Fly Patterns of British Columbia (Heritage/Amato $44.95)
It is one thing to tie a notable fly to the end of your leader with an expectation for reasonable success. It's a far greater pleasure to know the history of that fly — which rivers and estuaries or lakes it has swum; which fish it has deceived; what thoughts of design and presentation the originator put into its dressing and use.
A fly by [Roderick] Haig Brown or [Tommy] Brayshaw, by General Noel Money or the imaginative Bill Nation, will add a bit of their personality to your day on the water if you know some background. Arthur James Lingren has made this possible with Fly Patterns of British Columbia (Heritage/Amato $44.95), a bible of information on fishing flies dating back to the middle of the last century.
The first fly designed especially for B.C. fish was probably the Red shirted Trapper invented by John Keats Lord. How effective was it? In Lord's own words, “Passing the sticks under the gill covers, and out the mouth, I strung trout after trout until the sticks were filled.” That's sticks, not stick.
Lingren's book is as well researched as any book about fishing flies that has ever come to my attention. His criteria for fly selection is impeccable: documentation through letters, diaries, old books and conversations with modern tiers are just the start. Originality of design, the historical importance in fly development, the years of use and their appropriateness to their purpose are considered.
This is not a mish mash of every fly you have ever heard of; it is a careful choosing of those that have made the grade. The perspective is both historical and contemporary. The modern innovators of fishing flies are well represented by such clever tiers as Jack Shaw, Brian Chan, Jim Kilburn and a host of others including Lingren himself.
I suspect there has been no fly tier of steelhead flies in recent times as influential in creating or modifying standard flies to fit today's difficult angling conditions as Lingren. His modification of Colonel Drury's 'General Practitioner', called the 'Black G.P.', has become the fly that steelhead fly fishers, including this reviewer, turn to again and again. Another essential Lingren pattern is his 'As Specified', a great fly for low light conditions.
Lingren has restricted his book to patterns developed within this province alone. Each pattern is photographed separately in colour, described in detail, credited with its originator (unless unknown) and the locale for which it was designed.
Exact quotations from Roderick Haig Brown, Tommy Brayshaw, Bill Nation and others are priceless in gaining a full understanding of their flies. With this background, who cannot but feel the guiding hand of Haig Brown while drifting a Steelhead Bee through the Main Island Pool of the Campbell River?
Fly Patterns of British Columbia is nostalgic, but more importantly it is historical, the legacy of those who raised angling to the level of an art.