The following is a list of books I’ve read (with reviews) during the last year concerning fly fishing.
1. Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Written by Jim Casada in 2009, the book contains descriptions of just about every stream in the Smokies, with an adequate recitation of fishing techniques, as well as the history of each stream/area. This is by far the best book I’ve read regarding fly fishing in the Smokies.
2. Trout Streams of Southern Appalachia: In this the 3rd Edition, Jimmy Jacobs does a nice job of covering the streams and rivers in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina & Tennessee. The book is organized by River Systems, and the sections covering Georgia are particularly good. Some of the stream analysis seems a little out of date and/or supplemented in an awkward manner. Nevertheless, this book is noteworthy for covering rivers and streams that are not necessarily the normal fly fishing destinations.
3. The Southeast’s Best Fly Fishing: James Buice’s 2009 book attempts to discuss the “premier trout streams and rivers of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky". Mr. Buice organizes his book by River, and includes chapters covering the streams that intersect with the major rivers. The book is a good “starter” book for those fishing the area. Mr. Buice uses local guides to gather inside information on techniques for the various rivers. Each chapter provides hatch charts and suggestions on fly patterns. Missing from this book are some of the true gems of the area; though the justification for omitting such streams is appropriate.
4. GSMNP Angler’s Companion: Ian Rutter’s short book on the Smokies provides concise and informative descriptions of most of the streams in the Smokies. My version of this book (2002) is a little out of date; though it remains a good starting point for mapping out trips to the Smokies. Similar to Mr. Buice’s book, Mr. Rutter leaves out some of the true gems of the Smokies in an obvious attempt to avoid too much pressure on fragile areas.
5. A River Runs Through It: I re-read this book in the Spring, and it is truly a wonderful book. I’m sure most who fly-fish have read this book and/or seen the movie. Reading the book for a second time made me realize that this is not really a fly-fishing book, but rather, a simple story of life that happens to intersect with fly fishing. Sad, beautiful, and profound in an obvious and simple way, the story is quite powerful.
6. The River Why: When I purchased this book from a fly shop in September the salesperson told me it was a tough read. I couldn’t disagree more. The River Why, like A River Runs Through It, is honestly a great book. Unlike other fly fishing books, the author of The River Why is truly skilled at his craft. The first quarter of the book is a non-stop laugh-fest, and then the book becomes somewhat of a love story and a book of philosophy. Themes one might see in a Hesse book are found throughout The River Why. I would rate this as the best book I’ve read that concerns fly fishing.
7. John Gierach - Trout Bum/Sex, Death and Fly fishing: I read these two books over the summer - very easy reading. Reading Gierach is kind of like reading a Grisham novel in that the pages turn very easily. Gierach’s books are really not books in the traditional sense: these are short stories (chapters) concerning various aspects of fly fishing. His books read as if they are articles put together in book form. Only a fly-fisherman would really enjoy these books, and I did enjoy Trout Bum. Gierach’s beliefs and observations are spot-on, and we can all relate to the stories he tells.
8. Harry Middleton - The Earth is Enough/On the Spine of Time: I borrowed both of these books from friends. Unlike the succinct writing found in The River Why and A River Runs Through It, Mr. Middleton’s books are overabundantly comprised of failed attempts at profound thoughts, sentences and paragraphs. Reading Middleton reminded me of the type of writing most high-school kids would attempt after reading some of the classics in philosophy. The stories within the story are often absurd and contradictory; though entertaining. Mr. Middleton’s books are worth reading for those fly-fishing in the GSMNP.