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Best Fly Fishing Books

Last Updated: March 2024
Nancy Perry
Product Review by Nancy Perry

There’s nothing better than curling up with a great read because life’s simple pleasures are always the best!

Regardless of your experience, fly fishing will keep you entertained as well as inspire you to experiment with new fishing tactics, new waters and new fly ties. There will always be a new technique to master, a new fly pattern or knot to learn or angling destination to visit.

We’ve picked five of the best fly fishing books to help you build your technical skills and angling knowledge as well as some books for pleasure reading that will make you excited to be on the water and encourage you to immerse yourself in fly fishing!

We’ve picked the classics, legends, and manuals that all serious fly fishers should have on their bookshelves. We’ve picked fly fishing books from every category because fly fishing literature is a trove of wisdom. These books make the perfect gift for a friend or as a new addition to your personal library.

Our Reviews

The Bug Book: A Fly Fisher's Guide to Trout Stream Insects

The Bug Book: A Fly Fisher’s Guide to Trout Stream Insects is a fantastic introduction to the aquatic entomology for the trout angler. If you’re feeling confused about the insects that you’re seeing on the water, this is the perfect book for you.

Whether you’re an experienced or novice angler or if you simply want to increase your knowledge of aquatic insects and their imitations, you’ll get tons of useful and interesting information from The Bug Book.

The author, Paul Weamer features a plethora of unique beautiful bug photographs and the content is non-technical and focuses on the information that you need to become a stronger fly fisher.

Weamer successfully breaks down the barriers between beginner and entomologist in a conversational tone and explains when and why identifying insects is both practical and fun. The author starts with the limnology of rivers and waters and helps you to understand the characters of everything from spring creeks to reservoirs and ponds.

From sowbugs and scuds to aquatic worms and crane flies, you’ll quickly learn how to identify what you’re seeing on a stream and your best option for imitating it.


  • Includes essential patterns for matching hatches
  • Provides fishing techniques that work
  • Stunning images of common trout stream insects


  • Not enough information for professional anglers

Tactical Fly Fishing: Lessons Learned from Competition for All Anglers

In his book, Tactical Fly Fishing: Lessons Learned from Competition for All Anglers, Devin Olsen explains how the techniques he has used to become a repeat medalist in fly fishing competitions around the world are adaptable to everyday fly fishing scenarios.

Olsen covers tactics, strategies, flies for rivers, small streams, and still waters which will allow anyone to fish successfully by applying the approaches taken by competitive anglers.
Devin Olsen is a highly successful fly angler who has molded his skill on the water through endless hours of experimenting, victories, and failures. The best anglers are able to create an organized plan of attack that factors in variable water types, bug activity, pattern choice, positioning, and casting approach.

This is a very useful book with great insights afforded by the author’s long history of fly fishing. A feature of the book is the extensive set of photographs that are mixed with excellent drawings.

Tactical Fly Fishing: Lessons Learned from Competition for All Anglers provides an in-depth and updated perspective on fly fishing using the techniques that world competitive fly fishermen use. It not only covers the techniques perfected in world-class events but helps you understand how to approach the river, how to fish places you would normally walk by, and chapter by chapter guidelines on the various types of water.


  • An excellent choice for professional anglers
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Describes techniques used in fly fishing competitions
  • Provides an excellent insight into the ins and outs of fly fishing


  • Not available in paperback

Fly Tying For Beginners: How to Tie 50 Failsafe Flies

Fly Tying For Beginners: How to Tie 50 Failsafe Flies is a foolproof book that provides a complete guide to making 50 versatile flies for trout and salmon fishing.

Each featured fly includes close-up shots and an explanation of its component parts, from threads and yarns to beads, feathers and tinsels. The clear instructions allow the reader to master the core techniques quickly, and the detailed photographs take you them through every stage of the process, from dubbing the body to fixing the hook.

Fly Tying For Beginners: How to Tie 50 Failsafe Flies provides lessons on how to make sturdy dry flies, wet flies, streamers, hair wigs, nymphs, and bugs. Each entry describes where the fly should sit in the water and which fish is best used to catch.

The author, Peter Gathercole, is one of Britain’s leading fly dressers and he’s also a reputable photographer and writer of articles and books on game fishing.


  • Each of the patterns is rated for difficulty
  • Great illustrations and index of flies
  • Great for veterans or beginners
  • Excellent step-by-step information


  • The flies in this book require a wide variety of material which could prove expensive

The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing

The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing provides an absolute wealth of knowledge. This book, written by Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyers includes tips, nuances, cheats, and wisdom that is relatable to every fly fisherman.

It’s undeniable that after reading this book, you’ll feel like you could catch two or three times the number of fish than usual.

The book is organized into five sections covering casting, presentation, reading water and rigging flies. The fifth section is a general overview. Each chapter contains some of the book’s 250 tips that are written in a direct yet conversational style. Each tip is written by either Charlie or Kirk and provides a unique perspective and point of view on each subject.

If you’ve never been fly fishing before, you may struggle with The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing. You will need some context to understand the tips and tricks contained in the book. It’s important to get out on the water, make a few mistakes and learn some hard-knock lessons before you take tips from Deeter and Meyers.

