Review of Dick Brown's 2nd Edition of "Bonefish Fly Patterns." - Spey Pages
 
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-01-2011, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Review of Dick Brown's 2nd Edition of "Bonefish Fly Patterns."

"When Dick Brown asked me to provide a review of his revised edition of Bonefish Fly Patterns, published by Lyons Press because he knew I had tied 130 of the 150 patterns in his first publishing I said I would…because I did treasure that book. He said to me, “Now, you know , it does not have to be all positive, it’s a review and you should not hesitate to state any negatives you feel you should.” Words to that effect. I said, “ Ah, sure, ok.” Saying to myself with a moan…great, thanks.

The book was delivered as promised from the publisher, and I proceeded to grease my “special” slimy pen ready to do any surgical work that I though I should do. After all, isn’t that what is expected of a review or critique. As I opened the package, to a book about the same size as the first edition (about ˝ inch wider) I was immediately struck by the cover. A photograph, pale blue and greens, of a fly fisherman landing a bone (I assume it is of Dick) on a tropical flat. Ok….nice… and different from the original cover photo which sported an assortment of flies on a dark background. The pages are the same glossy high-end paper as the first but I was looking for differences and improvements. So I started digging in. In all honesty, it is hard for me to look at flies with a critical eye (unless clearly inferior tying), simply because, for me, it is like looking at a variety of old English shotguns and loving all of them. But this was not about the flies themselves but what they were for and who tied them and why.

The purpose of the new volume was to basically update the state of affairs with bonefish flies and the new ones the author found, including new materials in construction which have occurred during the last 15 years since the first edition. But there is more. The original was not your usual fly tying book, that is, a book with the fly, a list of material, and the species of fish it targeted. It is unique in that it combines fly tying and flyfishing for a single species. It adds cogent information along with the usual information about the fly itself. The author himself in the Preface to the new volume best summarizes what he has done :

“This revised edition of Bonefish Fly Patterns
contains forty-seven new flies
that were not in the original 1996 edition.
Some are recent patterns created by
new flats anglers with fresh, inquisitive eyes—
like Victor Trodella’s killer Ghost tailing fly and
Omeko Glinton’s Meko Special. Others like
Eric Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp, Vic Gaspeny’s
Threadhead, Rick Simonsen’s Simram,
and Patrick Dorsy’s Kwan and Bone Slappa
are creations of skilled flats veterans willing
to pass along the exact recipes of go-to
favorites they’ve relied on for winning tournaments.
Still others are well-known classics
that I simply could not get into the original
book for one reason or another—like the Horror
and the Mini-Puff, which have produced
on flats around the world for decades. A few
new creations, like the Toad and the Slinky
Toad, were developed in response to the significant
findings of recent bonefish feeding
studies that have established the importance
of newly discovered prey forms in the diet of
Florida and Bahamian bonefish—especially
the gulf toadfish. Four—the Bastard Crab, Big
Ugly, Merkwan, and Bunny Crab—come from
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s Aaron Adams, who
is both a marine research scientist and an
avid angler. Finally, several new entries, like
the Skok/Boyle Reverend Laing fly, the Bevin’s
Bully Special, and Trodella’s Ghost, were
driven by new tying materials and new uses
of existing materials, which have enabled tiers
to find novel solutions to old bonefish challenges
like flash intensity and splash impact. “



Thankfully, the photographs of the flies are in color as they were in the original and the same size….not overwhelming and leaving space to explain everything the author and the tier knows about the fly and its use. There is the usual upgrading in print size and boldness, including the use of color printing to enhance emphasis. The table of contents is broken down in the same sequence and categories as the original. The Introduction is simply an update. The real importance of the update is inclusion of 47 additional flies not profiled in the original edition. The historical, as well as the new and innovative, are portrayed. There is continued emphasis of the two most important factors in constructing a bonefish fly…..i.e. entry impact or splash factor, and sink rate. There is nothing new about that and Dick leaves no stone unturned when it comes to describing the importance of those factors. Little things struck me, for example, his chart in “fly characteristics” is organized in a better format than the original. He adds locations (Florida and Bahamas) in the chart on “What Bonefish eat”, and (“prefer”). Photographs of certain matters are expanded and upgraded….and more color photos, which I found important as a fly tier. No more college text book black and whites.

