The 25 Best Fly Fishing Books of ALL TIME

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Updated on:

The 25 Best Fly Fishing Books of ALL TIME

Tackle Village is reader supported. If you buy a product through links on the site we may make a small commission

Updated on:

We can’t always be fly fishing. No matter how hard we try. Luckily, there is always a great book about our shared pursuit in those times. The first mention of fly fishing came from the Roman Claudius Aelianus in the 2nd Century. Since then, countless writers have helped chart fly fishing, archived the time-honored techniques, and shared unique perspectives shaping the sport and its culture. The best fly fishing books are personal and debatable. We share our favorites with pride and confidence that there are even more to pass the time until our next time on the water.

Best Beginners/Introductory Fly Fishing Books

The Orvis Guide to Beginning Fly Fishing: 101 Tips for the Absolute Beginner

The Orvis Guide to Beginning Fly Fishing: 101 Tips for the Absolute Beginner

The Orvis Guide to Beginning Fly Fishing: 101 Tips for the Absolute Beginner
Our Score

Every prospective angler needs a place to start, and if you’re trying to get started in fly fishing, you can trust Orvis to get you outfitted. This Orvis fly fishing guide series covers everything in Fly Fishing. The 101 tips for the absolute beginner are meant to give neophiles all the background information they need to start their fly fishing journey.

  • Publication date: 2009
  • The Orvis Company and Tom Rosenbauer
  • 208 pages

Pocket Guide to Fly Fishing Book

Pocket Guide to Fly Fishing Book

Pocket Guide to Fly Fishing Book
Our Score

Growing up, I kept this spiral-bound, plastic paged guide on my bed stand. At night I would review the basic yet invaluable fly fishing knowledge within. I memorized knots and traced the life cycle of insects. This pocket-sized guide provided an incredible knowledge foundation that served me considerably decades later as a fly fishing enthusiast.

  • Publication date: 1992
  • Ron Cordes and Gary LaFontaine

Little Red Book of Fly Fishing

Little Red Book of Fly Fishing

Little Red Book of Fly Fishing
Our Score

Famed fly fishing writers Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyers share their wisdom in the Little Red Book of Fly Fishing. Deeter is a longtime contributor to Field & Stream. Meyers is most known for the stretch of the South Platte he helped highlight, known as the Dream Stream. Together, they highlight the sport of fly fishing with intuitive instruction and counterintuitive fly fishing advice. 

  • Publication date: 210
  • Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyers
  • 224 pages

Best Books on Fly Casting

Joan Wulff's New Fly Casting Techniques

Joan Wulff's New Fly Casting Techniques

Joan Wulff's New Fly Casting Techniques
Our Score

Fly Fishing luminary and National Casting Champion Joan Wulff’s New Fly Casting Techniques is the follow-up to her seminal casting book by the same name. The book includes many techniques Wulff has perfected over her time in fly fishing. In addition to many books on casting, the Wulff School of Fly Fishing has taught countless anglers the skills needed to excel in fly casting.

  • Publication date_ 2016
  • Joan Wulff
  • 224 pages

Fly-Casting Fundamentals: Distance, Accuracy, Roll Casts, Hauling, Sinking Lines, and More

Fly-Casting Fundamentals: Distance, Accuracy, Roll Casts, Hauling, Sinking Lines, and More

Fly-Casting Fundamentals: Distance, Accuracy, Roll Casts, Hauling, Sinking Lines, and More
Our Score

Few names Fly fishing are as known and respected as Left Kreh. In his book, Fly-Casting Fundamentals: Distance, Accuracy, Roll Casts, Hauling, Sinking Lines and More, Kreh describes useful casts a fly fisher can add to their repertoire. Anyone who needs the tactical fly fishing skills to cast under the overhanging branches with a bow-and-arrow cast can thank Lefty. 

  • Publication date: 211
  • Lefty Kreh
  • 144 pages

Master the Cast: Fly Casting in Seven Lessons

Master the Cast: Fly Casting in Seven Lessons

Master the Cast: Fly Casting in Seven Lessons
Our Score

I love reading, but I’d instead pick up a rod when looking to hone my skills. I think most would agree casting lends itself to doing rather than reading theory. I like that George V. Roberts Jr’s Master the Cast explicitly says there are seven lessons. Not only can I get behind only seven lessons to make me a better caster, but since they read like lessons, I can break up what I learn by picking up the rod between chapters.

