Favorite Fly Tying Books

15 Best Fly-Tying Books (with Favorite Patterns)

The world of fly tying is a very vast and never ending addiction. There are so many views, opinions, techniques, and materials that one can’t actually know them all and it can be quite overwhelming just getting to grips with the basics.

Many say print is dead! I’m of a different opinion, and I find the old-school paper method of learning a whole lot better and more exciting. Yes, sure, I use YouTube to watch a few videos on how things are done. There are hundreds of hours to watch on any given topic. But I always seem to move back to my tying books for better references and techniques.

I think the fundamentals are best learned from a book. Next to your bed every night, you can read and re-read the step-by-step (SBS) until you are confident to tie the fly.

Below I will run through some of the books that the guys at Guide Recommended and I think are best to start out with.

1. Orvis Guide to Beginning Fly Tying by David Klausmeyer 

As the title suggests, this book is aimed at the very beginner. It goes through important first steps that many books and videos assume you already know. This often leads to some complications down the way as you are then needed to learn a new method for the techniques that actually work. The book also covers all the tools, materials, and hooks needed to tie simple, effective patterns that will catch fish.

One of the sections I love in this book is a discussion about the attributes of a good fly.

Studies have shown that trout have a poor ability to detect details, so a lot of the features added to our flies make little difference to what fish see.

This is great news for the fly tier and endorses what many fly tiers recommend, which is to keep flies simple and mimic size, shape, and movement.

Who is this book for?

This book is for the aspiring fly tier, the person that has been gifted a fly tying kit or has just started and wants to get to grips with the basics.

What I like about this book

The Orvis Guide to Beginner Fly Tying starts at the basics. Things that might get overlooked with other fly-tying books, like How to Read a Fly Pattern Recipe and Tips for Developing Consistency. As with most things in life, consistency is the key to success, and nothing rings more true than this in fly tying. The pattern doesn’t have to be the best but needs to imitate the intended aquatic insect enough to convince the fish to eat.

Where can I get this book?

Read what others say about this book from the 100’s of reviews and check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ Orvis Guide to Beginner Fly Tying

My favorite fly in the book

Beadhead Hare's Ear Nymph
Beadhead Hare’s Ear Nymph

The instructions for tying the bead head Hare’s Ear Nymph are clear, concise, and detailed with great pictures. With many patterns, the pictures are often the best way to understand the next step or mindset behind the next step of material used.

2. The Feather Benders, Fly tying Techniques by Barry Ord Clarke

This is a great book to have on the shelf. Aimed at the tier that has a moderate amount of knowledge, Barry covers all the basics again to bring you up to speed. He also adds a few twists of his own, things that he has mastered over the years.

The book also covers materials used for specific dry flies and other patterns. The instructions are on how you prep, use and finish the fly with these materials.

Who is this book for?

Aimed at the tier that has some basic knowledge of what all is involved in fly tying. The methods stemmed from the old-school approach with a few tricks added.

What I like about this book

One of my favorite parts of this book is its description of the materials used and needed for the chosen fly. A detailed, informative listing of the when and how to, make it a great educational piece to have and use.

Where can I get this book?

Super popular and getting to be a proven reference for any skill level of tier. Read reviews and check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ The Feather Benders, Fly tying Techniques

My favorite fly in this book

I like the depth of information on each fly, and the August Dun is a great example of this. A simple pattern that can be tied rather fast great triggers and key points that make it a very effective pattern.

Guide Pro Tip: Learning about the HOOKS for fly tying is fundamental, read πŸ‘‰ Understanding Fly Tying Hooks

3. The Fly Pattern Encyclopedia by Al Beatty

This book is a must for any serious fly tier. The book has great information that any good encyclopedia would have on a topic. The breakdown of each section of fly patterns is what I find the most interesting. They break down the when and where to use a certain pattern as well as the why, which is a very important part of the fishing, well, at least for me.

Who is this book for?

This book is ideal for those tiers that like to use books in a comparison format. It’s a great book to reference your completed fly to when you are done. There are also so many flies to work through in this book you will be kept busy for a while.

What I like about this book

One of my favorite things about this book is the photos of the flies. The picture is crisp and should have a very detailed pattern to work from.

Where can I get this book?

Read what others say about this book from the 100’s of reviews and check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ The Fly Pattern Encyclopedia by Al Beatty

My favorite fly in the book

caddis fly nymph bug and fly
caddis fly nymph bug and fly

The best fly for me in the book is the mattress thrasher. The name caught my eye first, then the pattern. It’s basically a darker version of the classic stimulator crossed with a CDC caddis, which I use a lot on the water I fish on. So, the pattern will work wonders for my area, especially early season when hoppers are a thing.

