Tom Rosenbauer has built a life around fly fishing. He began tying flies commercially at age fourteen. He has fished the world over, including Kamchatka, Christmas Island, and English chalk streams. He has served the Orvis company in virtually every capacity possible, including as an instructor. Currently, he is Orvis’s Marketing Manager. Lucky for all of us, he has written down much of what he has learned and taught over time.
The SFF Library currently holds three of his works. It recently purchased The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide. Most of us, I think, at some point during our fly fishing lives, read one of the iterations of this guide. The earliest was issued in 1984. At least some of us have probably even received one as a gift (perhaps to ourselves!), given the availability of this book in most fly-fishing shops.
As one would expect from all things Orvis, this most recent edition is another wonderfullyillustrated, well written, entertaining guide. It is very suitable for a beginner, even with its size and the breadth of material covered. It is not entirely given over to trout fishing– a detailed chapter on salt water fly fishing, including barracuda, dorado, and even sharks, is included, as is a section on panfish.
The chapters on gear selection are extensive yet easy to understand and, given the recent publication, probably the most current such guidance the library has available. It makes extensive use of photography to illustrate teaching points but it also uses wonderful artwork, including sketches and watercolors by Bob White, for such as casting and knot tying. Indeed, the knot-tying instruction is simply the best I’ve seen. While intended for the neophyte, it is a highly entertaining work with simply great photography and art and a wealth of information. Some of White’s still-life and fishing scenes will cause the reader to pause, admire, and reflect.
Fly Fishing for Trout: The Next Level, is an equally wonderful instructional piece that also uses distinctive, sometimes annotated photography to illustrate most of the teaching points made. In fact, I’ve never seen a fishing manual that does a better job of using photos as teaching tools. Obviously intended for those who have advanced in the sport it can be a bit technical, yet the author’s plain-spoken, unpretentious style and the many pictures hold the reader’s attention and eliminate the frustration technical writing can sometimes create.
The text is organized around the seasons, with nice discussions of hatches and corresponding strategies for each. The many photos used to illustrate reading water and determining trout lies are nicely marked with bright red trout silhouettes placed just where they should be in the current. I was amazed (being one of those who have a tough enough time spotting and identifying hatching insects) at the quality of the photos of hatching and egg-laying insects in the surface film of moving waters. The angler who reads Fly Fishing for Trout… will be well entertained and will also come away, I’m sure, a better angler, especially with regard to reading water.
Finally, Rosenbauer throws us a wonderful change of pace with Fly Fishing in America, a short yet information-rich historical work that discusses, concisely and neatly, the history of fly fishing in each region of the country. Each regional history is nicely accompanied by fascinating historical photographs. Rosenbauer seems to take particular delight inrevealing the role women played in these histories. Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby, an outdoors woman of renown equal to that of Annie Oakley, is shown with a stringer of rout while dressed in her preferred fishing garb designed in Paris! Three famous Florida flats guides, Frankie Albright, Beulah Cass, and Bonnie Smith, who guided some of the noted fly fishing personalities just after World War II, are shown with what may have been the first bonefish intentionally targeted and caught with a fly. Brief, yet wonderfully rich in significant American fly fishing history, this book has to be read by anyone seeking an historical overview of our craft.
All three of these wonderful works are held in the SFF Library. Stop by and check them out for wonderfully informative and entertaining reads!