Bibliography of fly fishing

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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[edit]

Western Libraries holds an extensive collection of printed materials on the history and literature of fly fishing. Numbering more than 2,500 titles and dating back to the origin of the genre in seventeenth-century England, the materials support the study of not only the development of this sport, but also its relationship to nature writing, art, ecology, conservation, and even the history of printing and publishing. The collection includes books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs, artworks, oral histories, and fly fishing artifacts.[2]

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 ....[3]

... 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)[4]

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 2200 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.

    • Contains the following notable collections:
      • Strung, Norman (Literary manuscripts and correspondence, 1966–1982)
      • Pellicane, Alfred T. (Papers, 1962–2000)
      • Mitchell, Harry B. (Papers, 1953–1965)
      • Agassiz, Louis (Letters, 1854–1858)
      • Salmon Poisoning Research Collection (Papers, 1923–1999)
      • Nick Lyons Ephemera Collection (Corporate records and personal papers, 1932–2005)
      • Behnke, Robert J. (Papers, 1957–2000)
  • Angling Oral History Collection

15th-century texts[edit]

  • Berners, Dame Juliana (1496). A Treatise of Fysshynge with An Angle (PDF). London: Wynkyn De Worde.

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[5]

17th-century texts[edit]

  • Dennys, John (1652). The Secrets of Angling. London: John Harrison. The Secrets of Angling contains the first known illustration of an artificial fly.[6] Denny's book was reprinted extensively in the 19th century.
  • Walton, Izaak (1653). The Compleat Angler. London. Izaak Walton did not profess to be an expert with the fly; the fly fishing in his first edition was contributed by Thomas Barker, a retired cook and humorist, who produced a treatise of his own in 1659. In the last edition a second part was added by his friend Charles Cotton, who took up Venator where Walton had left him and completed his instruction in fly fishing and the making of flies.
  • Venables, Colonel Robert (1662). The Experienced Angler or Angling Improved. London: Richard Marriott. Extensively cited in Herd's The Fly, Venables work provides great insight into the fly tackle and techniques being used in the 17th century[7]

18th-century texts[edit]

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[9]

19th-century texts[edit]

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.[13]

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.[16]

Fly-fishing history, bibliographies and literature reviews[edit]

19th century[edit]

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.[21]

20th century[edit]

  • Hills, John Waller (1921). A History of Fly Fishing for Trout (PDF). London: Phillp Allan & Co. Dr. Andrew Herd credits Hill with the first attempt to codify the history of fly fishing, albeit Hill's work shows a distinctly British bias and disregard for other European influences. See also A History of Fly Fishing for Trout[7]
  • Radcliffe, William (1921). Fishing From the Earliest Times (PDF). London: John Murray.
  • Goodspeed, Charles E. (1939). Angling in America – Its Early History and Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Robb, James (1945). Notable Angling Literature. London: Herbert Jenkins Limited.
  • 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. contains a Chronological Appendix Indicating Landmarks in the Evolution of Angling Literature and Some Prefatory Matters Pertaining to the History of The Harry Hawthorn Foundation for the Inculcation and Propagation of the Principles and Ethics of Fly-Fishing. Contains illustrations.[22]
  • McDonald, John (1972). Quill Gordon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0394469895.
  • Gingrich, Arnold (1973). The Joys of Trout. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0517505843. listed as one of the modern "classics" of angling in the University of New Hampshire Library Milne Angling Collection[23]
  • Gingrich, Arnold (1974). The Fishing In Print – A Guided Tour Through Five Centuries of Angling Literature. New York: Winchester Press. Gingrich, the well known founding editor of Esquire magazine surveys the major pieces of classic and modern fly fishing literature up through the 1950s. It is an excellent read to get a better understanding of the evolution of the various styles of fly fishing—wet, nymphs, dry, etc. as originally written about by the likes of Halford, Skues, Gordon and Jennings along with many others.

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.[24]
  • Waterman, Charles F. (1981). A History of Angling. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Winchester Press. ISBN 0876913435.
  • Sheets, K. A. (1993). American Fishing Books – A Guide to Values. Ann Arbor, MI: Anglers and Scholars. an alphabetical, by author, list of over 2000 titles of American published fishing books with values for collectable copies estimated by the author.
  • Schullery, Paul (1996). American Fly Fishing – A History. Norwalk, CT: The Easton Press. sponsored by the American Museum of Fly Fishing, Manchester, CT, when Paul Schullery was the managing director, Fly Fishing – A History is probably the most contemporary and complete treatise on the evolution of fly fishing as it is known today.[25][26]
  • Schwiebert, Ernest (1998). The Henryville Flyfishers – A Chronicle of American Fly Fishing. Far Hills, N.J.: Meadow Run Press. ISBN 1886967083. a notable account by Ernest Schwiebert and one of the seminal books on American Fly Fishing clubs.[27]
  • Schullery, Paul (1999). Royal Coachman – The Lore and Legends of Fly-Fishing. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0684842467. while giving due respect to the elders of Fly-Fishing history, Schullery celebrates some lesser-known fisherman and some seldom-appreciated waters, such as the limestone streams of Pennsylvania. He muses on the pursuit of the ever-more perfectly "natural" fly and contrasts that quest with the storied success of the Royal Coachman, perhaps the gaudiest fly ever invented.[28]
  • Bark, Conrad Vos (1996). The Dry Fly – Progress Since Halford. Ludlow, UK: Merlin Unwin Books. ISBN 1873674228.