Guide Pro Tip: Ever wondered if you should buy or tie? Read about what I suggest in this article πŸ‘‰ Selecting Fly Tying Materials You Actually Need

4. FLY Tying MADE CLEAR AND SIMPLEby Skip Morris

This is a great book for everyone. The fact that it is broken down into four easy-to-understand parts is great. Then the way Skip writes and explains is perfect as well. Nothing fancy, just too the point and direct.

Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple by Skip Morris
Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple by Skip Morris

Who is this book for?

This book is great for anyone who is starting out or wants to learn more. The breakdown of what tools and materials to use and when to use them. The breakdown of different fly classes and patterns.

What I like about this book

My favorite part of this book is the description of the tools and materials. It is very comprehensive and thorough. The other part of the book that really sparks my interest is the SBS of the different techniques. Techniques like thread wraps lying flat, adding lead weight to the hooks, etc.

Where can I get this book?

Truly get back to the basics with a full color step by step guide to tying flies. This was one of the first book I got when beginning my tying journey. The pages are worn and the spine is cracked. A great resource check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ FLY TYING MADE CLEAR AND SIMPLE

My favorite fly in the book

Elk Hair Caddis for Dry Fly Fishing
Elk Hair Caddis for Dry Fly Fishing

This best part of this book isn’t a fly for me, but rather the way Skip illustrates the half hitch to finish a fly-off. Yes, you can use a whip finish tool, but on the bigger patterns, you can get more thread tension when tying off this way.

I’ve written all kinds of articles about Fly Tying Tools. (Most with Videos) Check out the shortcut links below

5. Tying Streamers by Charlie Craven

Just look at the cover of this book, and you will be sold! The Crips’ clean cover with the dungeon of sorts as the front cover pattern will make the purist of fly tiers excited.

Who is this book for?

This book is for anyone who wants to learn to tie streamer patterns. Anything from the classic woolly buggers to baitfish patterns to articulated flies it’s all there.

What I like about this book

The SBS photos and descriptions are great! The photos are very good quality, and the supporting words to describe what to do is brilliant and to the point.

Where can I get this book?

Here’s a shortcut link to Amazon to read more about this book. πŸ‘‰ Tying Streamers by Charlie Craven

My favorite fly in the book

My fly of choice in this book would be the Kamikaze Sculpin in tan. I’m a big fan of these types of pattern and fish them a lot of the time. They work for so many different species and are great fun to fish. The eats are usually vigorous and hard, which makes for super exciting fishing. The pattern itself is very adaptable and can be modified for various species. It can also just be fished like is and be very successful.

6. The Complete Book of Fly Tying by Eric Leiser

This is one of the most comprehensive fly-tying books around. It may be on the older side of styles and techniques, but they are still relevant today.

The book covers all styles and techniques of patterns. It has intricate flies for trout and bigger patterns for tarpon.

Who is this book for?

Although the book says it is for everyone, I feel you need to have a little experience in fly-tying to really get the most out of the book. With no pictures, you would need to understand what the next step means to do it correctly.

What I like about this book

As mentioned earlier, the book is very informative and has some lovely base techniques and methods. I think some of the tips may be a little outdated but still have relevance in the older style patterns.

Where can I get this book?

Read what others say about this book from the 100’s of reviews and check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ The Complete Book of Fly Tying by Eric Leiser

My favorite fly in the book

Again, to pick a specific fly out of this type of book is silly. I would rather like to stress the importance of how Eric goes through each material and its purpose on the fly. What is also really nice is that a substitute is provided for each material, if possible.

7. Clouser Flies by Bob Clouser

Bob Clouser needs no introduction in the fly fishing world. He is one of the pioneers of the sport and has been revolutionary in his mindset and fly design. Some may even say he was way before his time. I say thank you, Bob, as your clouser patterns have always caught me fish and will always have a space in my fly box.

Who is this book for?

This is a great book for all. Even if you don’t tie your own flies, it is a great book to have and just read. The information provided about the thoughts and processes of this pattern is remarkable. The base pattern is so effective, and when you add the variants to the pattern, it’s a very deadly pattern.

What I like about this book

What’s not to love about this book? I’m a self-confessed Clouser nut and have so many of these patterns for all my targeted species. If I were to choose a part, it would have to be the intros and the Designing flies chapter. Just reading these parts and the ‘forward’ section by Lefty Kreh is brilliant.

Where can I get this book?

Read what others say about this book from the 100’s of reviews and check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ Clouser Flies by Bob Clouser

My favorite fly in the book

Clouser Minnow is great for red drum
Clouser Minnow is an amazing streamer

This is easy. The classic Clouser is my favorite pattern to fish. It’s generally the first fly out the box when saltwater fishing and not far behind on fresh water.

