The Fly-Fisher’s Entomology

It should surprise no fly angler that paying close attention to insects, both aquatic and terrestrial, has a long history in our sport. After all, insects represent the root of fly fishing; without them there is no basis for the sport.

In 1836 Alfred Ronalds wrote The Fly-Fisher’s Entomology, the first comprehensive study of the insects that trout feed on. Not only was his book groundbreaking in its content, it also established the model that all angling entomologies published since then have followed. The Fly-Fisher’s Entomology also set the standard for quality of printing—every plate in the book is utterly magnificent. There’s no hyperbole in saying that in the almost two hundred years since publication, no equal exists among fishing books. Yes, the copper plates are that beautiful. (My photograph barely hints at this beauty.) 

To appreciate the printing, you’ll need to see a first edition. Subsequent editions, though also nice, are not the same. A certain delicacy and nuance to the colors of the first edition allows it to stand alone, unrivaled. As you might guess, first editions of this book are rare (and expensive). The West Yellowstone public library now possesses one, a part of the recently gifted Herb Wellington collection. As one of the seminal volumes in our sport—essentially defining what we do onstream and why—no serious angler should pass on the opportunity to browse the text and admire the plates.

An exquisite joy, to be sure.