Whatcha been reading lately?

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    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    I figure if enough people respond to this we might be able to compare notes on a virtual fishing/outdoor library.

    I have two bookshelves at home: a big wall-built one that holds “reserves” and a “current reading” one that comprises the whole left side of my tying desk.

    That current reading shelf (which is made up of books I have read in the last few months) has the following, with 5 star ratings just for kicks:

    1) Tennessee Trout Waters by Ian Rutter ***
    2) Trout Bum by John Gierach *****
    3) At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman by John Gierach ****
    4) Sex, Death and Flyfishing by John Gierach (unread)
    5) The Earth is Enough by Harry Middleton **
    6) Dances with Trout by John Gierach ****
    7) Another Lousy Day in Paradise by John Gierach *****
    8) Galen Rowell’s Vision by Galen Rowell *
    9) Nature Photography by John Shaw ***
    10) Spey Casting by Simon Gawesworth *****
    11) The National Geographic Photography Field Guide ****
    12) Spey Casting by Hugh Falkus **
    13) The Outdoor Photographer’s Handbook by Barry and Cathy Beck **
    14) Fly Rod Building Made Easy by Art Scheck *****
    15) The New Kayak Workshop by Chris Kulczyzki ****
    16) Advanced Flyfishing Tactics by Lefty Kreh ****
    17) Green River Virgins by Mallory Burton **** (primarily for the title story)
    18) Antique Fly Reels by D.B. Homel ***
    19) The Western Angler by Rodrick Haig-Brown ****

    And, in the non-fishing realm:

    20) The Master and Margarita by Milkhail Bulgakov ***** (amazing Russian novel that is a national phenomenon there)
    21) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown ***
    22) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen *****
    23) Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie ***** (big Hercule Poirot fan)
    24) The Making of England 55 B.C. to 1399 by C. Warren Hollister ****
    25) The Aubrey-Maturin Novels by Patrick O’Brian (all of them) *****

    Please take as recommended anything which I give four stars or more and stay away from anything two stars or below!

    What are you reading?


    As of last night I finished reading “The Longest Silence” by Thomas McGuane which was an excellent read.

    bryan hulse

    I’m re-reading “The Brothers Karamazov” the Bantam version translated by Andrew MacAndrew. I have “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy waiting in the wings. I think “The Longest Silence” is the best narrative written on fly fishing.


    Cool topic.

    Lately, I’ve been plowing through a series of books on self publishing and book marketing. Not exactly “edge of your seat” stuff, but useful all the same.

    Like Zach, I’m also reading Ian Rutter’s Tennessee Guide Books since I’ll be back that way in early May. Compared to other guides books I’ve read, his are a breath of fresh air. (I just saw sample spreads from Ian & Charity’s new photo & essay book titled “Rise Rings & Rhodedendrons.” Can’t wait to see it in print, which should happen soon.)

    Reading Jimmy Carter’s new book, and trying hard to warm up to James Babb’s Fly-Fisin’ Fool. His perspective is interesting, but his sentences are long. Scheez.

    The bookshelf in my office holds my “desert island” books — the reads I’d take with me if I had to grab and run, assuming the 14,162′ inactive volcano I live on woke up.

    It includes most of what Gierach has written. The genius of Gierach is that he actually lives the life he writes about (and there are more than few “pretend trout bums” in this industry).

    Gierach’s popular enough that it’s even become fashionable to dismiss him, yet he’s doing the same thing he always has — living the trout bum life and writing about it with great precision and insight.