Naturally, Dick concedes, that the book does not contain every pattern there is. Something we all know, and why would anyone expect it too. The so called “secret files” or “special flies” will always remain as such. Maybe Dick can get those in the next edition, using the Don Corleone approach. There will always be secret flies, and this compilation of and timely update is first class and keeps us informed about the trends and new developments. But, not to disappoint the reader, he has included several such “secret flies”. One called the “Lap Dancer”, created by Mark Tomchin, a clouser type design, where Dick was finally able to obtain it from the tiers estate . He tells us how in the “anecdotes” section on the fly page. Or the ‘Threadhead” ,a fly used to win, and place several times, in the Islamorada Fly Bonefish Tornament . Why would the creator ever share THAT fly? Dick tells us in his usual no nonsense style, “Or why most Florida Keys guides would rather give you the ignition keys to their 4x4 pickup truck than to show you the new fly they’ve got secreted away for the next big tournament. It took me fifteen years get Vic Gaspeny’s Threadhead for the book”.

There is the usual stuff that made this book a bible (sorry for using that over used word for describing a book but it is still the best one word description) in the first place. Flies tied by the original creators have always made this book stand apart from the others. It was hard work to gather them. Once you take that route you just cannot put in one that is tied by another as a copy of the original. You’re committed and you go on a wing and a prayer that it will work out. As a side note, seeing a fly by Steve Huff was no easy matter as Huff does not send them out freely nor is he a fan of interviews. If you want to find the new 47 you will have to hunt them down in the body of the fly section by comparing with the first edition. For me it was easy…I could do it without comparing, but for the new owner of this work…so what…it is all there in alphabetical order. There is no list and I will not list the new flies here

In addition to devoting a page for each fly, as was the original, there is the usual additional information such as “Fishing Notes” and “Prey Notes” and “Location Notes”. You will also find subtle updating in those writings. It is the last several chapters that put it all together. For Example, table 3.2 for “Flies for the Bahamas” is now easier to read though since the flies are listed in column format, and not jumbled up in black and white print in long sentence format….”Now Where did I see that fly name…I can’t find it.” The flies portrayed in the location fly boxes are now in color…thank God. Black and white bonefish flies…or any flies are a puzzling decision in my opinion.

Well, I had to keep in mind that this was an update after 15 years and a revised edition to an existing book. I have to say that the crux of the book is the updated flies and material (which now screws up my glass wall plaque of the 130 flies I tied). I am sorry, but I am having a hard time finding discernable negative things, and I tried, but remember, I was comparing it to the original. Dick has accomplished what he had to do to keep the volume relevant and up with the times. Letting that book sit would have been a disaster to the subject. The question most people will ask is,” do I need it if I have the original ?”. I have to say that I did, but I am a fly tying nut. But have had only 3 trips to the tropics for bonefish and other species. Dick has stated the material in a simple and brief format but not missing anything. The book is visually addictive, and is short on complications. There is no long winded mythological advise from people who are legends in their own mind. It is not complicated with theory and “show off”. One of my personal gripes about fly fishing advice. I always go back thinking how simple it was when my father taught me with the minimalist equipment. It is not about Black holes, neutron stars, string theory and quantum mechanics….Dick certainly knows about this by writing that book and this revised edition. In my opinion he has done it “Harry Truman style”, and done it in only 285 pages. It is based on experience and painstaking research……and the hard work that goes along with it. Perfect for me.

One Negative thing I noticed is this….In the next edition I would advise Dick to smile in the photograph on the flap of the rear cover..For God’s sake! It should not be a high school football photograph (wink). I suppose Dick could save that serious look for trying to muscle some of the ‘secret Flies”…but there is no question, smile or not, that he is serious about this subject matter and has clearly told us why."

