Trout are frustrating: They’re finicky about what they eat, they spook easily, and they’ll turn off with seemingly no rhyme or reason. All of that, of course, is largely why they’re stupid-fun to catch—they’re challenging. Fortunately, scores of fly-fishing writers have devoted their careers to decoding the mysteries of the fish. We’ve rounded up four must-read books that do good work in making sense of the wiley trout.
All you need to know. Amazon
Since it was first published in 1938, Trout by Ray Bergman has become a bible for anglers, owing to its clear, authoritative descriptions of trout and how to catch them, whether with dry flies, old-school wet flies, streamers, bucktails, or nymphs. Bergman is as credentialed as they come, having served as Outdoor Life’s fishing editor for more than 25 years. His no-nonsense, almost analytical writing gets to the point and will surely get you on fish.
For when your trout and about. Amazon
With The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide, Tom Rosenbauer wrote one of the most practical and easiest to understand books on fly-fishing. (We’ve excluded it from this list because, though chock full of hard-won trout wisdom; it also covers plenty of non-trout species.) The Orvis Guide to Prospecting for Trout is no less excellent. It details how to troubleshoot for trout when there’s no hatch to match—the sort of fishing separates the newbies from the vets. To up your odds of success, Rosenbauer, with the help of illustrations and color photos, details the finer points of reading water, trout feeding habits, and how to fish nymphs, streamers, and more.
Let this book guide you. Amazon
Fishing Through the Apocalypse by Matthew L. Miller is light on tips and tactics but full of interesting insights into fish, and trout in particular. Miller unpacks the future of fish and, in the process, unpacks how mutant banana trout became prominent and how lake trout overran Yellowstone Lake, among other modern phenomena. In doing so, he grapples with the state of trout and why conserving native fish has proved such a tall order, driving home why protecting public streams is more important now than ever before.
Tips to take you to the trouter limits. Amazon
Ray Bergman’s Trout is great, in part, because of its paragraph upon paragraph of unbroken, lucid prose. Trout Tips by Kirk Deeter, on the other hand, is organized in bulleted, skimmable sections, e.g, “It’s Okay (Encouraged by Some) to Watch Your Loops” and “Three Tricks to Tame the Wind.” Newbies and experienced anglers alike will learn tons of handy tips, many of which come straight from Trout Unlimited members around the country. It’s small trim size also means that you can stash it in your fly vest for lulls between the action.