    Others include:
    The Longest Silence by McGuane (beautiful)
    Spring Creeks by Lawson
    Fishing Small Flies by Engle
    Seasonal by Engle (essays about his life as a forest service employee)
    Trout Flies by Dave Hughes (an underrated book)
    Slack Line Fishing Strategies by John Judy (another sleeper)
    Wet Flies by Dave Hughes (classic)
    Fly Fishing the Southe Platte by Roger Hill (a cult classic)
    A Clean, Well Lighted Stream by Michael Checchio (another sleeper)
    Meanderings of a Fly Fisher by Seth Norman
    Jerusalem Creek by Leeson
    AK’s Fly Box by AK Best (can’t warm up to Fishing with AK)
    Trout by Ray Bergman

    Non fly fishing:
    Several volumes by Twain
    The Dynamic English by Kosten (chess)
    Mortal Games by Fred Waitzkin (wrote Searching for Bobby Fischer)
    Assorted McGuane fiction
    The Creation by Ernst Haas
    The Elements of Style by White
    Writing the Natural Way by Rico
    Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
    We Are Still Married by Garrison Keillor
    A River Runs Through It by Maclean

    Lots of other stuff. (As soon as I post this, I’m going to slap my forehead and wonder how I could have left “XXXX” out…)



    I believe Tom McGuane is superb. Gierach can be good, but I think he may be disingenuous sometimes, (Imagine a fishing writer being disingenuous). Still, some of Gierach’s tales are classic.

    Some Titles to consider:
    The Year of the Angler and The Year of the Trout
    by Steve Raymond *****

    Royal Coachman by Paul Schullery ****

    The Founding Fish by John McPhee *****

    Does anyone have an opinion of , Trout Hunter, The Way of an Angler, by Rene Harrop?


    Yeah, I was disappointed by Harrop’s Trout Hunter. It lacks a theme, and as a writer, he’s neither a superb storyteller or brimming with insight.

    Some of his stories were interesting, but in the end, the book failed for me. Thinking about selling my copy. Lawons’ Spring Creeks book is a much better “how-to.”

    Has anyone read Fly Fishing Pressured Water by Gonzalez? I spoke with Seth Norman the other day and he thought it was a good book. Wondered if anyone else had read it.

    Tom Chandler

    chris zandochris zando

    Picked up “Pale Morning Done” and read it cover to cover. Best flyfishing story since the one they made the movie about.

    mike b.

    I was disappointed in Trout Hunter as well.





    Now there’s a good read.



    Zach, nice site man. I’ve been banging through the Randy Wayne White series of Doc Ford novels.

    Eric WellerEric Weller

    Pick up Ted Fauceglia’s “Mayflies”, the photography is awesome.  You can’t beat Gierach and his books.  I love all of them.  Boy if I had to list all of my books here, this would become a book!  I am always looking for a good read on fly fishing, so I think I’ll grab Pale morning Done.  Sounds good!



    Try some older stuff from Roderick Haig-Brown if you’ve never read him –good stuff.

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Thought I might update this a little as it’s a remarkably useful thread for anyone interested in fishing literature or general reading.

    Since I wrote this I’ve read a lot of different stuff.

    troy lark

    I put in a second recommendation for “Pale Morning Done”


    I was thinking that a classic needed to be one the list…the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway…namely the Nick Adams Stories.


    Love all of Gierach’s books, and re-read them.

    Nick Lyons’ Spring Creek, three times.

    Currently making my way through William Tapply’s Brady Coyne series (fly fishing Boston lawyer), though think I prefer his First Light and Bitch Creek.

    Pale Morning Done was great, as was Nail Knot.

    Now reading Bill Bryson’s memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.


    Anything by David James Duncan he can write

    River Teeth
    The River Why
    My Story as told by Water
    The Brothers K

    others as well

    The Longest Silence,
    all 3 of David Ames books

    good Fishing Books you may not of heard of

    SMALLMOUTH FLY FISHING – Tim Holschlag, amazing book on fly fishing for smallies not well known since he publishes himself

    Striper Strategies: The Secrets of a Striper Bum – Jack Gartside – a pamphlet he turned into a book.


    This is a great site.


    I just finished a book by Leonard M. Wright, Jr. titled “Fishing the Dry Fly as a Living Insect” which I purchased at a local used book store along with “Quill Gordon” and “The Way of the Trout.”
    The dry fly book (1972) is extremely well written and details a very unique fishing technique which I am going to attempt in the spring.
    I enjoy all of Gierach’s books and liked Raines first book but I really like reading the classics. Trout Madness by Voelker is one of the best books I’ve ever read and Ernest Schwiebert’s A River for Christmas comes in at a close second.

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