Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple II

Fly Tying Clear and Simple II

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When I started tying flies I didn’t know what I was getting into. After watching some fishing videos that included segments on tying, I decided to take the plunge. I picked up some supplies and a $10.00 vice at the White Elephant, a local discount hunting, fishing and toy store. I also got a copy of Skip Morris’ original book, Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple.

Volumes I & II

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Then I went home and worked my way through the book, starting at page one – ending on page 80. I tied all 15 of the patterns with excitement and wonder. They may have been the ugliest examples of the patterns, but they were mine. And they caught fish. I remember those nights with great fondness. During those weeks spent with Skip Morris, I learned more about fly tying than in any other time of my life.

So imagine my excitement when, as I cruised the library, I saw his new book, “Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple II.” I brought it right home and devoured it. There are 18 flies with full instructions in this volume. They cover Nymphs, Streamers, Emergers and Dry Flies. Additonal pattern recipes are listed in the back.

It follows the same logical, easy to follow format of the original. Start with a picture of the finished fly, a description of the history and use of the fly, the recipe in a shaded box, then step by step instructions of the details of tying the fly.


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After each step, if there are common problems at that stage, he pauses the instructions to review things that might cause confusion or mistakes. It is such a great idea to fix the problem right then, not after you have finished the fly. It really is just like having an instructor looking over your shoulder.

Problem Solving

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For people who like a curriculum, a clearly laid out path of instruction, these two books will start you on the road of fly tying. How far you go will depend on you and what your goals are. But if you work through these two books, I believe you would feel comfortable tackling any fly you want. You won’t be a master tyer, but the basic foundation will be laid by a master teacher.

Get the books. Work through them. Have a great time. Treasure your first few flies. Save some to look back upon to mark your progress. You will be amazed how quickly you improve.

Thrift Store Treasure

Theory and Technique of Freshwater Angling

When my wife drags me into a thrift store, I always cruise through the sewing/crafts section looking for tying materials, then wander over to the books to browse until she is ready to go. I find thrift stores and garage sales moderately depressing. Like anyone else, I enjoy finding a bargain. But walking past items that someone once treasured, perhaps cherished, now valued at 25 cents, that’s just sad. When I see a handcrafted item and think of the hours they put in sewing, sawing or sanding, now to find the creation tossed into a bin with other junk…well, you see what I mean.

In my town, I almost never find any books on fishing, but I still look. Last week I found a treasure. I glimpsed the dark green hardback cover with the word “angling” on the spine, so picked it up to see what it was about. To my surprise, here in the piles of castaways was a fine little treasure.

John A. Knight

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I had never heard of the title or author, but it was in mint condition. The copyright date was 1940. The few color plates showed fly patterns. On the inside front cover, there was the old Ex Libris bookplate that used to be so common among bibliophiles. That was enough to warrant $1.99 for the book. It found a new home in my modest collection of fly fishing books.

The Theory and Technique of Fresh Water Angling, by John Alden

Copyright Page

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Knight is a great read. The introductory chapter is worth the price of the book. His prose is elegant, but casual. I smiled at the quaint language of 70 years ago-when was the last time you called a friend your “chum”? And even more amazing is his zeal in promoting conservation and catch and release fishing. This was just four years after Lee Wulff wrote the famous phrase, “Game fish are too valuable to be caught only once.”


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Mr. Knight was most noted for his theories about fish feeding patterns relating to the sun and moon. He has several other books.

Oh, and by the way. I spent about four hours trying to find out about the previous owner of my new book. I Googled him, checked out genealogy sites and databases,  searched obituaries and even looked for birth records. My only clue is that his handwriting is that fine all-capital printing of an architect or draftsman. So I choose to envision him as a young professional man during the post-war 1940’s, cane rod in hand, prowling some of my favorite streams.

Modern Midges

Modern Midges

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I ususally fish freestone, cutthroat streams. I like dry flies and beautiful scenery with lots of solitude. But I have fished a few tailwaters and spring creeks. So I understand the need to fish tiny flies to discerning trout. Even after some experience and the usual magazine articles, I don’t feel that comfortable with fine tippet and sub-20 sized flies.

So when I came across a new book by midge masters, Rick Takahashi and Jerry Hubka, my eyebrows shot up and I grabbed it. It is called Modern Midges – Tying and Fishing the World’s Eost Effective Patterns . What a book! Physically it is impressive. 9 1/2″ by 10 1/2″, hard cover, and spiral bound to lie flat when tying. It weighs in over 3 pounds.

After only 6 pages of introduction, it jumps right into tying flies. Now that is my kind of book! The organization is logical and linear, following the life cycle of these little bugs.

  1. How to tie larva paterns. Then 20 pages of patterns
  2. How to tie pupa patterns. Then 83 pages of pupa patters.
  3. How to tie emerger patterns. Then 47 pages of emerger patterns.
  4. How to tie adult patterns. Then 18 pages of adult and cluster patterns.
Fly patterns in the book

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Now that you are saturated in all the patterns you could ever want, starting on page 238 is a series of short articles by some of the biggest names in the fly fishing world. They

Fly tying details

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share insights and tips on using those patterns you just learned to tie. Wow.

The patterns are laid out six to a page so the pictures are large, razor sharp and easy to read. Sprinkled throughout are pictures of flyboxes with rows of beautiful flies; large fish with tiny flies in their jaw; and fishy water to drool over. The book is a refrence for midge fishing, but the tips in the back apply to any stream or lake you might fish.

If you are like me and need help learning to fish midges, or if you want more patterns to

 arm yourself for battle, then this is the book for you. This is the kind of meaty reference book on which I’m happy to shell out my hard earned money. I know you will like it too.