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PCfishesAugust 8th, 2008, 8:31 am
John Carrier

Posts: 3
Greetings; I am looking for recommendations for books to include in bibliography and assigned readings for a college level science course on fly fishing.

Topics of interest are:
Entomology (of course)
Ichthyology (of course)
composites (especially graphite/fiberglass/boron)
chemistry (especially adhesives, polymers - especially monofilament)
ground water and surface water chemistry
stream habitat management

Articles related to current environmental and fisheries management issues

Also interested in fly fishing literature such as by Isaac Walton, and Norman Maclean.

Videos on DVD also of interest.

Please email me your suggestions:
- -
I'm for hire! Fly fishing guiding, fly fishing lessons, fly tying.
Email me, if you would like to set a date to go fishing sometime.
MartinlfAugust 8th, 2008, 9:27 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
I had considered teaching a first-year course on the art and science of flyfishing at one time, but other things took precedence. For field entomology at a basic level the Caucci instant mayfly identification booklet might be helpful, though it would require some updating on reclassification of some bugs. If you are interested, you should contact Al directly, as I understand from contacts at the Delaware River Club he's the only person who might know how to get enough of these together for a class at this time. Knopp and Cormier's Mayflies is more detailed, though it too is not accurate in every small detail. I like Nick Lyons' Full Creel for an anthology of his works, which as a teacher of Literature, I think are very good. If this is a general education course, it may be helpful to limit topics some. As you know, there are so many aspects to the sport, and students may feel overwhelmed. But you know your students best.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TaxonAugust 8th, 2008, 9:30 am
Site Editor
Royse City, TX

Posts: 1350
Pastor John Carrier-

In my opinion, with regard to scientific approach to the entomology aspect of flyfishing, the book Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty has been (and continues to be) without equal.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
TroutnutAugust 8th, 2008, 1:41 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
I second Taxon's recommendation. I don't own that book but I've borrowed it from the library and it's a good one for a broad introduction to aquatic entomology with the right amount of detail to be a component of a college course.

I would suggest dropping the composites/chemistry parts of the course, since understanding those isn't very important to fly anglers, and it's more a matter of personal curiosity for advanced anglers who want to pry into all the nitty gritty details. I can't see that being a really gripping part of an introductory class. Ground water and surface water chemistry could be that way, too. So could limnology, depending on how you interpret the term... some people take it to be heavily focused on lakes.

I would suggest that you teach some stream hydrology (especially erosion/deposition, woody debris capture, and ground water) and ecology (on the food web level, perhaps including some chemistry relating to productivity). A related topic would be hydrology as it relates to trout habitat selection... their tendency to feed across velocity differentials, and the kind of places in the stream that those are found, and where drift is concentrated. (Basically, a scientific take on "reading the water.")

The physics of fly casting might make for a nice part of the class, too.

I like your idea of including some fly fishing literature. Some of Schwiebert's short stories would be a great introduction to the class, to put people in the right mindset for a scientific/analytical approach to the sport.

Also, I can think of a website that might be useful to your students... ;)
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
FlybyknightAugust 8th, 2008, 5:01 pm
Milton, DE

Posts: 82
The Quarry:Evolution & Distribution; Trout Anatomy; Trout Senses; The
The Trout's Environment; Conservation; northern European
trout, North American trout; Grayling & char; The trout's
Equipment: Introduction, rods & reels. Lines, knots & leaders.( Forget
polymer chemistry)
The Fly: Introduction, Steelhead, reservoir, small still water, chalk/
limestone,(Forget other countries)
Casting Technique: Introduction, basic over hand cast, false cast,
single & double haul, roll cast.
Waters & Tactics: Introduction, Free stone, chalk stream, small still
How To: Nymphing, dry fly, streamers, wet fly, emergers.
FLY FISHING LITERATURE This should be the focal point of all your
Forget fly tying. If you do a thorough job in the above, you will never have enough time to do tying justice. Tell them to buy flies that will catch fish first.
I would be very interested in seeing your "final exam"

Lightly on the dimpling eddy fling;
the hypocritic fly's unruffled wing.
Thomas Scott
PCfishesAugust 8th, 2008, 7:06 pm
John Carrier

Posts: 3
You are all helping me out a great deal! Keep it coming! As for the subject choices, what we are trying to do is not only introduce them to a great pass time, but teach non-science majors as much science as we can cram into their 4 hour science credit requirement, using the "hook" (not barbless, I plan on catching and keeping them forever!) of fly fishing. The composites component is a unique opportunity for us at Winona State University, as this is the only college in America that offers a BSc. in composite engineering. Our goal in all this is appreciation of science in an enjoyable applied setting.

