As a regular columnist for a number of fly fishing magazines, Prof. Jack W. Berryman has crafted numerous informative and interesting profiles of legendary Northwest fly anglers. In Fly Fishing Pioneers and Legends of the Northwest (Northwest Fly Fishing, 2006--$29.95) we find a large collection of these articles collected (and sometimes expanded upon). What results is an absolute "must have" for fly angling, fly tying, and fishing history fans.
The subjects read like a who's who of fly fishing. The inimitable Dan Bailey, the fascinating Ted Trueblood, and the legendary Roderick Haig-Brown are included, as well as some figures that might not be as recognizable but are still of great influence and importance, such as fly tier Bill Nation and Bill Schaadt, who has received some interest lately stemming from the epic documentary Rivers of a Lost Coast.
The articles are all about the same length and because they were originally written for magazine format follow about the same formula, which is not a bad thing. Each of the essays are informative, although one wishes there could have been additional illustrations. Berryman writes in an engaging and forthright manner; footnotes would have been nice but of course, in this day and age seem to have gone the way of the Dodo.
It is a pretty book, well laid out and edited and with attractive design. At 206 pages it is the right length for a book like this, and can be digested in pieces, which is exactly how I read the book. I found myself reading one or two chapters, setting it aside for a few weeks, and then returning to read another chapter. Several months later I was somewhat saddened to discover I had finished the book, and was left wanting more. We can all hope Prof. Berryman pens a sequel.
Although this book is about five years old, the subject matter is timeless. Well-written, informative, and filling a badly needed gap in our fishing history, Fly Fishing Pioneers and Legends of the Northwest should be in every serious fly angler's library.
The book is currently on sale for half price direct from the publisher, and a bargain like this should not be passed up.
-- Dr. Todd