Book review by one of the owners of globalflyfisher.com
Reviewed by Bob Petti, www.globalflyfisher.com
You know – the internet is a wonderful thing. (As if you don’t know that already). Several years ago I learned of Czech nymphs from an article by Oliver Edwards, so I started tying up a few and posted a tying procedure here on the site. Wouldn’t you know that someone in the Czech Republic saw it and wanted to use it in one of his newsletters! Pavel and I exchanged a few notes, and he swapped an article for GFF for my tying procedure. Soon after, he sent over a wonderful book to review, and now I have another. The world has gotten to be a very small place.
So here we are with “Fly Fishing and Fly Tying II”, by Jaromír Karafiát and Miroslav Machácek. The authors, along with several listed co-authors, are highly accomplished anglers and tyers as is evidenced by the short biographies of each in the front of the book. Most have participated – and excelled – in international fly fishing matches. Anyone who has read up on Czech nymphs and nymph fishing realizes that many of the techniques and developments in this area are a result of match fishing. The constraints of the championship rules has caused new fly patterns and fishing techniques to evolve that we all can use on our home streams.
I should say at this point that sometimes the phrasing of the text might read a little peculiar to English language readers, as it was originally written in Czech and translated to English. The choice of words is different – and certainly the references to materials and tackle uses local terms (polycelon, for example), which we have to translate ourselves into our own local terms, but that does not detract from the content. I actually enjoy how it is written and don’t mind getting extra practice converting meters to feet. The world is getting smaller, as we’ve noted above, but the Czech Replublic is still a heck of a long ways away from the Catskills.
The book opens up with an excellent overview of fishing techniques – especially the nymphing techniques for which the Czech fisherman are so noted. Not only do they explain in depth the classic Czech nymph techniques, they also delve into other styles of nymphing, such as the long leader based French techniques suited to shallow clear water situations. It would be a mistake to skip over these sections and jump to the fly tying information. These guys win matches by catching fish - thus they have developed techniques that are useful in a broad spectrum of circumstances. If our goal is to catch more fish (and – let’s be honest – isn’t it?), we should study these techniques carefully. There is much to be learned.
Far and away the largest portion of the book is devoted to fly tying – and this mostly to a large and extensive pattern dictionary of different flies. The chapters are organized according to fly type – beadheads, Czech nymphs, sedges, etc. – and contain dozens of fly recipes with color photos of each fly. The chapters open with a step-by-step procedure for tying a typical fly from the chapter, which is followed by a dictionary of patterns based on the common theme. Each pattern has a bit of supporting text which helps us understand how these flies are intended to be used. For example – the Olive BH : “We use this fly for fishing of Grayling mainly in not very clean waters”. There are some very interesting and unique patterns here – jig heads, lots of CDC dry flies, etc. For those who are sick of seeing the same old flies – you’ll enjoy this part.
The reader may struggle a bit with the pattern listings, as many of the materials sound unfamiliar – “Twist VNT 101” for the tying thread of a Pheasant Tail BH for example – but there are a couple ways around this. First, you can buy the right stuff. At the back of the book is a catalog of tying materials from Hends Products. If you want to make sure you have the real Body Quills used in the Pink Quill, it’s probably best to order the stuff from the source. Otherwise, fly tyers are an inventive lot and I’m sure readers will figure out suitable substitutes.
In the back of the book is a pleasant surprise – a full length DVD!! What a bonus! You can read all you want about Czech nymphing, but seeing it in action is so helpful. The underwater shots are incredible. The tying sequences deftly illustrate the techniques and flies shown in the book – and especially how some of those new materials (such as body quill) are used. A lot has been made recently of split thread techniques, and right out of the shoot in the first chapter you get to see CDC barbs wound between strands of thread and twisted to form a loose hackle for a beadhead nymph. You should see how Jaromír applies hare’s ear dubbing. I really enjoyed this DVD.
Many people complain that there is nothing new to say about fly fishing – that new books are just updates to old ideas. That may be true if you read only about fishing in your area. The world is a big place. Take the time to learn how they fish for trout elsewhere. I'm sure you will learn something new.