21st century[edit]

  • Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. ISBN 1899600191.
  • Nemes, Sylvester (2004). Two centuries of soft-hackled flies – A survey of literature complete with original patterns. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0811700488.
  • Schullery, Paul (2008). If Fish Could Scream – An Angler's Search For The Future of Fly Fishing. Mechanicburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0811704359.

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.[29]
  • Greenhalgh, Malcolm; Jason Smalley (2009). Fishing Flies: A World Encyclopedia of Every Type of Fly. London: Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 978-0007288458.
  • Black, William C. (2010). Gentlemen Preferred Dry Flies – The Dry Fly and The Nymph, Evolution and Conflict. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0826347954.
  • Whitelaw, Ian (2015). The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies. New York: Stewart, Tabori and Chang. ISBN 978-1617691461.


  • Day, Frank Parker (1927). The Autobiography of a Fisherman. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page and Company. in 1927, celebrated Canadian author Frank Parker Day wrote his autobiographical reflections on fishing, family, and, more broadly, humanity's place in the natural world. The Autobiography of a Fisherman, a Canadian fly-fishing classic, is a wonderful recollection of one man's life, with characters struggling in a depressed economy, contending with the social pressures of local village life, and responding in one way or the other to the pull of the big city. Day details his early introduction to fishing, which becomes a lifelong passion, at once a 'gentle art' and a 'disease'.[30]
  • Benn, Ernest (1977). G. E. M. Skues – The Way of a Man with a Trout. London: Ernest Benn. ISBN 0510225063.
  • Sampson, Jack (1995). Lee Wulff. Portland, Oregon: Frank Amato. ISBN 1571880194.
  • Robson, Kenneth (1998). The Essential G. E. M. Skues. London: A & C Black. ISBN 155821691X.
  • Hilyard, Graydon; Hilyard, Leslie (2000). Carrie G. Stevens, Maker of the Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0811703533.
  • Hayter, Tony (2002). F.M. Halford and the Dry-Fly Revolution. London: Rober Hale. ISBN 0709067739. the first definitive biography of the father of dry fly fishing, Frederic M. Halford.[31]
  • Berryman, Jack W. (2006). Fly-Fishing Pioneers and Legends of the Northwest. Seattle, WA: Northwest Fly Fishing LLC. ISBN 978-0977945405.
  • Kreh, Lefty (2008). My Life Was This Big: And Other True Fishing Tales. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1602393592. – autobiography of Lefty Kreh
  • Lawton, Terry (2010). Marryat – Prince of Fly Fishers. Ellesmere, Shropshire, UK: Medlar Press. ISBN 978-1899600489.
  • Herd, Andrew (2010). Angling Giants – Anglers Who Made History. Ellesmere, Shropshire, UK: Medlar Press. ISBN 978-1899600601.
  • Freer, Adrian V W (2019). Dr Bell of Wrington: Pioneer of Reservoir Fly Fishing. Leicester, UK: Welford Court Press. ISBN 978-1798530146.

General fly fishing[edit]

