Desert Island Steelhead Books [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Desert Island Steelhead Books

01-02-2002, 03:19 PM
The other post got me thinking about books on steelheading and which ones would make my top three. Curious as to what others would list.

I actually couldn't limit myself to three so I expanded the list to four.

Must Reads
* Steelhead Flyfishing - Trey Combs
* Steelhead and the Floating Line - Bob Arnold
* Seasons of a Fisherman - Roderick Haig-Brown
* The River Why - David James Duncan

Honorable Mentions
* A River Never Sleeps - R. Haig-Brown
* Steelhead Water - Bob Arnold
* One Man's Steelhead Shangi-La - Ralph Wahl

01-02-2002, 04:29 PM
No list is complete without Steve Raymond's "Steelhead Country". Steve is one of our finest living writers.

01-02-2002, 07:52 PM
I think you have hit on the best of ones, most of which I have. Would have to put the Trey Coombs books on top though for overall techincal steelhead information.

The Bob Arnold book "Steelhead & the Floating Line" is pretty good.

Some one mentioned on the board that the Bill Mcmillan book "Dry Fly Steelhead" is very good but is out of print now. I have never seen it. Would like to get my hands on that one for a reasonable price.

Another great book every serious steelhead and atlantic salmon fly fishermam should read is "Greased Line Fising for Salmon {and Steelhead}" by Jock Scott, forward by Bill Mcmillan, Copywright 1982. This book was originally issued in the 1970s. This is a classic, Trey Combs continually quotes from this book in his second book Steelhead Fly Fishing. Mr. A.H.E. Wood should probably be anointed as the founder of the bible for greased line fishing wet fly methods. He and Jock Scott and english fishing writer and salmon expert did not believe the atlantic salmon would take them. Lee Wullf went over there and proved that salmon could be taken on dry flies on their home river, The Dee I think.

Get a hold of this book if you can, try Frank Amato publications.

The R.H. Brown book "The Master and His Fish" has some outstanding steelhead chapters within it. 1981, University of Washington Press. This was also a book that grew my passion for steelhead. Some great general stores and technical information. Other chapters are on trout and salmon. I highly recommend this one also.

Several of the Ernie Schwiebert books "The Complete Schwiebert" amd "A river for Christmas" also have some great steelhead and salmon stores along with trout fishing stories. Note these are all based on his actual fishing experiences so there is a lot general and technical knowledge imparted in addition to just great prose.

If any one knows where I can find the Bill Mcmillan book please advise.

01-02-2002, 09:04 PM
The book you're looking for is titled "Dry Line Steelhead and Other Subjects". Mine is signed by Bill and I wouldn't give it up for anything. I did a quick internet search and the only one I could find available is the fancy, limited edition, hardbound version with a tipped in fly tied by Bill. $375.00!!!

is the URL.


01-02-2002, 09:14 PM
Wow, for $ 375 it must be some book :whoa: :whoa:

How many were printed ?

But I would not pay that for any fly fishing book unless I was a serious collector.

Why hasn't Mr. McMillan witten any other books lately?

Thanks for the information.

01-02-2002, 09:44 PM
Great recommendations; the books mentioned above that I already have are top notch and the ones that I haven't yet read I will put on my short list of books to get.

I put my name in with Amazon for McMillan's book. They have a rare book service. It came up but they were asking for well over $375 for the used book, in the 400's as I recall. I had to pass on the opportunity for financial reasons. The signed copy with fly sounds pretty good , a great find for a collector.

This is not a steelhead only book but I would put Joseph Bate's Fishing Atlantic Salmon up there with the best. The account of Bate's exchanges (fly swaps!) with Syd Glasso and color plates showing these flies are an incredible tribute to a great contemporary steelhead angler and fly tyer from the humble town of Forks WA.

01-02-2002, 10:03 PM
Yes I have heard the Bates book on Atlantic Salmon is great. Is it still available at a reasonable price ?

I have his book "Streamers & Bucktails - The Big Fish Flies" copyright 1979, which is very good and has which is very good. Covers all saltwater and freshwater streamers bass, trout etc.., like the cover, has a big steelhead on the cover with what looks like an Atlantic Salmon fly in its mouth. I guess he liked steelhead.

