"Fishing Atlantic Salmon, The Flies and the Patterns" by Jospeh D. Bates, Jr. - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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"Fishing Atlantic Salmon, The Flies and the Patterns" by Jospeh D. Bates, Jr.

i purchased this book about 9 years ago when my daydreaming about Atlantic Salmon began in earnest. It is an absolute classic, and is loaded with everything you could want to know about fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon. The color fly plates and photos are amazing (numerous color photos of flies tied by Syd Glasso and many other excellent and ledgenday tyers.) Fly patterns and their history, world wide destinations (the chapter on Iceland ALWAYS gets my mind wandering), theories on fly selection, etc, etc. Hopefully someone else will chime in and write a more eloquent review as this book deserves it. Over the years when my mental wanderings lead me back to Atlantic Salmon i always pull this book out, and just get lost in the pages. I really wish i could have met Colonel Bates. Cheers,Chris
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 11:55 AM
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Col. Joseph Bates was, in my mind, the consummate fly collector. His three books on Atlantic salmon flies and fishing, and his book on streamers all exhibit a magnificent collection of flies from some of the most noteworthy tyers of his era. In this regard he must have been an extremely prolific correspondent as there was no "internet" during most of those days. Every book he wrote was a masterpiece of information on flies, fishing, as well as fly fishermen and fly tyers.

I have so often met ardent anglers throwing flies of such wondrous deformity,... (Lt.-Col. John Henry Hale, 1863 - 1950)
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-06-2010, 06:12 PM
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Col. Bates' daughter - Pamela Bates Richards put the final touches & had his last book: Fishing Atlantic Salmon - The Flies and the Patterns published after his passing. The color plates in the book are great. I met Ms. Richards at a United Fly Tyers meeting a number of years ago - what a wonderful & knowledgeable person.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-17-2010, 01:08 PM
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History too

What I found facinating was that Bates spanned the link from Canada to the PNW. Here we see in 1970, extensive detailing of spey flies, and much that has been "Re-discovered" rather than invented. If we combine this with Trey Combs The steelhead trout, which discusses the first people to fish for steelhead and their patterns, and even goes into what became the predecessor of Skagit casting, it deepens our knowledge of the flow of history.

I found Bates emminently readable and VERY applicable to both salmon and steelhead. Readers may be surprised to find that things they took for granted as invented in recent times, actually trace from Scotland. The fly histories found in bates are a treasure. More primary and secondary sourcing than most other books. It is also interesting to see dressings in Bates conflict with later books, which shows how a simple dressing error or modification can catch on, and the original is lost in time.

Our steelhead fishing was rooted in the world of the Atlantic Salmon. It is a facinating walk back through the decades and across our continent and over the sea to trace those roots.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2010, 12:31 AM
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Eric and Bruce,

I agree completely with both of you. This is one of the reasons I often tell folks they ought to seek out, read, and buy the books by Col. Bates. His research was excellent and the information contained in his books (with the exception of his disdain for 2-handed rods) is useful to anyone interested in becoming a better fly tyer or atlantic salmon or steelhead fisher. The amount of time Col. Bates spent doing his research and contacting tyers for flies is phenomemal. Too bad there isn't a Col. Bates doing this today for if there were, a lot of the "changed pattern dressings" would not occur.

In addition to Col. Bates' books, I've also often recommended folks go further back and pick up books (and actually read them) that were written by the masters of atlantic salmon fishing and flies in the 1800's and early 1900's because those books are full of very useful information. Just one example comes to mind, that of Kelson's tome on salmon flies. Most folks wrongly assume it is nothing more than a book of salmon fly patterns and directions of how to tie them without a vise, nothing could be farther from the truth. His book is full of superb information of salmon fishing that is directly applicable to steelhead fishing.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2010, 03:26 PM
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Col. Bates's Books

Joseph Bates has been my favorite author and reference for salmon flies and streamer fly tying. I have enjoyed his books for many years. They also contain very useful information in reguards to fishing technique and presentation. For me his books have been a valuable resource that I would not want to be without.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-22-2010, 06:04 PM
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Great reviews. I ordered my first book by Col. Joseph Bates this past weekend based on the opinions in this thread.


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-22-2010, 07:06 PM
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Bates' Books

My copy of Atlantic Salmon Flies and Fishing, (1970) is very well read indeed. My copy was purchased about '76, soon after I began chasing steel on the fly. Some patterns here, for instance GP (with tying instructions from Esmond Drury the originator} and the Bomber have become standard steelhead offerings, likely largely due to Bates's book.
Our friends in NB will likely find the history of Miramichi patterns and their creators fascinating; the sections on presentation etc. are just as applicable now as then, I suspect.
Bates' disdain for the two hander is understandable considering the weight of the rods then available, not to mention Lee Wulff's considerable influence on anadromous anglers of the period.
In short, the 1970 opus is still well worth acquiring if you can find one. I'm looking forward to checking out the posthumous offering discussed in this thread.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-23-2010, 10:35 PM
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I strongly suspect that Bates and Wulff had such disdain for 2-handers for two main reasons: 1) the best cane rods were made in North America at that time and North American rod makers didn't make 2-handers; and 2) neither knew how to make a spey cast of any sort because they were overhand single-hand casters. And as any one here on the site can attest who was a good single-hand overhead caster before trying spey casting, spey casting is different and requires different technique than single-hand overhead casting. Therefore, it was not surprising to me that both of these great anglers disdained 2-handers as being too long, too heavy, too clumsy, and overkill.

Keep in mind that althought Bates loved the married wing flies in his collection and actively sought out more, he didn't fish them. He often wrote about how "dead in the water and stiff the wing is on married feather wing flies". Anyone who has ever fished a married wing fly knows that the wing is anything but stiff and dead when in the water on a swing.

Nonetheless, Col. Bates and Lee Wulff wrote lots of much value to anglers and deserve their place in the annals of the sport.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2010, 12:22 PM
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Just an example of what is in this book.

Modern emergence of tube-flies is traced to Mrs. Winnie Morawski of Charles Playfair Tackle Company of Aberdeen Scotland around 1945. First used turkey wing quills with the pith removed and mounted trebles in the rear. A visiting doctor suggested surgical tubing...

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