The 10 Best Fly Fishing Books Every Angler Should Read 

Reading about a subject of your interest is one of the best ways to gain more knowledge. While it is a physical activity that requires practice, fly fishing is not any different, as there is so much to gain from reading fly fishing books.

These books are written by veteran fly anglers who have experienced fly fishing in its totality.

Fly fishing literature is divided into instructional books on fly fishing, fiction and non-fiction books on fly fishing, as well as books containing the best location for fly fishing.

We have put together a list of 10 of the best fly fishing books that every angler should read. 

best fly fishing books

10 Fly Fishing Books

1. The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide by Tom Rosenbauer

Best For Beginners

The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide, Revised
  • Rosenbauer, Tom (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 408 Pages – 05/01/2017 (Publication Date) – Lyons Press…

The Orvis Fly Fishing Fly Fishing Guide by Tom Rosenbauer is a suitable book for anglers that are just beginning fly fishing. The Orvis Guide serves as a detailed introduction to the sport from a seasoned angler.

In the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide, Tom Rosenbauer touches on a wide range of topics that covers fly fishing gear, tackle, and tips for selecting your flies. He also provides detailed information on tactics suited for both freshwater and saltwater fly fishing.

This is one fly fishing book that every beginner angler should check out, as there is so much to learn from it.

2. Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die by Chris Santella

Best For Travelling Anglers

One of the biggest challenges that most fly anglers face is finding the right destinations for fly fishing. For some anglers, it is a case of finding new destinations while for others, they seek to fish in better conditions than the ones they are used to.

Whatever your needs might be, Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die by Chris Santella will help you to find the most beautiful fly fishing locations around the world.

This book contains the list and pictures of these destinations. It also details the type of water and fish that can be found in different destinations. With this book, you can plan for your next fly fishing trip. 

3. The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Best Non-Fiction Story

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
  • Johnson, Kirk Wallace (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages – 04/23/2019 (Publication Date) – Penguin Books…

If you are looking for a captivating thriller that is set in a world of fly fishing, then you should check out The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson.

This non-fiction book tells the story of a young fly tier known as Edwin Rist. In 2009, the young Edwin Rist successfully broke into the British Natural History Museum and stole hundreds of rare bird skins.

These bird skins were quite valuable as they cost a few thousand dollars apiece. These feathers were priceless to salmon fly tiers, one of whom was Edwin Rist.

While some of the bird skins were brought back to the museum unharmed, some made their way into the secretive world of the passionate group of fly tiers, never to be seen again.

The Feather Thief tells the story of how the bird skins got to the museum, the heist, and the events that followed the heist. 

4. The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing by Thomas McGuane

Best Assortment Of Characters

The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing
  • McGuane, Thomas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages – 02/12/2019 (Publication Date) – Vintage…

A timeless book like The Longest Silence by Thomas McGuane is what you get when you combine the experience of a great angler and the prowess of a great writer. The Longest Silence is a beautiful book by a great storyteller.

The book contains forty essays that take the reader on a roller-coaster. Across the book, the reader gets to enjoy the experience of different characters such as a Mormon river guide and a Canadian frontiersman.

The setting of the book moves from Montana to Iceland down to Mexico. Other books by Thomas McGuane on fly fishing include Upstream: Fly Fishing in the American West and My Life in Fishing: Favorite Long Stories Told Short. 

5. The River Why by David James Duncan

Best For Fictional Readers

The River Why
  • Duncan, David James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages – 03/29/2016 (Publication Date) – Back Bay Books…

The River Why is an amazing work of fiction that follows the life of Gus Orviston. Born into a fishing family, he leaves home as a high school graduate pursuing a life as a fly fisherman.

The book follows the experience of Gus Orviston as a fly angler who hunts fish every day. The book which touches on everything about fly fishing also contains elements of love, self-discovery, and spirituality. The River Why was adapted into a film in 2010. 

6. Where the Trout Are All as Long as Your Leg by John Gierach

Best For A Brief Read

Where the Trout Are All as Long as Your Leg (John Gierach’s Fly-fishing Library)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Gierach, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

John Gierach is the author of many excellent books on fly fishing and Where the Trout Are All as Long as Your Leg is one of them.

