In recent weeks, when I have a free moment, I have been planning for Steelhead fishing. Christmas in Oregon will give plenty of opportunity to swing flies for these beautiful big sea run rainbow trout. Before my trip to Scotland in 2008 I purchased a modern salmon rod; a Scott ARC 14' 9 weight for casting in the style developed on the Spey River in Scotland. The term "Spey casting" is toponymous like the distinctive Telemark turn in skiing which was also named after the place where it was developed, the Telemark valley in Norway. Spey casting is equally distinctive, as are the flies originally tied for fishing the river Spey.
My way of planning a trip to Oregon includes pouring over 130 year old British fly fishing books. I started looking for copies of Arthur Edward Knox's book Autumns on the Spey. This book is the first that gives explicit tying instructions for a selection of original Spey patterns. Low and behold, the future is here, I discovered that Google Books has scanned a rather astounding collection of rare and important titles from the Fly Fishing literature. The link above points to the online copy of Knox's book online. The scanned copies are available to read on the internet and for free download as pdf or epub files. To read the epub files you can download a free reader from Adobe which does not appear to include any print capabilities. Unfortunately, the google pdf files do not include figures, you have to look at them online or you can clip them from the online text individually using the clipping tool on the Google site.
Another title relevant to Spey casting and Spey flies is an 1895 edition of George M. Kelson's book The Salmon Fly: How to dress it and how ot fish it. Also, there are numerous editions Francis Francis's book titled A book on Angling: being a complete treatise on the art of Angling in every branch. The link it to the fourth edition of 1876. The images above of the Spey and Loop cast are from Frederick George Shaw's The Science of Dry Fly Fishing and Salmon Fly Fishing. Although the Knox, Kelson, and Francis titles are of significant historical interest to Spey casters and steelhead and salmon fishers who tie and fish classic flies, many titles, even old ones, by better know authors do not seem to be available for full download e.g. for trout fishing, no title by G.E.M. Skues is freely available.
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