Brown Trout Caught Nymph Fishing

8. Nymph Masters by Jason Randall

Nymph Master Fly Fishing Book
Nymph Master Fly Fishing Book

All formats of this technique are relatively new to the fly fishing world. The Euro nymphing style hasn’t been around for that long and so is still very undiscovered. For those fishers that know the style and how productive it can be, especially in waters that have deeper, faster pockets and or waters that have been flushed out, it is a great technique to learn.

Who is this book for?

This book is for anyone who wants to learn how to euro nymph. It’s a popular technique on the European rivers, and the fishers have mastered it rather well. Jason Randall is a master in his own right and breaks down his thoughts and processes for all of us to learn from.

What I like about this book

I love learning! I’m a huge advocate of Euro nymphing. I say this because the purists will argue it’s not true fly fishing and that it should be called dredging. Nymphing generally uses heavier flies to cut the current and get down to the feed zone, so your fly box is normally a selection of differently weighted nymphs.

In this book, Jason covers all aspects of the technique, from the how-to’s and when’s to the why’s.

Where can I get this book?

With nearly 300 pages of nymphing tips and techniques Jason Randall also shares his favorite flies along with the recipes for tying them. Read the reviews and check prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ Nymph Masters by Jason Randall

My favorite fly in the book

Prince Nymph from Nymph Masters Book
Prince Nymph from Nymph Masters Book

The information that is provided and the years of knowledge shared in this book are what make it a winner for me, not the flies. I would say the water reading information’s the most valuable here. The ability to read the water and work out where the fish are is what takes anglers years and years to master. Fortunately for us, Jason has made that easier for us.

9. Bob’s Fly Tying Tips and Techniques by Bob Haase

With over 65 years of fly tying experience, this book is for anyone. Whether you are a 50-year veteran or a beginner, there is something to learn from Bob, no doubt. This very comprehensive guide will not only teach you technique but will show you how to arrange your tying station to achieve optimal tying comfort and progression.

Bob's Fly Tying Tips and Techniques
Bob’s Fly Tying Tips and Techniques

Who is this book for?

This book is for all. For anyone who wants to learn to tie or wants to improve on their skills, this is a must for you.

What I like about this book

The breakdown and descriptive content are easy to read and understand. The understanding of how to do something through reading the content is important. The simple SBS is very easy to follow and tie to.

Where can I get this book?

With years of tying and a photography background this book teaches the basics and compliments that with tips and tricks to organize, prepare and quickly tie flies. A fantastic resource that will be referenced over and over. Check the current prices and availability with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ Bob’s Fly Tying Tips and Techniques

My favorite fly in the book

Bobs Hex Fly
Bobs Hex Fly

As with many of the previous books, I don’t like to choose a fly but rather compliment the writer on the information provided. This is a true reference book that even has a few pages in the bag to write your notes in.

Well done, Bob.

10. The Feather Mechanic by Gordon Van de Spuy

Gordon Van de Spuy is no stranger to the fly vice. He is one of the best fly tiers South Africa has produced. His logical approach to the pattern and its functionality of it is what makes me want to read on and learn more.

Who is this book for?

This book is for all. I would say having a little experience would be advantageous only because some of the patterns would require a little previous knowledge. Non the less, don’t be scared away if you don’t understand. There are beautifully drawn SBS pictures for you to follow.

What I like about this book

Once you have read this book, you will realize it’s personal. From each drawing that must have taken hours to sketch, down to the wording and conversations of each tier whose pattern is showcased. What is done so wonderfully in this book is the patterns creator is given huge credits and praise.

Where can I get this book?

Read what others say about this book from the 100’s of reviews and check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ The Feather Mechanic or if in South Africa from Stream and Sea with this link – HERE

My favorite fly in the book

The snakefly is my favorite in the book, such an effective pattern to fish when the going gets tough.

11. The Fly Tying Artist by Rick Tagahashi

Rick is a master, and his patterns will always have some form in our fly boxes. The simple SBS photos and descriptions in this book are just great to tie to.

Who is this book for?

This is a great book for the slightly more experienced tier. That said, a beginner can learn so much from it but must be willing to make mistakes and cut and retie. Rick is known for his modern style midges and dries.

What I like about this book

The SBS photography is just brilliant, clear, focused pictures that are relevant to the SBS stage.

Where can I get this book?

If learn how to create beautiful flies is where you like to develop your skills, pickup this book on Amazon with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ The Fly Tying Artist

My favorite fly in the book

Blue Winged Olive Fly
Blue Winged Olive Fly

The best part of the book and patterns would be Rick’s BWO patterns. His nymphs for this species of mayfly and stage of life are simple and very effective. Again it is more relevant for me as the BWO is what we tend to fish heavily in the beginning and middle of our season.

12. Fly Tying for Everyone by Tim Cammisa

As the name suggests, this is an excellent book for all. With great information from Tim and other pro tiers, there is loads to be learned and used as references. The simple photo explanations and wording are great to follow and easy to understand.

