“Simple Fly Fishing”- Book Review

A couple of nights ago during family dinner, me and all of the boys sat around the table discussing our fishing trips for this year. We talked about our ice fishing trip that we have planned next week to Georgetown Lake, where we will be fishing for rainbow trout and kokenai salmon. The discussion then led to fly fishing. We have fly poles and go out a few times each year,  but we all came to the conclusion that fly fishing is pretty intimidating. You go to the fishing store and there are thousands of flies and it is very overwhelming.  It looks so complicated and there is a whole science to it. In the movie “A River Runs Through It” they make it look so easy, but that doesn’t seem to be the case…or so we thought.

 I had just received “Simple Fly Fishing” and realized, “Boy, are we wrong”. The whole premise of this book is that fly fishing is as complicated as you make it and it shouldn’t cost you thousands of dollars (you heard me right) for a great day of fishing with an outfitter and gear. It simplifies the art and sport of fly fishing. The philosophy of the book is that you don’t need high-tech gear or fancy flies, all you need is a rod and one fly. How did we get sucked into the whole snob mentality and expensive trap of fly fishing? Why is fly fishing so elitist? And here we had the answer, sitting right in front of us. It cannot get simpler than what this book discusses. **Please note, this post contains affiliate links at no cost to you,  but by clicking on those links we can receive a small commission that ensures we are able to continue to provide you with great content.

The cover illustration by artist Dwight Hwang, using the traditional Japanese Gyotaku method.

There are two types of fly fishing, Western which most people know about that consists of a rod, line, reel and lots of weird flies. And then there is Tenkara, which is based in Japan and is hundreds of years old. The Tenkara method takes away the reel and gets you back to basics. It consists of a bamboo or fiberglass pole and a line, no reel and a fly. I have heard many stories from my mom and her cousins about fishing out on the ranch with a stick, some line and a fly. Apparently my mom caught more fish that way than any other, so back to basics…

Book Review“ Simple Fly Fishing- Techniques for Tenkara Rod & Reel” written by by Yvon Chounaird, Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo and published by Patagonia Books

Synopsis: Modern-day fly fishing, like much in life, has become exceedingly complex, with high-tech gear, a confusing array of flies and terminal tackle, accompanied by high-priced fishing guides. This book reveals that the best way to catch trout is simply, with a rod and a fly and not much else. The wisdom in this book comes from a simpler time, when the premise was: the more you know, the less you need. It teaches the reader how to discover where the fish are, at what depth, and what they are feeding on. Then it describes the techniques needed to present a fly at that depth, make it look lifelike, and hook the fish. With chapters on wet flies, nymphs, and dry flies, its authors employ both the Tenkara rod as well as regular fly fishing gear to cover all the bases. With paintings by renowned fish artist James Prosek, as well as inspiring photographs and stories throughout, Simple Fly Fishing reveals the secrets and the soul of this captivating sport. Foreword by American landscape artist and fly fisherman Russell Chatham.

Please note, this post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on those links, I may earn a small commision at no cost to you.

Why I Chose This Book: This book was kindly sent to me by Wild Ridge Public Relations on behalf of Patagonia Books.

About: This book is written by Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, and renowned fly fishermen Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo. “Simple Fly Fishing- 2nd Edition”, simplifies the art of fly fishing. It eliminates and debunks  all of the intimidating factors and myths like fancy gear and the mind-boggling theory of  flies, and makes it all seem easy. By creating a simple guide to fly fishing without all of the distractions and complexity, this book encourages beginners to start a new hobby. From the front cover to the back page, this book is packed with beautiful and vibrant full-color photos and illustrations and tips.  It discusses the different types of fly fishing and the different methods. The book provides details on how to cast, what types of flies to use, what fish eat and how to find them and even a guide to identifying the different types of fish. It explains what nymphs, wet flies and dry flies are and how to be successful at fly fishing. There are also multiple fishing stories, which makes this book even more unique and inspiring to fishermen, seasoned and novice alike.

My Thoughts About This Book: It is not “just another fishing book”. I fish as often as I can and carry a pole and a fly rod in the car year round. However, fly fishing has eluded me because I get so worried about if I am doing it right and flustered, especially when I see guys out on the river that look like they have been doing this forever. This book, it has changed all of that for me. It’s well written and easy to follow. The multiple illustrations and color guides are great references for tying knots and distinguishing different types of flies. There is a lot of information on what areas to fish in, what types of food the fish are eating and the different species of fish. There is a lot of step-by-step, clearly written instructions and guidance on how to fly fish using the Tenkara method and some great stories.

I really enjoyed this book. It has really helped me better understand fly fishing and feel more comfortable with it. There are not a lot of women who fly fish and the younger generation does not seem as interested. My son loved it the minute he saw the cover and keeps asking me “Mama, go fishing? Go eat fish”? I will refer back to it again and again, because the wealth of knowledge in it is beyond my expectations. I had initially thought that it would be really complicated and technical, which it isn’t. This book also made me really want to get out there and fly fish more, without feeling insecure and unsure of myself. Also, I fish mainly creeks and river banks so I think this would work much better for me.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in fly fishing, even if they don’t have the opportunity to get out there and try it. You do not have to be outdoorsy or fish to enjoy this book. It’s a great introduction to the world of fly-fishing and easy to understand.  And on a final note, I would go fishing with these guys any day!!