John Morin
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-01-2011, 02:15 PM
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Awesome review, well written.

Reviewing your review, maybe you should have listed the publisher and the new book price.

Just my 2 cents.

Borderfly is going to buy a copy no matter.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-01-2011, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, the publisher is Lyons Press...it's in the second line of the review. I would have put the price, but did not want to cross any lines on board here. Thank you for the compliment.

John Morin
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-05-2011, 10:35 AM
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Thought I would add a little to John's kind words.

Several things are new in the book. First off, I added 47 patterns in the new edition, beyond the 150 in the original. Most of the flies I added are new patterns or closely held secret patterns that have not been seen or fished by many anglers. Some were created by new flats anglers with fresh, inquisitive eyes—like Victor Trodella who developed the killer Ghost tailing fly and Omeko Glinton who gave birth to the Meko Special. Others like Mark Tomchin’s Lap Dancer, Eric Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp, Vic Gaspeny’s Threadhead, Rick Simonsen’s Simram, and Patrick Dorsy’s Kwan and Bone Slappa are creations of skilled flats veterans willing to pass along the exact recipes of go-to favorites they’ve relied on for taking big fish and/or winning tournaments for years.
The Threadhead is also an example of just how tightly guarded some patterns become. Vic Gaspeny first tied it and threw it in 1985, and he and tournament partner Richard Stanczyk (owner of Islamorada’s Bud N’ Mary’s) won or placed in many Keys tournaments for over two decades with it, as well as scoring Vic’s world record 14lb 6oz fish. We talked about it many times over that period but it took me 18 years to pry the exact recipe and details out of him!
A few of the new creations, like the Toad and the Slinky Toad, were developed in response to significant research findings in recent feeding studies that established the importance of newly discovered prey forms in the diet of Florida and Bahamian bonefish—especially the gulf toadfish. Four of them—the Bastard Crab, Big Ugly, Merkwan, and Bunny Crab—come from a true marine biology researcher, Aaron Adams, who is both a marine research scientist and an avid angler (and also director of the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust).
A couple of the additions were tried and true classics I left out of the first edition—like Pete Perinchief’s Horror and Nat Ragland’s venerable variant of his Puff permit killer, the Mini-Puff. I guess I felt like they were so common they didn’t need to be documented (and they were described in my original edition of my first book, Fly Fishing for Bonefish. But in retrospect, both flies are still very productive around the world, and I had to get them into this new edition of the book.

Finally, several new entries, like the Skok/Boyle collaboration, the Reverend Laing fly, Bevin’s Bully Special, and Trodella’s Ghost, were driven—at least in part—by new tying materials or novel uses of existing materials, which have enabled tiers to find novel solutions to old bonefish challenges like flash intensity, coloration, translucency, and splash impact.
But new patterns are only part of what I added to the book. I also heavily updated the sections suggesting flies for different destinations, the chapter on sources for fly patterns and materials, and the materials glossary. And I virtually rewrote the chapter on design alternatives and trends to capture the profusion of exciting new techniques and discoveries that today’s tiers are incorporating in flies to better induce that magic moment when a bonefish strikes. Here are a few examples:
• Development of soft-landing, reverse-splayed carapaces of wool and hair to enable crabs to land quietly and sink fast;
• Use of trailing-leg designs for better imitation of the paddling movements of swimming crabs;
• Realistic exploration of rear-facing postures in patterns to suggest the aggressive/defensive stances of attacked prey;
• Improved balancing of weight versus mass and density of materials to refine control of splashdown and sink rate;
• Creative use of new reflective materials to increase control of flash in patterns;
• Implementation of novel dubbing techniques to soften splash profiles and better display prey translucency;
• And—perhaps most exciting of all—the cascade of incredibly innovative methods for incorporating better triggering elements in fly patterns to improve hook-up rates on the water.

If anyone has questions about the book or bonefishing in general, I'd be happy to try to answer them.

Dick
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