I previewed this book a few months ago and you can get some of the background behind it here. It was a bit of a leap of faith to promote a book that didn’t actually exist at the time, although given its pedigree and the credentials of those leading the project, the leap in this case was a fairly small one!
As it turns out, my high expectations haven’t merely been met, they’ve been exceeded. The first word which springs to mind to describe this book is ‘classy’. The handsome hardcover presentation on high quality paper, liberally sprinkled with lovely Trevor Hawkins sketches and Peter Whyte’s fly photos, make this an appealing book before a word has been read.
Upon getting down to actually reading ‘Australia’s Best Trout Flies Revisited’, the ‘classy’ standard is more than maintained. Where multiple contributors are involved the job of the editor can be challenging to say the least, so Rick Keam may not agree but I’d argue he was born for an assignment like this. Rick’s encyclopaedic knowledge of fly patterns and fly tying is second to none, and he’s also an exceptional editor. While it may not be obvious to many readers, Rick’s fingerprints are all over this book; undoubtedly making it more readable, but also adding to the book’s overall authority and accuracy as a reference. Meanwhile, Rick’s introduction is a highlight and adds context to the individual contributions that follow.
As for these contributions, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s good to see well-published contributors such as FlyStream regulars Jim Allen, Christopher Bassano, Craig Coltman and Peter Hayes inside. However I think this book is at least as valuable for including the work of flyfishers who haven’t appeared in print before. Australia has many talented fishers and tiers who fly under the radar, so to speak, and it’s handy that at least some of them have had their thoughts and ideas recorded here.
Of course the 34 contributions, each with six ‘favourite’ flies described, are the heart of this book. On a technical, trout-catching level, this is a lot of good, hard information to have compiled in one spot. I can’t begin to do the depth of this information justice here (that’s what 140 page books are for). However as but one example, it’s striking to see how many anglers, particularly competition anglers, have nominated variations on the same pattern. If several different people who are all trying to win international flyfishing competitions, are nominating a particular style of fly, that is serious food for thought. Flies aside, I really enjoyed the insights offered into the contributors themselves, including in many cases their flyfishing beginnings, mentors and significant moments.
Overall, ‘Australia’s Best Trout Flies Revisited’ more than rewards the mighty efforts of compiler Malcolm Crosse in pulling this whole complex project together.
Missing the original edition from your collection? Buy the set here at a special price of only $80.