How To Fly-Fish

Reviewed by Heather McNeill

If you're new to flyfishing, forget this book. For the beginner, Hauptman's editors addressed you on the back cover, by listing the basic equipment a new fly fisher needs.

After that, this is a gear junkie's dream. Prepare to be overwhelmed: snake guides, reverse half wells, reverse compound tapers, uplocking and down locking reel seats--all in the first 10 pages of reading!

Stuff, Stuff, and More Stuff

A quick look at the chapter titles tells the story of what Hauptman is emphasizing: Gear. The chapters are What You Need To Get Started, followed by Rods, Reels, Lines, Leaders, Flies, Knots, Waters, Waders, and finally Accessories. He sends the reader shopping with stunning details and illustrations of sinking lines, packages of leader, four different styles of waders and much more. But, what about fishing???

In Chapter 8, Waters, he finally discusses how to fly fish. Yet for some reason he drops his use of diagrams and illustrations. He waxes on-and-on in poetic longwinded sentences: "The Meadow Stream....There is no obvious insect activity upon the water, no clearly visible armada of mayflies floating g past you, no fluttering caddisflies skimming the surface. The trout seem to be opportunistically feeing on whatever drifts by. This is the perfect time to use your size 14 Adams." This is not a very how-to format. It's difficult for a newbie to understand, and near impossible to read, then approach the water and apply.

The final key failure is that of omission; the book implies that everyone seen on the water, learned from a book such as as this. It's rare a fisherman that easily succeeds in enjoying fishing by using only a book (let alone this complicated book) or by supplementing it with renting DVD's as Hauptman implies. Outside of saying you should have someone to teach you to cast (in an hour or two) he never returns to the idea of learning from other fly fishers. He would have you buy a full array of equipment just to "get started." He completely misses the best advice, the advice of professionals and experienced fisherman everywhere: find someone to mentor you on the water. Nothing makes up for seeking advice whether in a fly shop, a guide, a friend, or someone on the water who is just willing to be your mentor.

An Upside

On the upside, the book is packed with gear information and is fairly cheap. If you've established a love for the sport and are now looking to refine your understanding of gear, this book might be useful. Don't read it straight through, it's long winded. Use the index and jump to the information you need.

But please, don't make Hauptman's mistake and start talking to "wanna-be" fly fisher about compensated and uncompensated sinking lines; Talk about fishing, and how to fly fish.