If you are looking for a quick read, then you might want to check this book out. It contains a couple of funny and entertaining stories about John Gierach’s adventures as a fly fisher on small streams.

It is a great book to keep in touch with the world of fishing when you are not out angling. 

7. The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing by Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyers

Best For Learning About Fly Presentation & Selection

The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing (Little Books)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Deeter, Kirk (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing written by Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyers is a comprehensive book on fly fishing that can be used by all anglers. It is a unique reliable fly fishing book as it has information that cuts across different skill levels.

This makes it useful for beginner anglers, intermediate anglers, and veteran anglers. It can be described as a “one-book-fits-all” fly fishing book.

The book is structured into parts with topics like casting, fly selection, and presentation, finding trout in a river, wading, as well as tips on fighting fish all discussed.

The sectioning of the book into parts makes it easy for anglers to find the information that they need quickly. This book is a great gift for any fly angler. 

8. Fly-Casting Fundamentals by Lefty Kreh

Best For Anglers Wishing To Improve Their Cast

Fly-Casting Fundamentals: Distance, Accuracy, Roll Casts, Hauling, Sinking Lines and More
  • Kreh, Lefty (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages – 12/08/2011 (Publication Date) – Stackpole Books…

As the name suggests, Fly-Casting Fundamentals written by Lefty Kreh is a fishing book that contains information on casting a fly. A fly fishing expert himself, Lefty Kreh wrote this book to provide both rookie and seasoned anglers with all the information that they need to cast a fly properly.

Some of the fly fishing techniques contained in the book are roll cast, speed cast, curve cast, and more. It also contains tips on fly casting accuracy, determining the casting weight as well as perfecting your double haul. 

9. A River Never Sleeps by Roderick Haig Brown

Best For All Levels Of Anglers

A River Never Sleeps
  • Haig-Brown, Roderick L. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages – 10/21/2014 (Publication Date) – Skyhorse…

A River Never Sleeps by Roderick Haig Brown is an intriguing fly fishing literature that captures the essence of the sport.

It is very similar to The Longest Silence, as it also contains essays about fly fishing trips. Interestingly, Thomas McGuane wrote the afterword of this book. 

The book takes you through a fly-fishing adventure that lasts a year. The journey goes from one river to another, fishing in freshwater as well as saltwater. Fishing in spring, summer, autumn, and winter. It is a book that both beginner and veteran anglers will enjoy. 

10. A River Runs Through It By Norman Maclean 

Best For Passionate Fly Fishermen

A River Runs through It and Other Stories
  • Maclean, Norman (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 262 Pages – 05/16/2017 (Publication Date) – University of…

A River Runs Through It by Norman is the most popular story in a collection of stories known as A River Runs Through It and Other Stories. A semi-autobiographical account of the author’s life as a fly fisher. The book chronicles his relationship with his brother with whom he often went fly fishing.

It tells the story of an angler who truly loved fly angling all through his lifetime. A River Runs Through It is a captivating story that every angler should read. The book was adapted into a film in 1992, starring Craig Sheffer opposite Brad Pitt.  


Other fly fishing books to check out include Hemingway on Fishing by Ernest Hemingway, Trout Magic by Robert Traver, as well as Reading Trout Water by Dave Hughes which addresses cut banks and pocket water.

The best thing about these fly fishing books is that you will also learn something new every time you read any of them.  

Daniel O’Neill
Fishing Expert
Daniel specializes in fly, predator, and saltwater angling. He has practiced angling from a young age, quickly developing his knowledge of fishing fundamentals. His angling journey began in Ireland, primarily targeting rainbow trout on a fly rod. His passion for angling grew extensively as he ventured into other forms of fishing. He primarily targets freshwater and saltwater destinations in Ireland and the UK. His favorite catch to date was a 7lb / 3.6KG thick-lipped mullet from the Northern Irish coast—a prized fish to target on a fly rod. He is now the owner of DON Angling, a business that intends to inform and educate anglers on the best techniques, methods, and etiquette available.
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