However, this book is highly recommendable to anybody who’s on there way to becoming experienced fly angler.


  • Excellent for experienced anglers
  • Budget-friendly
  • Entertaining and insightful
  • Reliable


  • Not suitable for novice anglers

The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide

The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide has served as a classic book for anglers for the last three decades. This much-loved instructional book is a favorite amongst anglers who want to learn the ins and outs of fly fishing.

The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide was first published in 1984 and has sold more than 300,000 copies, helping many anglers improve their skills on the water. Now, decades later, the book has been revised to become a better resource than ever.

Fly fishing has changed a lot since the early ’80s. Everything from rod designs, strategies and the state of watersheds has undergone dramatic change. Many anglers prefer graphite rods, new fish species have emerged and anglers have a responsibility to step up and preserve resources and fish populations.

Fortunately, Rosenbauer fine-tuned the revised masterpiece to fit this sport that has undergone a lot of modern changes.

Now, we can enjoy new strategies, updated chapters and expanded tips for the modern era. Also, the revised edition offers anglers updated photos that give the angler a clearer i9dea of everything from flies to knots and how to identify different species.


  • Revised for the modern angler
  • Suitable for anglers of all skill levels
  • Excellent as a refresher resource
  • Great information on how to look after your waders


  • Information is too basic for professional anglers who're looking to improve

What Should Fly Fishing Books Include?

If you’re a fly fisherman, any romance novel, spy novel or any biography will have to work overtime to compare to the sheer thrill of the chase that fly fishing brings. To provide you with some clarity, we’ve put together some hints on what your new book should include.

Writing Style

It’s important that the author of your book has described their fly fishing tips in a conversational style, especially if you’re a beginner.

Beginner fly fishers will need to spend some time on the water to contextualize what they’re reading. If this applies to you, once you have a brief understanding of the different materials and environments and species, you’re ready to buy your book. Check the reviews and make sure that the content is beginner-friendly.


Research the books available and make sure that they have a recent published date or if it’s an old favorite like The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide, make sure that you buy the up-to-date revised edition.

Clear Instructions

The different strategies, tips, approaches, and overall guidance should be appropriate for your own skill level. The authors of the fly fishing books that we’ve chosen all provide clear and concise instructions that are easy-to-follow depending on your fly angling experience.

Your book should give you step-by-step instructions on how to tie fishing knows and the best saltwater fly fishing hooks and freshwater fishing hooks for your trip.


Having beautiful images in your fly fishing book is a perk! The imagery in the Fly Tying For Beginners: How to Tie 50 Failsafe Flies which were taken by the author, Peter Gathercole provides the book with a whole new dimension.

If you’re a new fly angler, clear and attractive images will help you understand the abundance of new tips and tricks that your new fly fishing book will undoubtedly teach you.

Best Fly Fishing Books for Beginners

Fly Fishing has become a popular recreation as an alternative to traditional forms of fishing. Unfortunately, the sport requires different casting techniques and a unique understanding of lures that could make a beginner feel out of their depth.

If you’re a novice, don’t worry! There are plenty of fly fishing books that are perfect for educations beginners on the basics and they can also provide experienced anglers who’re returning to the spot with a refresher on their knowledge.

Fly fishing is engaging, active and requires specialized knowledge of your equipment, chosen fish and their habitats.

Earlier, we reviewed Tactical Fly Fishing: Lessons Learned from Competition for All Anglers which we identified the book as being an excellent choice for beginners. The book contains and an up-to-date perspective on fly fishing and the author, Devin Olsen details the techniques he has used to become a repeat medalist in fly fishing competitions around the world. His techniques are great because they’re transferable to everyday fishing scenarios.

Fly Fishing Entomology Books

One of the best ways to increase your chances of catching fish is to understand the entomology of the water that you’re fishing on.

Don’t feel overwhelmed and mistakenly think that you must learn every bug and their Latin names on the water. The key is to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to identify the family of bug and the stage that the bug is in.

There are eight simple categories that you can memorize that will help you to identify insects on the river;

  • Midge Patterns
  • Mayfly Patterns
  • Caddis Patterns
  • Stonefly Patterns
  • Terrestrial Patterns
  • Scuds & Sowbags
  • Annelids (Worms)
  • Damselflies
  • Dragonflies
  • Water Boatman

We identified The Bug Book: A Fly Fisher’s Guide to Trout Stream Insects as a fantastic resource for understanding aquatic insects. Plus, the author, Paul Weamer, has included some beautiful bug photographs and focuses on the digestible information that you need to become a great fly fisher!


The fly fishing books that we’ve reviewed include some of the most useful pieces of information and resources that you need, alongside some of the most beautiful imagery, to help you understand why it’s the passion of so many anglers.

We’ve chosen, Tactical Fly Fishing: Lessons Learned from Competition for All Anglers as one of our best books on fly fishing. The author, Devin Olson, is a world-known fly angler who shares his techniques, strategies, and plan of attack for endless hours of successful trips on the water.

This excellent book provides an updated perspective on modern techniques that today’s fly fishermen use. Also, the book has an extensive set of photographs that are combined with some beautiful and useful drawings.

Which fly fishing books do you have in your collection? Share this post and share your opinions in the comments below!

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