  • Publication date: 2005
  • George V. Roberts Jr
  • 160 pages

Best Books on Techniques and Tactics (Intermediate and beyond)

The Orvis Guide To Small Stream Fly Fishing

The Orvis Guide To Small Stream Fly Fishing

The Orvis Guide To Small Stream Fly Fishing
Our Score

Sometimes the best gifts come in small packages – or this case, small streams. Orvis’s guide to small stream fly fishing dissects the critical things to remember when fishing smaller waterways. The most important thing about small streams is that skinny water can hold chunky trout. Please don’t sleep on small stream fishing; Orvis shows you how to make the most of them. 

  • Publication date: 2011
  • Tom Rosenbauer
  • 208 pages

Beyond Trout: A Flyfishing Guide with Foreword by John Gierach

Beyond Trout: A Flyfishing Guide with Foreword by John Gierach

Beyond Trout: A Flyfishing Guide with Foreword by John Gierach
Our Score

Fly anglers aren’t just trout-crazed; they can also be pike, bass, or carp-crazed. In Beyond Trout, authors Barry Reynolds and John Berryman teach you how to go after other freshwater species on a fly. By doing so, the reader is overtaken with Pike-on-the-Fly fever, daydreams about smallmouth bass rising for dries, and gains a reverence for those with the patience and resolve to pursue the guilty pleasures of carp. Reynolds and Berryman describe fly fishing for eight warmwater fish species thoroughly and with enough passion for helping you get out of your trout rut.

  • Publication Date: 1995
  • Barry Reynolds and John Berryman
  • 148 pages

Tying Streamers

Tying Streamers

Tying Streamers
Our Score

Famed fly tier Charlie Craven has many signature flies that have proven effective worldwide. No wonder his book dedicated to fly tying streamers has become a must for tyers and meat huckers alike. If you crave the violent strikes from wild fish on baits like Craven’s Swim Coach or love the focus and artistic release of tying beautiful flies. In that case, Cravens’ Tying Streamers is a must-have.

  • Publication date: 2020
  • Charlie Craven
  • 280 pages

Best Trout Fly Fishing Books

The Hunt For Giant Trout

The Hunt For Giant Trout

The Hunt For Giant Trout
Our Score

We all fantasize about what beasts lurk deep within the undercut banks of trophy trout rivers. Our minds run wild with hook-jawed browns that leave their lair at night. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to coax these trophies out, let alone find where they might be?! Landon Mayer will show you the way. The author and tier of some of today’s most productive fly patterns have made a career of finding big trout. In his book, The Hunt for Giant Trout, the Mayer’s Mini Leech creator shows you where and how to crack the code to find and catch the fish of a lifetime with consistency. 

  • Publication date: 2018
  • Landon Mayer
  • 224 pages

Trout

Trout

Trout
Our Score

They are the species most synonymous with fly fishing. Trout represent energy and challenge to all who pursue them. In his book, Trout, Ray Bergman provides comprehensive coverage of trout, along with techniques and tips on fly fishing for them. A classic book, a fun read, and great coffee table gift book for any trout bum.

  • Publication date: 2000
  • Ray Bergman
  • 576 pages

Selective Trout

Selective Trout

Selective Trout
Our Score

Anyone who has spent time on the water knows the frustration of watching trout feed on seemingly everything floating their way – anything but your fly, anyways. Trout can be picky, and Selective Trout is a deep dive on entomology involved in trout behavior. Swisher and Richards look at why trout become very difficult to catch when they prey on just one food source. The secrets to getting selective trout to strike are buried in this book. 

  • Publication date: 2018
  • Doug Swisher and Carl Richards
  • 537 pages

Best Saltwater Fly Fishing Books

Saltwater Fly Fishing

Saltwater Fly Fishing

Saltwater Fly Fishing
Our Score

Saltwater represents to fly fishers an experience that is hard to match in freshwater. The sheer variety is enough for an angler to cast into salt marshes, mangroves, and even the ocean’s deep blue. Author Joe Brooks introduces anglers to the intense physical and mental challenges that accompany saltwater fly fishing and the possible rewards for those who leap.

  • Publication date: 2000
  • Joe Brooks
  • 234 pages

Blues

Blues

Blues
Our Score

Consider this the modern saltwater take on The Compleat Angler. From the Pultizer winner author, John Hersey, Blues is a must-read for any fisherman; salt or fresh, fly or conventional. As much a philosophical dissertation as it is instructional, Blues deserves a spot on your shelf and our list.

  • Publication date: 1988
  • John Hersey
  • 224 pages

Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon

Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon

Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon
Our Score

Obsession seems to be a common thread in fly fishing literature. The theme recurs in many of our top books. Those who spend countless hours, exponential dollars, and neglected relationships searching for tarpon can appreciate the connection. This book is for you for all who have questioned their priorities sneaking off to fish.

