top of page

Best Fly Fishing Books

Fly fishing the Pere Marquette in Michigan

Fly fisherman are blessed in the fact that they have so many good books to choose from. Few recreational activities are as well recorded as the pursuit of taking trout on an artificial fly. Some books are simple "How to" books, while others explain the incredible draw of fly fishing, and why it is so special to those who enjoy it. Both types of books have their merit, and we will recommend books of both types.


1.Trout-Ray Bergman

This book is an antique. It was written when silk fly lines were the rule rather than the exception, and when bamboo was the fly rod material that everyone used. On the surface, the book (which was last updated by Bergman in the 1950s) may seem outdated an obsolete, little more than a work to study how fly fishing used to be done. But it is much more than that. Bergman writes extensively about the techniques that he used in difficult situations to catch trout, and most of them are still extremely useful today. He explains everything from how to properly manipulate a wet-fly in still water to the difficulties of midge fishing. While his tackle would be considered outdated today, his fishing methods are still useful, and a lot can be learned from this classic fly fishing work. Towards the beginning of the book Bergman says, "Fishing seemed to be the one sport that best gratified my innate craving for an intimacy with those forces of which I knew so little." How can we argue with that?

2. L.L. Bean Fly Fishing Handbook-Dave Whitlock

Fly fishing's most famous practicioner, Dave Whitlock, wrote this excellent work for those who are just beginning their journey with fly fishing. He leads the beginning fly fisher by the hand, explaining everything from how to put backing and line on a fly reel on up to the taking of selective trout. Dave Whitlock explains everything in a manner that is easy to understand by the beginner, but still manages not to talk down to them. While there are many books out there for those who are just learning to fly fish, this is the one I would recommend.

3. The Longest Silence- Thomas McGuane

Tom McGuane is a master of the art of explaining our passion for fly fishing. He relates his stories of fly fishing for myriad species across the world, from rainbow and brook trout in his home stream to bonefish and permit off the coast of Florida. He explains how fly fishing is a bittersweet way of looking at the world. He explains the wonders of the natural world while noting that fishing can give us direct look in the face of mortality. The book is sad while still being humorous, and is a must for any fly fisherman.

4. Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders-John Gierach

John Gierach's story are plain spoken while still being profound. In this book, you'll find lighthearted passages like "Expertizing" which explains the dangers of becoming too cocky as a fisherman. But it is also serious in other areas. In the story "Even Brook Trout Get the Blues" he likens the fate of brook trout in a silted in beaver pond to the mortality of humans, in a way that only Gierach could. He is the least pretentious of the fly fishing writers, and is able to make eloquent points without putting the average reader off. When he tells a fishing story, he makes you feel like you are on the stream, fishing beside him.

5.The Orvis Guide to Reading Trout Streams-Tom Rosenbauer

Tom Rosenbauer explains the dynamics in play on trout streams, and how that effects the fisherman. Rosenbauer explains how current speed, obstruction, depth, and water temperature effect trout. Quite simply, if you don't know where to look for trout, you won't catch many, so this book is an absolute must for those who don't have a lot of experience stream fishing for trout.


The literature that surrounds the sport of fly fishing is one of it's most enjoyable aspects. Whenever the situation is such that you can't actually be fishing. You can choose one that will educate you for later experience, or one that will keep you entertained. Whichever you choose, all five of these books are must reads for fly fisherman.

bottom of page