You can purchase this book by going here.

**Each author is donating all of their royalties to environmental causes, in addition to 1% for The Planet, that is automatically donated with any Patagonia product.

About the Authors:

Yvon Chouinard, a noted fly fisherman (chosen by Fly, Rod and Reel as “Angler of the Year” in 2009) and environmentalist, is the founder and owner of Patagonia, Inc. He cofounded, with Craig Mathews, 1% for The Planet, a group of businesses giving back to the environment. A bestselling author, “Simple Fly Fishing” is his third book and first release in the hunting and fishing genre. He lives in Ventura, California and Moose Jaw, Wyoming.

Craig Mathews, with his wife, Jackie, is the owner and founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, a retail fly-fishing outfitter based in West Yellowstone, Montana. Craig has authored five books on fly fishing in the western US and Yellowstone National Park and is renowned as an expert fly fishing guide.

Mauro Mazzo is an FFF Certified Master and THCI Casting Instructor, and he writes and photographs on a regular basis for European fly fishing magazines. He has fished around the globe from the Italian Alps to Himachal Pradesh, from Cuba to the Kola Peninsula. He lives in Milan, Italy.

You can follow Patagonia Books on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more information on more great books.


  • Ramae Hamrin

    5 years agoReply

    This is really cool. I have never gone fly fishing, but your post inspires me. I absolutely love your photos. Makes me want to go back to Colorado or Montana and do some fly fishing! Really nice post. Thank you!

  • Anna

    5 years agoReply

    My father can benefit from the book for sure. Will let him know. Thanks.

  • Tricia Snow

    5 years agoReply

    I am totally interested in fly fishing! Looking forward to getting the book!

  • Leigh Ann

    5 years agoReply

    You know I love your pictures! What a great review. My parents love to fly fish and would really like this book.

  • Angela Greven

    5 years agoReply

    Fly fishing is so beautiful to watch, I had no idea it could be so pricey. So nice that this book shows a simpler side to the sport, the photos are beautiful, I especially like the one of the authors at the end! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Tiffany

    5 years agoReply

    I work for my state’s natural resources agency (we have staff whose job it is to teach fly fishing basics and get more people to try the sport) but I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never tried it. It looks kind of intimidating. I’m happy to hear that it doesn’t have to be overly-complicated. I’ll have to pick up the book and give it a shot!

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      It is really intimidating but this style is pretty simple. I think more people should learn to fly fish.

  • Junell DuBois

    5 years agoReply

    Interesting book. I’ve never been flyfishing but it always seems like such a peaceful way to spend an afternoon.

  • jen

    5 years agoReply

    I miss fly fishing… you’ve re inspired me. 🙂

  • Cindy

    5 years agoReply

    Fly fishing seems like an artistic sport activity. It looks so graceful. I’m betting it’s much more challenging than it looks. Sounds like a very helpful book.

  • Sandi

    5 years agoReply

    Great review. My brother is a fly fisherman, I never realized how involved it is.

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      It is pretty involved but this book simplifies it.

  • Meagan

    5 years agoReply

    I love that it just goes back to the simple side of the sport.

  • Melanie Walsh

    5 years agoReply

    Sounds like a great guide! Finding a helpful guide can make any task seem manageable, and this book will be a great resource.

  • Michele Vadnais

    5 years agoReply

    I’m not a fisherman, but this would make a great gift!

  • Kathryn at QuestFor47

    5 years agoReply

    Great review. I’ve only been fishing once, but not fishing like this. This book will make a great gift!

  • Kim

    5 years agoReply

    I love your pictures! I’ve always wanted to try fly fishing but I dont know if I have the patience! Haha

  • Dennis

    5 years agoReply

    Too often people buy into marketing scheme that leads you to believe you have to buy the best of everything to succeed. Keeping it simple is always good advice.

  • Nicki

    5 years agoReply

    Great photos! I think more and more people are going to go “back to basics”. Life in general does not need to be as hard as we are making it.

  • Jennifer Morrison

    5 years agoReply

    A friend of mine took a course on this a few years ago and became certified. I have never tried it, but it sounds like a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

  • Shirley

    5 years agoReply

    Sound like a great book. My husband has been wanting to fly fish. I will have to get this book for him.

  • Brittany

    5 years agoReply

    Great pictures! Fly fishing sounds very relaxing and peaceful.

  • Holly Bird

    5 years agoReply

    Looks like a great book! Thank you for sharing this review!

  • T.M. Brown

    5 years agoReply

    This is not something I have ever done, but I think my husband did when he was younger. I do, however, know a few people who would be interested in reading this book, so I am going to pass the title along to them.

  • Katie

    5 years agoReply

    I love anything that simplifies, while I haven’t tried fishing much, some may be the overwhelm I feel in sporting shops with all their different bait, poles, and options. Maybe I should start here before I try to fish again!

  • Laura

    5 years agoReply

    Looks like a fascinating read! Thanks for sharing this with you!

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