Review: The Oddballs

By Scott Richmond

What's an "oddball?" A new fly tied by an enthusiastic ten-year-old? The guy that just made a weird post on Westfly? Your fishing buddy, perhaps?

In Jeff Morgan's book The Oddballs (subtitled Productive Trout Flies for Unorthodox Prey), an oddball is any trout food that isn't a mayfly, caddisfly, or stonefly. By that definition, damselflies, midges, and grasshoppers are not so odd oddballs. But what about black flies? Snails? Daphnia? Aphids?

Few fly anglers carry patterns to imitate those critters, but some times in some seasons on some waters, that's exactly what you need to be productive.

What You'll Find

In The Oddballs Morgan covers a plethora of interesting trout foods, including but not limited to the following: ants, aphids, tui chub, sticklebacks, beetles, black flies, centipedes, midges, crane flies, damselflies, daphnia, dragonflies, grasshoppers, horse flies, honeybees, leeches, mosquitoes, moths, scuds, snails, sowbugs, and waterboatmen.

For each of these he describes the insect (or whatever it is), offers several fly patterns, and shares ideas on what makes--or doesn't make--a good imitation.

If you've been around Westfly for a long time, you'll remember when Jeff Morgan wrote a monthly fly tying column. Many of the ideas and patterns in The Oddballs made their first public appearance on this website.

To complete the Westfly connection, The Oddballs is graced with photos by Arlen Thomason and drawings by Bill Marshall, both of whom are veteran Westflyers. As always, their work is outstanding.

Bottom line

Jeff Morgan thinks profoundly and innovatively about trout foods and their imitation. If you're serious about fly fishing for trout in rivers and lakes, The Oddballs is a must-have book.

The Oddballs: Productive Trout Flies for Unorthodox Prey, by Jeff Morgan. Published by Frank Amato Publications in 2012. 136 pages in a 11 x 8.5 softbound format, all color. $29.95 retail. Available online (google the title), from some fly shops, or from the publisher.

Scott Richmond is Westfly's creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River (second edition).