Dana I'm glad you mentioned this book of Bob's.
I'm fortunate to have Bob as a very good friend. This book STEELHEAD WATER is full great info that would help someone new to steelhead fly fishing immensely. Bob has written another little, and even more underrated, gem, STEELHEAD FISHING AND THE FLOATING LINE. It is loaded with solid info on using a floating line with wet, dry, and skating flies. Both of these books were published by Frank Amato Publications.
Unfortunately, Bob has not fished for steelhead since July 2001 when we fished the NF Stilly for Deer Creek fish. Bob hooked and landed a nice bright Deer Creek hen about 20 minutes after we started fishing. And as usual, I always let him fish first and then I'd follow him through the run because I'm able to cast farther than him. Anyhow, upon landing the fish, he cut off his fly, reeled in his line, walked to the beach, and stopped to tell me this was going to be his last time fishing for steelhead and that I should stop by his place near Stanwood on my way home.
When I stopped his house on my way home, he told me because the runs were so reduced from what they used to be, he wasn't going to fish for steelhead any longer in order to keep from getting angry and upset over the lack of fish. He has amused himself with fishing for stocked trout in the lake his house sits on with powerbait and he will at times take his little rowboat out on the lake with an electric trolling motor to fish for bass with a bait caster and bass plugs. It is a great understatement to say that I miss fishing with him.
By the way, Sam was a great dog. And Bob's wife liked Sam every bit as much as Bob did. Bob and his wife replaced Sam with a brother and sister pair of labs 11 years ago after they had to put Sam down due to old-age problems he developed.
Bob calls himself a "pedestrian fly tyer", which is a very accurate description. Other than his SPADE, which has a following amongst experienced steelhead fishers for low-water, difficult conditions, his other flies are virtually unknown. And nearly all the other flies he tied for himself were little more than a couple of tips of marabou tied top and bottom on the front of the hook. No body, no hackle, just the hook providing a body of sorts. He preferred to tie these simple, lash the marabou on the hook flies on Alec Jackson nickel spey hooks.