Friday, November 8, 2013

50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish - Authorized Book Review

I just deleted 3 paragraphs about the negative experiences my friends and I had fly fishing tailwaters for the first time.  Those being locating lodging, places to dine, etc.  This was the days before the internet.  When you had to ask an employee at the local bookstore to order a fly fishing book you saw in American Angler or such other publications.  Word of mouth was the way to go when locating a hotel, a certain spot on a river, or how the heck to get there and even where to park without getting a ticket.

Gazetteers were even a bit hard to locate.  I remember when Walmart started carrying them.  You would usually have to locate a local fishing map of the tailwaters at convenience stores, local fly shops and bait shops.  Around my area, there just weren't any fly shops around Beaver Dam - the Dam Store as what you need and you can get information there too.  But even around the Norfork of the White River, there was I think one fly shop (when I moved to AR back in 1990).

I'll tell you this much, I could've used a book such as 50 Best Tailwaters by Terry and Wendy Gunn.  I would say that it is "spot on" when it comes to the description of services located near the tailwaters - at least in my neck of the woods.  Let's face it, we all can use a book like this one.  Why is that?  Well, I wrote several paragraphs of trips my friends and I made to tailwaters here in the Ozarks.  In reality, it's exciting to me - probably not to you.  There are books out there such as "50 Places to Fly Fish Before You Die", "Why I Fly Fish", "Angling Baja - One man's fly fishing journey through the surf.".  These are titles that either provide descriptions of why you should fly fish here or there.  Titles such as these describe experiences.  Those of which were perhaps, life changing.  I could bore you with the details of the outings I've had on tailwaters but it would bore you.  Reading these books could be fulfilling but if only for a little while.  You've got to get out there and make your own life changing events.

Why do I do into such detail about tailwaters?  We want to maximize the opportunity we have to enjoy those events in life that make us who we are or those experiences that can change us.  "Tailwaters are the salvation of fly fishing for trout . . . " - Lefty Kreh  "Tailwaters have changed the way we live our lives, as well as the way we fly fish.  Our experiences catching a dozen trout in December would be out of the question if not for the experience of tailwaters." - Terry Gunn

50 Best Tailwaters by Terry and Wendy Gunn . . . . The first book to look at the very best tailwater fisheries across the U.S. and Canada, from Terry & Wendy Gunn - fly-fishing icons, and owners and operators of Lees Ferry Anglers, on the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam. Each chapter is written by an expert outfitter or guide for their featured tailwater chapter, including contributions from such seminal figures in the sport as Pat Dorsey, Craig Mathews, Mike Lawson, Tim Linehan, and others. Detailed GIS maps accompany each tailwater, and suggestions for gear, lodging, dining, and more are highlighted. Seasonal hatch charts are included where appropriate, and over 200 four-color location photographs appear throughout.

I like to keep things simple.  Complicating plans or trying to pack too many things into a vacation can stress me out.  Therefore, my wife and I will purchase Frommer's Travel Guides.  Such as for San Francisco, San Antonio, Austin, Vancouver, etc.  My wife has been to Europe, South America, island hopping in the Caribbean, Sweden . . . on and on . . .  I've learned from the best (the wife) about organizing for a trip.  Books provide a quick reference - an informative reference.  Especially, when information is provided by those that live and work in the area and on the tailwaters.

In comparison to those other tailwaters books that I've read, this is the most comprehensive.  The layout of each region and chapter is very user friendly.  Nothing wedged into the midde of the book.  No handcrafted maps and drawings.  Straight forward information. You are going to be getting a lot of information for each tailwater by those boots have been wading in these streams a long time - local experts who are contributing authors.  Just some of the information found will be, "where to, how to, what flies, best times of year, tips", etc.

Here is the book video promo.

The tailwaters are divided into regions.  I'm proud to say that at least 3 of the tailwaters in Arkansas are listed!  Many other streams such as Lees Ferry, Big Gunpowder Falls, and the Hiwasse River are listed.  Not only will you will find color photos of the streams, and a few fish but also of the contributing authors - those folks who guide and fish on the streams.  Maps provide locations of parking, campgrounds, boat ramps, RV parking, fly shops, wading points, bank access and roads.  From steelhead fishing, chasing a few trout to landing a few smallmouth in-between - regulations, hatches, tactics, tackle, and rigging tips will be provided for each tailwater.  Where was this book when I needed it?  I've had to figure things out the hard way.

"Tailwater trout fishing is a very important component in the North America fly fishing scene. Just looking back at my best fishing this summer, all my destinations were tailwaters; the Beaverhead in Montana, the Taylor in Colorado, the West Branch of the Delaware in New York and the Deschutes River in Oregon. Terry and Wendy Gunn have now cataloged the best tailwaters with appropriate information that will enhance every reader’s fly fishing experience. 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish may never leave my tackle bag." -  Brian O’Keefe, Cofounder, Catch magazine

Reading blogs is exciting but you need to use this book and go make your own life changing events.  Go make a bucket list.  This book helps to simplify the process.  Take the stress out of planning while you can do most of your research at home.  Use this book to take the stress out of wondering if you are doing things to right way or if you have the proper flies to match the hatch.  Prior to the trip, you will know which rods and lines to pack.  Why not tie your own custom patterns with those slight variations you know will land you the big boy.  Take some of that "worry" out of your trip.  When I spend time to travel a long ways to relax on the tailwaters, the one thing that drives me crazy the most is wading out into the stream and feel like I'm slugging it out with the fish - or wishing I knew the waters a lot better.  After all, when you plan that amazing trip, why not do it while utilizing the information given to you by reliable sources . . . fellow fly fishers who know what it takes to put the feeling of satisfaction and confidence into an proper outing on those amazing tailwaters.

Terry and Wendy Gunn

As of 11/8/13, the book is not yet available in print and can be back ordered.

Stonefly Press -

50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish -

My thanks to Stonefly Press for approaching me about the opportunity to do a book review.  My first - if you don't count that warmwater book I'm always raving about, lol.


  1. First off, thanks for the heads up on my link on your page. Appreciate it. Good work on the review of this new book. I am sure that it is going to be a great asset to those that fish the Tailwaters across our country. Perhaps, soon, I will have a chance to peruse it's pages and great information.

  2. Thanks for the review of the book, sounds like a good resource. Sometime you may one to check out a book I really have enjoyed and use as a guide as I travel: "So Many Fish, So Little Time" by Mark Williams. I have really enjoyed that one.