Grab a list of the best fly fishing books for newbie anglers. If you’re starting out in fly fishing, you’ll want to check out these reads.
When I was getting my graduate degree back in the early 2000s, my friend/fellow student Jennifer and I had an ongoing tradition. For every new class that we weren’t excited about (like Microeconomics for example), we would buy a “Dummies guide.”
We thought we were pretty smart in our late 20s, and our goal with the dummies books was to shortcut the most boring parts of certain classes that we didn’t enjoy yet still absorb the material that we would inevitably be tested on. Work smarter, not harder, right?
The funny thing about buying all these beginner books is that they had more of a positive impact that I anticipated. I thought that we’d only end up buying them for our least favorite courses. But they enhanced the learning process so much that we began buying them for every class.
My graduate degree was mostly lectures, group projects, and papers – with some book reading sprinkled in. Throw in the dummies guides, and we really had a (unintended) comprehensive method for learning all the class material. Since that time, when I’m trying something new, I frequently buy a book!
Before the dummies time of my life, I assumed if you were going to learn about a sport that the best practice was just to “get out and do it.” And yes, that is true to some extent. But what can also enhance the learning process, and get you excited at the same time, is reading about it!
Which brings me to learning fly fishing. If you’re a newbie fly fisherman, there’s nothing that substitutes field experience. You can’t learn to cast from the couch. BUT these best-selling books can also help get your skills up to speed. You can learn about fly fishing essentials, river etiquette, catch and release . . . all by simply cracking open a book.
And fly fishing books are nice for those times that you can’t get out on the river because of weather, time of year, or other obligations. Reading an angling book can give you the fishing fix that you’re looking for! Plus make you a more educated fisherman at the same time.
They also make great fly fishing gifts. Especially if you have no idea what else to get. Fishermen love reading about fishermen and how tos.
If you’re interested in some fly fishing reading material, I’ve put together a list of the best fishing books money can by in the list below. Read through and then let me know in comments which ones you own . . . or other recommendations you’d put on this list. Enjoy!
Fly Fishing Books
If you're new to fly fishing, this list of the best fly fishing books will help get you started. These are some of the most popular and informative titles available. You'll find information on how to tie flies, trout patterns, casting techniques, nymphing tactics, and more!
The Total Fly Fishing Manual: 307 Essential Skills and Tips
Filled with over 300 hints from the best anglers in both salt and fresh water, the editors of Field and Stream give you everything you need to make the perfect pitch, find a secret spot and score a fish. I love the image, illustrations, and matter-of-fact tone of this guide. There is a TON of information on every aspect of fly fishing here.
Complete Book of Fishing Knots, Leaders, and Lines
Being able to tie knots is a crucial part of fly fishing. There’s nothing more frustrating than letting a poorly tied knot cost you the catch of the day! Knot expert Lindsey Philpott has written a guide to save anglers everywhere that anguish. Each knot is explained with step-by-step instructions and color photographs, all done using a thick monofilament to make them as easy to see as possible. You'll also get a glossary of terms.
The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide, Revised
This is one of the best selling fly fishing books of all time - hence it's a title you'll want to have in your library! It's actually great for both experienced fishermen and newbies. Includes info on casting, flies, presentation, stillwater and salt tactics, techniques (like tenkara), and etiquette. For a fly fishing guide, this touches just about everything you'd want to learn.
The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies
If you're a fly tyer, this book will be intriguing to you. The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies focuses on milestone flies from the first feathered hook to contemporary patterns using cutting-edge materials. These iconic flies also chart the spread of this addictive sport from its modern origins on the chalk streams of southern England and the rivers of Scotland to the U.S., Europe, South America, Australia, and now to every country in the world.
Tactical Fly Fishing: Lessons Learned from Competition for All Anglers
Devin Olsen explains how the techniques he has used to become a repeat medalist in fly fishing competitions around the world can be adapted to everyday fly fishing situations. He covers strategies, tactics, and flies for rivers, small streams, and still waters, allowing anyone to fish more successfully by applying the approaches taken by competitive anglers.
The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing
The mission of this book is to demystify and un-complicate the tricks and tips that make a great trout fisher. There are no complicated physics lessons here. Rather, The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing offers a simple, digestible primer on the basic elements of fly fishing: the cast, presentation, reading water, and selecting flies.
Fly fishing isn't just about having an accurate cast or the number of fish you catch - it's also all about the stories. is a fresh, contemporary look at fly fishing, and the way of life that grows out of a passion for it. John Gierach, a serious fisherman with a wry sense of humor, gives a unique look at the fly-fishing lifestyle. Now I want to be a trout bum.
The Optimist: A Case for the Fly Fishing Life
This book tackles the secrets, frustrations, and triumphs of fly fishing. Each chapter focuses on a specific place, fish, and skill - which makes it unique. Author David Coggins takes on some unique fishing challenges, traveling from one to one fishing paradise after another, including the great rivers of Patagonia, private chalk streams in England, remote ponds in Maine, and New York City’s Jamaica Bay.
How to Think Like a Fish: And Other Lessons from a Lifetime in Angling
I'm a big fan of the show River Monsters as well as the host, Jeremy Wade. This is his first best-selling book, in which he recounts his adventures on six continents in pursuit of fish of staggering proportions and terrifying demeanor. Thoughtful and funny, brimming with wisdom and adventure, these are reflections that anyone who has ever fished will identify with, for ultimately it touches on what fishing teaches us all about life.
Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon
I've never been fishing in Florida, but it's one of my goals. Apparently it's where anglers go after the "holy grail" species - the tarpon. Tarpon is a 50-million-year-old species that can live to 80 years old and can grow to 300 pounds. Author Monte Burke tells the story of his world-record pursuit, and alongside it chronicles the destruction of the fishery. This paints an entire picture of contemporary tarpon fishing that you won't want to miss.
Fly-Fishing Advice from an Old-Timer
With decades of fly-fishing experience, Ed Quigley is the perfect candidate to provide fly-fishing know-how to prospective flyfishers. Quigley includes down-to-earth explanations of the basics, detailed discussions of advanced topics, and ingenious tips and compelling anecdotes from his own years of experience fly fishing streams from Labrador to Costa Rica and beyond. He's also got lists of where to find more information on each topic, which is very helpful for newbies.