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Patagonia Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques For Tenkara And Rod & Reel

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Patagonia Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques For Tenkara And Rod & Reel outdoor skills book

In-depth, but engaging book focused on simplifying fly fishing. It is a great balance of skills, stories, and phenomenal photography. A great book for anyone interested in flying fishing or just interested in learning new skills.


  • Well written
  • Helpful diagrams and pictures
  • Engaging stories


  • Font layout and style is not my favorite, but that does not take away from the content.

Written by Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews, and Mauro Mazzo, Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel is a fantastic book on the art and lifestyle of fishing in it most basic form. All three of the authors are lifelong fisherman with decades of experiences. More important, however, is that they are all wonderful storytellers. They are able to present technical information in an engaging and entertaining way that guides the reader through the book and prepares them to try out their new skills. To quote Yvon Chouinard in the forward, 

"This book is for the young person who wants to learn but feel intimidated by the complexity, elitism, and expense of the sport. It is for the mother and daughter who are put off by the image of testosterone-fueled ‘rip-some-lips,’ good-old-boys. It is also for the experienced angler who has all the gadgets and gizmos and discovers he or she wants to replace all that stuff with new skills, knowledge, and simplicity." (pg. 14)

Yvon’s description is entirely accurate. Having grown up on a lake in Connecticut, I spent my childhood chasing sunfish, bass, and the occasional trout. I evolved from bobbers and worms, to casting flashing metal lures. For the last 6 years I have been focused on fly fishing for trout on the rivers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire near my home. I am not a beginner but I have much to learn, and from beginning to end of Simple Fly Fishing, I was learning new skills, confirming old practices, and gaining more confidence to try something new. 

This book is divided into five chapters covering trout and their food, fly fishing with wet flies and streamers, fly fishing with nymphs, fly fishing with dry flies, and fishing situations. 

The chapters on fishing styles provided techniques as well as fly patterns that can be tied and used, a total of 46 different patterns are included in the book.


The video below provides a detailed review of the book and more of my thoughts and opinions on its contents, style, and layout. 

The overarching theme of this book is that anglers should not fear returning to a simpler method of fly fishing. One of my favorite passages gets at the heart of this:

Heaven knows we fly fishers are suckers for every new gizmo we think will give us a leg up on catching fish. We wear vests with twenty pockets and waders with even more storage. And as if that isn’t enough, we have lanyards, waist packs, and backpacks to carry even more impedimenta.” (pg. 13)

Followed by the reminder for Chouinard:

Most anglers soon discover simple fly fishing helps preserve our capacity for wonder. It can teach us to see, smell, and feel the miracles of stream life—with the beauty of nature and serenity all around—as we pursue wild fish.” (pg. 14)

This message was what I took away from this book. I looked at my collection of packs, sling bags, waist bags, as well as my fly boxes filled with dozens of patterns of flies I have never used. I decided to see if I could reduce what I carried to the river to see how it changed my approach. I challenged myself to only bring a handful of basic fly patterns to the water along with only one rod. With less equipment to fall back on I found myself focusing more on the act of fishing. Watching the water to observe what the fish were doing and eating and then attempting to use what I had with me to entice them to strike. While my success rate in terms of fish landed initially went down, my enjoyment levels went up and I became a much better angler in the long run

My only complaint about the book is in the font style which jumps between a size 12 range font down to a size 10 depending on the section. This did not take away from the content of the book but I could see it being a challenge for readers that have trouble with small type.

In conclusion, I would not hesitate to recommend this book. It is a great addition to the library of a seasoned angler as well as someone just starting out. The in-depth descriptions, interesting stories, and detailed graphics and images all work together to present the reader with the knowledge to expand their fishing experience.

Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample for testing and review provided by Patagonia)

About the Author

Jim lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with his wife and their dog Roland. He spends his free time mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, and backpacking in the spring, summer, and fall, and skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Jim is also the founder of Bethlehem Trails Association, a non-profit dedicated to human-powered activities in his town. 

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Price MSRP: $24.95
Current Retail: $24.95
Historic Range: $24.95-$250.00
Authors Yvon Chouinard, Mauro Mazzo, Craig Mathews foreword by Russell Chatham
Includes Full-color photos, illustrations, and paintings, more than 35 fly-tying recipes
Weight 653 g / 23 oz
Dimensions Paperback with flaps / 192 pages / 8 ¾” x 11 ¼”
Origin Printed in Canada on 100% postconsumer-waste recycled paper
Product Details from Patagonia »

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