I wonder how much this book is worth ? Guess I should take better care of these books, I may be able to cash in retire on some of them :hehe:

Reminds me I have to get some good streamer hooks and tie some streamers in the next few months. Got to do some Supervisors, Gray and Black ghosts

01-02-2002, 10:19 PM
Agree with the original string of books with, perhaps, a couple of additions (ya, this will get longer than 3, then to 4,then to...).

Trey also has a book which is more 'history' in nature calleded "Steelhead Fly fishing" which is a wonderful read in it's own right.

Another one that sets by my side is a paper back by John Veniard/drawings by Donald Downs called "Fly-Tying Problems and Their Answers." So you've screwed up, you have not a clue, so ... blah and blah. These two guys cover the "what went wrong" and how to do it right. Cheap book, Expensive answers.
Own it.

01-02-2002, 10:34 PM
Amazon does have a link for the limited edition McMillan book, #101 out of the 200 printed. It's $125.00

01-03-2002, 12:54 AM
I was after Bill's book for years and even contacted some sources that would have had a good chance to find me a copy and even they couldnt. A year or so ago, I found a copy on Ebay. I paid $5 plus S&H. :razz: ;)

I found a copy on of Wahl's Come Wade the River for $30. You just gotta keep your eye open.

Tonight I just picked up a copy of the released Tales of Freshwater Angling by Zane Grey. I saw it, grabbed it and flipped right to the section on Deer Creek. There were many photos of Deer Creek from the turn of the last century and I just could not pass that up.

Okey dokey, my list.

1) Steelhead Water...I cut my teath on this book and Arnold's writing style is so intresting, so informative and I love his sense of humor. This is my all time favorite book as I've read it probally ten times and some chapters even more. Steelhead and the Floating Line is a good book and I enjoyed it but it is not nearly the quality of Steelhead Water. Steelhead Water was written over many many years and Steelhead and the Floating Line was written in less then the year.

2)Steelhead Flyfishing...It is the encylcopedia of our sport. I have a couple minor complaints about the book but the photographs, the artwork, the history, the flies etc. etc. etc. is absolutely amazing!!

3)Steelhead Country...Steve Raymond is the most underrated author of our time. He has managed to collect the essence of the sport and what it means to us like no other author. Plus his ability to describe experiences, scenes, fish, etc. etc. is unmatched.

Am I limited to 3??? :( :(

01-03-2002, 07:04 PM
Thanks for the input guys has given me some new books to put on my list.

By the way over the years I have picked up some great buys on fly fishing books at the Borders and Barnes and Noble discount tables within these stores. It seems us fly fishers are still in the minority in many areas, so depending upon your area you can pick up some good buys at local book stores.

Just need to keep checking their discount tables every couple of weeks or so, you never know what deals will you find.

I have picked up books from Lee Wulff, Nick Lyons, and others at these tables.

Good hunting !

01-05-2002, 01:51 PM
Yeah, Combs' book would be right up there at the top of my list, too. Great combo of useful information and good reading. But for sheer reading enjoyment, anything by Russel Chatham or Thom McGuane. Those two guys write about fishing in completely unique ways, and are my favorite outdoor writers. They mix fly fishing with life, humor and a true literary esthetic that stands head and shoulders above most "fishin' writin'." Jim Harrison is good, too, but he hasn't written much about steelhead. From Chatham, I would take The Angler's Coast or Dark Waters--both are my absolute favorite reads, and I probably read all or part of them several times a year. McGuane is one small step down, but his fishing essays are really quite good. And who could forget the 2002 Sage catalog...
(That's a joke, for anyone who knows me.) Any other Chatham fans out there?



01-05-2002, 01:56 PM
Yes, agree Russell Chatham is very good I have a few of his.

01-07-2002, 06:10 PM
In my modest opinion, I think that if you spey for steelies, the one book that will interest you the most is Fine and Far Off by Jock Scot. I read this book over and over and as someone else has said everything old is new again, as can be seen from this book. He talks about rods, lines, flies, and speycasting techniques and fishing techniques. Even though it was written for atlantics I feel that it is one of the more relevent books out there.