Innovative Saltwater Flies
With "Innovative Saltwater Flies", Bob Veverka has followed the model of Judith Dunham, who wrote a pair of influential books on trout and salmon flies. Both authors were able to turn the text over to their contributors, allowing them to speak in the first person and tell their own fly tying story. The books follow a similar pattern - a short introductory section followed by a series of short (and sometimes not-so-short) chapters by the individual contributors. For this reader - that is a formula for success. After all, for the trout angler like myself, it's not so much the how-to information that I'm after in a book saltwater fly tying, but the behind-the-scenes stories from these fanatical fly tyers. To read how Jack Gartside got hooked on tying by watching his boyhood hero Ted Williams tie flies at a sports show in Boston strikes a chord with me whether he ends up talking about saltwater flies or trout flies. No matter what fish we chase - the reader and the authors share a bond of chasing them with little bits of fur and feathers we lashed to hooks in some cluttered corner of our houses.
Another attraction in the book is the wonderful photography of Michael Radencich, who has been gaining some notoriety of his own from his work with salmon fly tyers. The photos are stunning - crisp, clear, brightly colored, and perfectly complementary for each fly. The details of the flies are never lost in the photos, but rather the settings and backgrounds of each photo accentuate the qualities of the fly, making for a photograph that is as educational as it is beautiful. Seeing a book that has "color plates by Michael Radencich" on the cover is sure to draw my attention.
But wait! There's more! Sprinkled throughout the book are the most wonderful pencil or charcoal drawings from contributor Bill Elliott. Whether they are drawings of flies, fishing scenes, or still life settings of tackle bits, these drawings are just magnificent. I've bought books in the past before not for the text, but to drool over the illustrations by Dave Whitlock and others. Who can forget the wonderful drawings filling such volumes as "Masters on a Nymph" or "Masters on the Dry Fly" series. While "Innovative Saltwater Flies" is not an illustrated book as the old book sometimes are, these occasional bits of artistry are very much appreciated. Bill Elliott has a great talent.
In fact, the entire book is chock full of great talent. Whether the contributor is a well known "name" such as Dan Blanton or Brian O'Keefe, or a not-so-well-known name such as Scott Heywood, they all have an interesting story to tell, whether it be how they got started and what keeps them passionate about tying and fishing, or how they've designed their flies to solve a specific fishing problem.
Inevitably, the narrative in each chapter turns to the flies, and that's where the true value of the books comes to the fore. We get a rare glimpse into the minds of these creative individuals, and learn how they approach a fishing situation and develop either a single pattern or a whole series of fly patterns to help them. In some cases, as with Bill and Kate Howe's "ALF" flies, or Capt. Joe Blados "Crease" flies, the tying has evolved beyond individual patterns into popular styles of tying. Just as you can tell someone a pattern is tied "in the Catskill style", so can you say a saltwater fly is tied "Crease" style.
"Innovative Saltwater Flies" will not teach you how to tie flies. You won't learn how to do a whip finish, what vise to use, or how to select a bucktail. While there is plenty of instructional material in each chapter, the focus of the book is not to to teach the readers how to tie each fly shown in the book. The book is not a pattern reference, either, even though it has plenty of pattern recipes. Rather, it's a book about the tyers more so than the flies they tie. If you are interested in the people behind the flies, and want to know how they came up with their unique styles, or materials, or techniques, then you're going to enjoy this book.