Friday, September 2, 2016

Mike Valla's "Tying and Fishing Bucktails and Other Hairwings; Atlantic Salmon Flies to Steelhead Flies"

Last winter, my friend Mike Valla approached me about tying a dozen or so atlantic salmon flies for his next book which was to be about, initially, hairwing trout flies.  The more he thought about the scope of the book, he related to me, the more he felt he should broaden the scope of the book to include hairwings for atlantic salmon, steelhead and even saltwater species.  Mike's other books, published by Stackpole, were visually stimulating and thoughtfully written, so I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the project, which has just been delivered to booksellers.  The cover:

I really got bitten by the hairwing "bug" (pun intended), and dove into the project, ultimately tying more than 60 flies for the atlantic salmon section.  Mike was very appreciative:

Dave McNeese tied the steelhead flies for that section, and other fine tyers contributed flies as well:

The table of contents reveals the depth of the book:

Mike presents a well-documented historical perspective on hairwings, which I really appreciate.  There are so many "how to tie it" and/or catalogs of dressings out there that pay scant, if any, attention to the roots of a given fly or fly style.

Mike did a wonderful job of presenting step-by-step instructions for many of the trout patterns, as well as photographing the steps Dave McNeese and myself take to tie one of our flies:

There are more than 500 hairwing dressings presented with killer photographs and detailed patterns:

I am especially appreciative of the way Mike dealt with my flies, and my passion for atlantic salmon fishing and fly tying.  His photographs of my flies are WAY better than the flies themselves!

My old friend Adriano Manocchia even created a painting for the book, which features one of my favorite old salmon books, and a Celtic Beauty in the foreground:

Even veteran tyers are likely to find new patterns in the book, especially in Mike's trout section, and I believe that anyone starting out fishing and tying hairwings will benefit incredibly from the book.  There are great sections on fishing hairwings in different settings, all based on Mike's deep experience fishing them.

Stackpole has a long history of producing beautiful, well-laid out sporting books.  However, they were bought out during the process of writing the book.  None of us involved are particularly pleased that the new company brought the book out in soft-cover on not-really-the-finest paper stock, but the content is there and it is solid.  The work that Mike put into this book is evident everywhere; kudos to him for a job well done. should buy the book.  Barnes and Noble and Amazon have it and are shipping it now.



  1. I'll swing by (get it?!?) B&N on my way home to snag (Get it, again?!?) my copy. Hope you're well Gary, long time no speak!

  2. Eunan, you punster, you! I'm hanging in there, major hip issues, but we keep going! Hope you enjoy the book, and really hope all is well with you, too!

  3. Once again, great flies. You are turly a great fly tier!


    1. I'll take that as a hell of a compliment coming from you, Rich!

  4. This looks great. I can't wait to read it, but I'm going to save it until the fishing season is over - not long enough from now I'm afraid.

  5. Thanks, Brad, and I'm doing the same with your book, "Closing the Season", which I'm sure will evoke many, many memories.