It's easy to forget that in between his collections of essays, John Gierach has published a number of slender volumes, each devoted to a single aspect of fly-fishing and usually of a more technical nature. Flyfishing the High Country
and Fishing Bamboo
come to mind. Some readers may grouse that these tracts are more about one angler's proclivities and lack the lode of quotable lines of the essay collections--and they'd be right--but like a comfortable old pair of waders, they get the job done in a familiar sort of way, which is to say they mark the developments of an ever-changing pursuit at a particular time, with a nod to the author's own role therein. If it sometimes seems like Gierach can write them in his sleep, so be it; that's what happens when the honing of style meets extensive first-hand experience. Good Flies
finds Gierach behind the fly-tying vise, sorting through his neck feathers and homemade bodkins in an effort to make sense of his own fly-tying tendencies within the larger, centuries-old tradition. "Tying our own flies is where many of us go off the deep end in fly fishing," he admits in the introduction as a caveat emptor. Non-tiers might lose interest in the subsequent chapters of seeming arcana covering everything from the pros of spade hackle (essential for dry-fly tails) to the cons of beadheads (they're ugly). But amid this abundance of information and opinion, Gierach's puckish, Twain-like sensibilities poke through just enough so that any fly-fisher with a taste for the sport's hallowed literature, regardless of whether he ties his own, can settle back with a copy of Good Flies
and enjoy the drift. Gierach has been around. He remembers when Dave's hopper first jumped into the scene as well as the nutty "graduate students" in the '70s who fished with "dinky little, otherwise useless rods, pocket-watch-sized reels, and leaders as fine as spider web" in order to catch the midge hatch before anyone really knew what a midge was. Tiers may take issue with some points, but they're more than likely to come away with some new ideas, too. It's all part of the ongoing riverside chat that John Gierach has been having with fly-fishers for the past two decades. --Langdon Cook
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
""If Mark Twain were alive and a modern-day fly fisherman, he would still be hard put to top John Gierach." --Sports Illustrated"