  • Publication date: 2020
  • Monte Burke
  • 304 pages

Best Fiction Books on Fly Fishing

The River Why

The River Why

The River Why
Our Score

Fly fishing has a way of offering those who practice it self-discovery. The River Why is one of those stories. A hardcore fly fisher sets out for a lifetime of fly fishing only to discover far more. The River Why is one of those fly fishing novels that anyone could enjoy, but is particularly captivating to anglers.

  • 1983
  • David James Duncan
  • 294 pages (1st edition hardback)

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
Our Score

For most people, mention fly fishing, and you’ll hear mention of A River Runs Through It. Recognized as an American literary classic, A River Runs Through paints the idyllic picture of fly fishing that has hooked new anglers for decades. A must-read.

  • Publication date: 2017
  • Norman Maclean
  • 262 pages

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
Our Score

The only thing crazier than the story of The Feather Thief is that the book is not fiction at all! The Feather Thief is a true story of obsession that can creep into almost anything – in this case, vintage salmon fly patterns. The story chronicles the actual British Natural History Museum heist that focused not on gold or other riches but on the rare bird skins and feathers of extinct birds to tie classic salmon flies. The book focuses more on the effects of such callous and selfish acts on conservation. Still, it is a worthy read for any fly fisher, if only to remind us that despite our protest, there are other things more important than fly fishing.

  • Publication date: 218
  • Kirk Wallace Johnson
  • 318 pages

Best Prose Writing On Fly Fishing (philosophical, whimsical, moving or funny)

The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing

The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing

The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing
Our Score

Let me be clear. This isn’t just one of the best fly fishing books; it is a modern classic of short stories I’ve read. Period. McGuane’s writing style is vivid, personal, and witty. The Longest Silence is a compilation of fly fishing adventures worldwide and on his home turf in Montana. At the same time, the trout entries are thoughtful and expanded my understanding of the fly fishing culture. McGuane’s suffering in pursuit of permit and tarpon can be singularly credited with getting me out of the Rockies and into a skiff. Buy it. Read it. Be forever changed by The Longest Silence.

  • 1999 (1st edition), 2019 (2nd edition)
  • Thomas McGuane
  • 356 pages

The Optimist: A Case for the Fly Fishing Life

The Optimist: A Case for the Fly Fishing Life

The Optimist: A Case for the Fly Fishing Life
Our Score

Those who discover that fly fishing is more than about fish will appreciate The Optimist. An incredibly well-written account of the place and traditions of fly fishing, The Optimist is perfect for fly fishers of any type and level. It’s a fun read – and at times, downright funny. For those anglers that balance their obsession with optimism, this is the read for you.

  • May 4, 2021
  • David Coggins
  • 256 pages

Trout Bum

Trout Bum

Trout Bum
Our Score

Trout Bum should be a prerequisite to fish. John Gierach’s masterpiece encapsulates everything we love about fly fishing for trout. John Gierach showcases the unique environment that the Rocky Mountains provide for trout to live and anglers to fish. Most of all, it offers everyone a blueprint for selling all your stuff, buying a van to live in, and driving through the Rockies as a trout bum. Not really, but close.

  • Publication date: 1988
  • John Gierach
  • 224 pages

Best Historical Books on Fly Fishing

The Compleat Angler

The Compleat Angler

The Compleat Angler
Our Score

Who introduced you to fly fishing? You never forget the people who took the time to show you what it’s all about, to teach you the basics, and help mold your understanding of the sport. The Compleat Angler is a story of finding new fly fishing buddies that have become one of the oldest and most-read English language books of all time. 

  • 1653
  • Izaak Walton
  • 148

American Fly Fishing: A History

American Fly Fishing: A History

American Fly Fishing: A History
Our Score

Fly fishing history in the United States is rich but often misunderstood. Today, fly fishing represents billions in sales, and millions of anglers participate annually. Take a look at the history of fly fishing in America and learn something you didn’t about the sport you love.

  • Publication date: 1987
  • Paul Schullery
  • 288 pages

The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies

The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies

The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies
Our Score

Chart the history of fly fishing through its most iconic flies. Ian Whitelaw highlights fifty flies, along with the rods, reels, lines, and other tools and fly fishing techniques we know today. 

  • April 7, 2015
  • Ian Whitelaw
  • 224

While short-form blogs and YouTube videos may be easy to get our fly fishing fix, there is nothing quite like a fly fishing guide book or novel by a talented author. There is always something new to learn about fly fishing or a novel way to think about fly fishing. For these reasons, there will always be a list of the best fly fishing books to enjoy in our free time.

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