; No fisherman now should ever be without it.[7]

Halford's first book: Floating Flies and How to Dress Them (1886) was a concise and beautiful fly tying manual and fly pattern reference book, but contained only a brief chapter on how to actually fish with dry flies.[8]


Other editions

From Antiquarian Book Exchange

Additional reading

See also

External links


  1. Hayter, Tony (2002). F.M. Halford and the Dry-Fly Revolution. London: Rober Hale. p. 110. ISBN 0-7090-6773-9.
  2. Editor (July 22, 1894). "FISHING FACTS IN ENGLAND; EXPRESSED IN CLUB MEMBERSHIP, LIBRARY, AND REPORTS. Books of Antiquarian Research, Natural History, Practical Hints, and Mere Records of Slaughter -- Increase in Knowledge of Fish and in Cunning of Men -- Decrease in Number of Streams and Rivers Fit for Fly Fishers.". N.Y. Times. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
  3. Gill, Emlyn M. (June 15, 1913). "A "COMPLEAT ANGLER"; Mr. Halford's Authoritative Work on Dry-Fly Fishing a Practical Help to Followers of Izaak Walton". N.Y. Times. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
  4. Hills, John Waller (1921). A History of Fly Fishing For Trout. London: Phillp Allan & Co. pp. 129–132.
  5. Schullery, Paul (1996). American Fly Fishing-A History. Norwalk, CT: The Easton Press. p. 108.
  6. Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. p. 295. ISBN 1-899600-19-1.
  7. Hayter, Tony (2002). F.M. Halford and the Dry-Fly Revolution. London: Rober Hale. p. 112. ISBN 0-7090-6773-9.
  8. Halford, F. M. (2007). Schullery, Paul, ed. Halford on the Dry Fly. Mechanicsburg, Pa: Stackpole Books. pp. x. ISBN 978-0-8117-0272-0.
  9. Fearing, Daniel Butler (1901). Check List of Books on Angling, Fish, Fisheries, Fish-culture, Etc. in the Library of Daniel B. Fearing (PDF). New York: Private.
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