December 19, 2013

Gear Review - 50 Best Tailwaters To Fly Fish


That was the first thing I thought to myself when I received this promotional email from Stonefly Press the other day.

Yeah, I received a copy of "50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish" from Stonefly Press probably over a month ago, and I still haven't reviewed it yet...but clearly this looooooong list of bloggers already have.  I'm such a slacker.

Actually, a bit of the delay was slightly when brands seed a bunch of bloggers with product to review, it's not uncommon to see a flurry of reviews all get published more or less at once.  It's kind of overkill.  I like to hang back a little bit, let that first blitz dizzy you, then come in for the knockout punch later.

So now it's my turn.

I have to start by saying that I don't read a ton of books.  Most of my reading is digital, but when I feel compelled to acquire a book, it eventually falls into one of two categories.  Shelf book or bathroom book.  "50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish" (we'll call it 50BTWTFF from here on out) is definitely a bathroom book.

Now you might say, that's not very nice thing to write...but in my house that's probably the highest complement you can give a piece of literature.  See "shelf books" are books that get read once, then tossed on a bookshelf, largely forgotten and ignored from that point forward.  On the other hand "bathroom books" sit in close proximity of a very high traffic area.  They get read frequently, not only by me, but I'm certain by my guests as well.  They are generally light reading that can be consumed in relatively short "bites" and are typically filled with nice big enjoyable colorful pictures, illustrations, or both.  And using that criteria, 50BTWTFF is a no-brainer bathroom book.

I've probably read this book at least 2 or 3 times since the sample copy was sent, and I honestly have to say that I pick up a little bit new each time.  Approximately 250 pages long, it's organized by geographic region of the country, and no body of water is more than 3 or 4 pages.  It's amazing how much topical information one can fit into 4 pages of text.  That'll probably happen when you go to local guides to connect the dots for each individual area, as authors Terry & Wendy Gunn did.

Starting with a high level overview of the body of water and its local aquatic residents, each section then dives into the appropriate tackle, hatch guides, local regulations & a directory of outfitters, accommodations, and food & drink to make your trip a success.  There are also great full color maps and pictures of folks largely...believe it or not...catching fish.

While no specific tailwater synopsis fills in all of the blanks, it gives you a great idea of what you're getting into and why it's viewed as one of the "50 Best."  It also provides plenty of fodder for your fly fishing daydreams.  Let's just say the week I received this book in the mail was not my most productive at work.

Now if there are any complaints, I guess my only one is that each section leaves me asking for slightly more.  As I mentioned, these are generally high level overviews and while they do contain quite a bit of depth, they are still short (I'd assume by design, I mean who wants to lug a 1000 page book around?), and are not totally unlike destination articles you might find in a "better" fly fishing magazine like the regional versions of the "Northwest Fly Fishing" series.  That said it is 50 of them strung together one after another, so there's definitely a lot of value in that.

But is it $34.95 (MSRP) worth of value?  I guess that's a personal decision, especially in the internet age.  I know that price tag may turn some off.  As a person who travels frequently for work, it is worth it to me to have a manual of potentially nearby fishing escapes at hand, even though I admittedly did not pay for this review copy.

So do I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  But find out for yourself, and let me know if you think this book belongs on the shelf or in the bathroom...

The copy of "50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish" featured in this product review was provided to me at no cost, but carries a suggested retail price of $34.95. I currently hold no association with Stonefly Press or publisher Robert Clouse, but that could change quickly if he's interested in putting some of that publishing power toward a scratch n' sniff tenkara sticker book concept I've been developing...

As with all independent gear reviews at Troutrageous! I try my best to keep my reviews honest and unbiased. If something is good, it deserves applause; if it sucks, I'll probably not write a post and tell the manufacturer my opinion of their hot mess directly outside of this blog. It ain't in my interest to steer you wrong, so why waste the time writing a post doing so?


  1. I'm hoping this book is on sale at the fly show. I'd pick it up for $20. I have a hard time buying any book over that price.

  2. Excellent review. I always enjoy your take on products and books and this one is no exception.


  3. $27.52 - shipped - through one dealer in But I count 56 tailwaters.

    1. I noticed the 50 vs. 56 thing too. But their bad math is perhaps our gain? :)

  4. Went out to add it to my book list and it was already there. Must have picked it up from one of the long list of bloggers that already reviewed it.

  5. Thanks for reviewing this book, a fine job. Actually I was asked to look for it by an editor working on another book in the "50 Best" series, due in Feb. The reason being, I was asked to write a chapter for the upcoming book (which I did) although I had little idea of what I was getting into. Now, seeing what the Tailwaters book is like, I'm glad to be a part of the series. So thanks again, Michael.

  6. My comment for you, Mike, would be very similar to the one Ben from Arizona Wanderings has already posted. I enjoy your reviews because they are an honest and concise review from the average fly fishing person point of view. Tell it like it is, no holes barred type of front. That is actually very refreshing. I have read most all of the reviews by my fellow Bloggers and yours was thorough and quite refreshing at the same time. Thanks again!