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[33]
  • Latham, Roger; Bashline, James; Chandler, Leon; DuBois, Donald; Elliot, Bob; Green, Larry; Harvey, George; McNally, Tom; Sosin, Mark; Waterman, Charles (1972). There's No Fishing Like Fly Rod Fishing – The Cortland Series. New York: Richard Rosen's Press Inc. ISBN 082390248X. a compendium of articles by top fly fishing experts on the various aspects of freshwater, warmwater and saltwater fly fishing and tackle. Sponsored by the Cortland Line Company.
  • Hidy, V. S. Pete (1972). The Pleasures of Fly Fishing. New York: Winchester Press. ISBN 0876910398. a beautiful compilation of vignettes on fly fishing accompanied by excellent photography of fly fishing experiences.[34]
  • Migel, Michael J., ed. (1977). The Masters on the Dry Fly. New York: J.B. Lippincott. ISBN 0397011881.
  • Kreh, Lefty (1991–1996). Lefty's Little Library of Fly Fishing. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions. this is a twenty-five volume set published by Kreh and other authors covers almost every aspect of the sport of fly fishing. Contains the following titles:
  • Goddard, John (1993). Fly Fishing For Trout – Volume 2 – Understanding Trout Behavior. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions.
  • Tullis, Larry (1993). Fly Fishing For Trout – Volume 3 – Small Fly Techniques. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions.
  • Whitlock, Dave (1994). Fly Fishing For Trout – Volume 4 – Imitating and Fishing Natural Fish Foods. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions.
  • Teeny, Jim (1994). The Teeny Technique For Steelhead & Salmon. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions.
  • Richards, Bruce (1994). Modern Fly Lines. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions.
  • Hughes, Dave (1995). Fly Fishing For Trout – Volume 5 – Fishing The Four Seasons. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions.
  • Tullis, Larry (1995). Fly Fishing For Trout – Volume 6 – Nymphing Strategies. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions.
  • Bitton, Dennis (1995). A Field Guide To Fly Fishing. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions.
  • Law, Glenn (1995). A Concise History of Fly Fishing. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions.
  • Merwin, John (2001). Streamer Fly Fishing – A Practical Guide to the Best Patterns and Methods of Fishing the Streamer in Rivers, Lakes and *Salt Water. New York: Lyons Press. ISBN 1585740411.


  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 10 October 2018.
  3. ^ Merritt, J. I. (Summer 1980). "The Kienbusch Collection". The American Fly Fisher. 7 (3): 3.
  4. ^ Kinsey, Darin S. (Fall 2007). "An Angler's Literary Paradise" (PDF). The American Fly Fisher. Manchester, Vermont: The American Museum of Fly Fishing. 33 (4): 16–17. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
  5. ^ Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. p. 43. ISBN 1899600191.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b c d Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. ISBN 1899600191.
  8. ^ Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. p. 204. ISBN 1899600191.
  9. ^ Robb, James (1945). Notable Angling Literature. London: Herbert Jenkins Limited. p. 94.
  10. ^ Herd, Andrew Dr (2001). The Fly. Ellesmere, Shropshire: Medlar Press. p. 88. ISBN 1899600191.
  11. ^ Schullery, Paul (1996). American Fly Fishing – A History. Norwalk, Conn.: The Easton Press. p. 85.
  12. ^ Schullery, Paul (2006). Reading The Rise – Streamside Observations on Trout, Flies and Fly Fishing. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. p. 37.
  13. ^ a b 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 0811700488.
  14. ^ Schullery, Paul (1999). Royal Coachman – The Lore and Legends of Fly-Fishing. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 175–176. ISBN 0684842467.
  15. ^ The Reed Draper Collection of Angling Books, Clark Historical Library, Central Michigan University, [1]
  16. ^ Schullery, Paul (Fall 1980). "Editor's Note to Fly Fishing Alone by Thaddeus Norris". The American Fly Fisher. 7 (4): 2.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "Schullery, Paul, Reading The Rise". Archived from the original on 2008-01-17. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  19. ^ "The Flyfishers Classic Library". Archived from the original on 2007-12-25. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ "The Harry Hawthorn Foundation Collection | The Harry Hawthorn Collection".
  23. ^ University of New Hampshire Library, Milne Angling Collection Selected Highlights, "Selected Highlights from the Milne Angling Collection". Archived from the original on 2007-04-21. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  24. ^ Law, Glenn (1995). A Concise History of Fly Fishing. Birmingham, Alabama: Odysseus Editions. p. 162.
  25. ^ Schreiber, Le Anne, In Short: Nonfiction; Giants of the Rod and Reel, The New York Times Books Review, November 15, 1987
  26. ^ Bryant, Nelson, Oitdoors: Books on Fly-Fishing Bring History and Tips, The New York Times Book Review, [2]
  27. ^ "Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Association". Archived from the original on May 1, 2006.
  28. ^ "McAlister, Jamie, The Non-Fiction Bookpage". Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  29. ^ Fireside Angler
  30. ^ Day, Frank Parker (January 1, 2005). "The Autobiography of a Fisherman". University of Toronto Press – via Google Books.
  31. ^ Lawton, Terry. "Fish and Fly Book Review".
  32. ^ Johnson, George (October 4, 1987). "New & Noteworthy: Home Ground, by Lynn Freed". The New York Times. Book Review.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  33. ^ Gingrich, Arnold (1973). The Joys of Trout. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. pp. 140–42. ISBN 0517505843.
  34. ^ Serviente, Barry (1996). Angler's Art Catalog. Plainfield, Pennsylvania: The Anglers Art. p. 91.