Final: camping trip with the goal of catching trout on their own self-tied fly and on their own rod (made in class the first week).

As above, though, keep it coming, please!
- -
I'm for hire! Fly fishing guiding, fly fishing lessons, fly tying.
Email me, if you would like to set a date to go fishing sometime.
SofthackleAugust 9th, 2008, 6:49 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
There is a great wealth of information, here, and the previous posts give a list of great suggestions and very highly technical list of books that go to the heart of the scientific aspects of this art/science/sport.

In my opinion, fly fishing is a dynamic subject. Fly fishermen and tiers continue to evolve and learn, but they do so because it pertains to something they love and most of us love it because it's fun and we immerse ourselves in it. That aspect also needs cultivation.

So I'm going to suggest books which will add to knowledge, pertain to the fly fishing and are also great to read and will spur the imagination.

Caddisflies By Gary LaFontaine
Selective Trout by Doug Swisher and Carl Richards
The Complete Brown Trout by Cecil Heacox
Trout Hunting by Bob Wyatt
The Trout and The Fly by John Goddard and Brian Clarke

Something to cover fly fishing historically, but the only book which comes to mind, at present, is John Mcdonald's "Quill Gordon". Perhaps someone can suggest something more recent

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
FFdukeFebruary 4th, 2015, 10:08 pm
New Hill, NC

Posts: 2
I just realized how old this request was! Oh well, maybe someone else is interested!
So, I think a lot depends on whether this is an PE activity type course or more than that. If it's a few hours per week and a credit or two, I think you need to slim down your conceptualization and possibly expectations? I do sections on casting, trout fishing, entomology, fly tying (often the most popular), rods, lines and start up equipment. We also have three days each semester on a local, private, trout lake. 1-1.5 credits. I expand that with guest speakers.
Joan Wulff's DVD "Dynamics of Fly Casting", Mel Krieger's DVD "Beginnings", Bugs of the Underworld, and 3 or 4 guest speakers spice things up and get essentials transmitted effectively. Don't forget to get permission. You might also want to check the syllabi on Ken Lokensgard's
Speakers: Oliver White talks about fly fishing extremes- Arapaima, tiger fish, big bones and GTs along with a solid conservation message. Once we've had three casting sessions, Jim Coveney from Great Outdoor Provision company brings over a dozen rods of different wts and actions to try out. An entomologist / fly angler from UNC or NC State gives an entomology talk. One of a couple of guides talks about the anadromous shad and striper fisheries on the Roanoke River. We tie flies for trophy trout fishing at the lake. I always have materials out for folks to look at before class: "A Treatise of Fishing with an Angle", "Reel Women", Orvis fly pattern book, issues of Fly Fisherman, a John Gierach book or two, a photo album or two. These can stimulate great discussions. I usually bring in Swiebert's two volume "Trout" early on, and go over history using his section. That's a fun semester, at least for me and my students. Oh, and the final exam is "can you eat pizza and tell fish tales?."
Jeffry J. Leary, Ph.D.
Fly Fishing Instructor
Duke University
TroutnutFebruary 4th, 2015, 10:26 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
This is a pretty good old topic I don't mind seeing bumped and revisited. Welcome to the site Jeffry.

One of the things I've noticed about this discussion (and others like it) is that scientifically oriented fly anglers are overwhelmingly focused on entomology, and to a lesser extent perhaps on fish vision. But there's a lot of science relevant to the question of what the fish are thinking, and anglers rarely dig into it.

A while back I posted a book review of The Mind of the Trout, which is an excellent introduction to these topics for anglers. Also, the opening chapters of Lloyd Gonzales' Fly Fishing Pressured Water are excellent in this regard. If I were teaching a class on fly fishing science I would make things like this the centerpiece, and entomology would come afterward once students have a background on when and why trout get selective and make hatch-matching necessary.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
FFdukeFebruary 5th, 2015, 5:17 pm
New Hill, NC

Posts: 2
Thank you for the welcome, Jason! I actually ran across the forum and post because I am interested in what sorts of courses are actually being taught at the college level. Seems like it would be useful to communicate with each other! Besides the 50 years at Penn State, there is not a lot of information, at least which I can find, that's readily available. I happened to run across a full course with home produced textbook from Ohio not long ago, which was a total surprise. Does anyone know of either a listing, site or individual programs of interest? I'd love to hear about it.
Jeffry J. Leary, Ph.D.
Fly Fishing Instructor
Duke University

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