Who is this book for?

This book is for all. Even the most inexperienced tier can learn from this book. I’m also of the opinion that you can never stop learning, so even a pro tier can get some new info from Tim.

What I like about this book

As previously mentioned, the photo descriptions are what make the book for me, easy to follow and very descriptive.

Where can I get this book?

Read what others say about this book and check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ Fly Tying for Everyone

My favorite fly in the book

Mini Jig Bugger Fly Pattern
Mini Jig Bugger Fly Pattern

The mini jig bugger is one of my favorites. I have a selection of varied-weight versions in my fly box.

Easy to tie and very effective in pools that just aren’t producing the fish when you know they are there.

13. Basic Fly Tying by Charlie Craven

Referred as an essential for a beginner, I tend to agree. This is an excellent book for a beginner to get to grips with the art of fly tying. Modern patterns, both nymph, and dries are covered and showcased. The book has over 1000 photographs to reference and is a joy to read.

Who is this book for?

Aimed at beginners, it is ideal for those who want to learn the basics well and practice them to get better and better

What I like about this book

Where is book lacks photographic content, it does make up for great descriptions and how to SBS.

Where can I get this book?

Charlie Craven’s techniques and skills are awesome. His YouTube channel (Charlie’s Fly Box) is packed with a lifetime of tips for becoming a better fly tier. His book Basic Fly Tying is great, check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ Basic Fly Tying by Charlie Craven

My favorite fly in the book

Pheasant Tail Nymph variant (PTN) by Charlie Craven
Pheasant Tail Nymph variant (PTN) by Charlie Craven

Charlie PTN (pheasant tail nymph) variations are just spectacular, and they catch fish!

14. Saltwater Fly Patterns by Lefty Kreh

Lefty Kreh needs no introductions. He was a true visionary in the sport of fly fishing, and we owe him so much. Not only has he developed numerous fly patterns, of which the Lefties Deceiver is one of the best. He Has also been involved in rod building and countless other things.

Who is this book for?

This is a book for anyone that wants to delve into the tying of saltwater fly patterns. This is an incredibly informative book and one that is essential on the shelf if you tie saltwater patterns.

What I like about this book

Even though the book is quite old, the patterns are still very relevant in the saltwater fishing circles and have caught much fish. The photos are good and give you a good idea of what the pattern needs to look like.

Where can I get this book?

Lefty Kreh is a legend in the fly fishing and tying world. I’ve seen him cast, I can only describe it as effortless. Get the book that needs to be core to any saltwater fly fisher. Luckily it’s still available with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ Saltwater Fly Patterns Lefty Kreh

My favorite fly in the book

Streamers for Fly Fishing Deceiver Clouser Wooly Bugger Half and Half
Streamers for Fly Fishing: Deceiver, Clouser, Wooly Bugger, Half and Half

The original deceiver is always a firm favorite of mine to fish.

15. The FlyTiers Companion by Mike Dawes

This is an excellent book for anyone new or old to the art of fly tying. The patterns in this book are primarily classic and will teach you the techniques for the more modern patterns.

Who is this book for?

I would suggest the book be for a more settled tier. This means it will be better for you to know the basics first and then be able to follow the rest of these patterns with more confidence. They aren’t difficult patterns to learn, but rather the sketching can be a little tricky to follow at times.

What I like about this book

The comprehensive coverage of all things relating to the art of tying. This is a great reference book as well and will be at home on anyone’s shelf.

Where can I get this book?

Read what others say about this book from the 100’s of reviews and check the current prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ Flytiers Companion

My favorite fly in the book

BWO Emerger the perfect Baetis nymph
BWO Emerger the perfect Baetis nymph

The dun varietals are great little patterns. Imitating numerous nymph, emergers, and dun stages of the cycle, it is an excellent patttern for trout and grayling alike.

Wrapping up the last fly

Looking back to the time when I learned to tie flies, I had one or two books that I used daily to teach myself to tie. I would suggest finding your few books and reading them from cover to cover a good few times to learn as much from them as possible.

Tying flies is an art and such a great way to relax and unwind. For me, there is nothing better than catching a fish on a fly that you have tied, a true feeling of accomplishment.

Check out this article detailing what fly tying tools you should be look for πŸ‘‰ Fly Tying Tools for the Beginner. A great vise is going to help spin out more flies. I bought and reviewed a bunch of fly tying vises read the results πŸ‘‰ The Best Fly Tying Vises

Happy Tying!


Kyle Knight writer Guide Recommended

Kyle Knight

Fly fishing has been my passion and pursuit for the past 20 years. I am a South African based fly fisherman who loves nothing more than spending a day on the water. Fly fishing is more than catching fish, being in the outdoors with good friends and family is what it is all about.

Scroll to Top