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The Small Stream Dry Fly - A New and Radical Approach by Lou Stevens

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Reviewed by Terry Lawton

Lou Stevens is quite a prolific writer and in this his latest book, he writes about dry fly fishing on a variety of different small streams: a hill stream in South Wales, a stream in the Peak District, lowland/pasture water and a moorland stream. This is quite a sensible and useful approach, particularly for any reader who is planning to fish a stream different from what they are used to. He includes some useful information on suitable tackle and flies.

I am not 100 per cent sure but I think that the new and radical approach is based on Lou's idea of fishing what he describes a damp flies. These are flies that float in the surface film of the water, rather than on top of it. To do this successfully, he recommends trimming the hackle from underneath dry flies, using spent patterns and flies such as the Klinhåmer Special (to give it its proper name and spelling) and emergers that are designed to fish in the surface film. I do wonder how many people today fish reverse-hackle flies which Stevens seems to be rather keen on.

Drag and its elimination or reduction is often crucial to successful dry fly fishing, so much so, in fact, that Lou Stevens writes: "The problem of drag is so important that it is necessary to consider it from all aspects." He then considers how to reduce drag by casting from the mast advantageous position, how to pick-up your fly at the end of a cast so that it does not frighten any fish and the possibility of fishing downstream. He then states: "The casting methods are the least effective way to reduce drag and are only used to supplement our strategic efforts." In my opinion he seriously underestimates the importance of good casting - and using the right casts - to prevent or minimise drag. Yes, casting from the best position will help eliminate drag but you have still got to be able to make a good cast particularly when there are different flow speeds to be taken into account.

The book contains a section on terrestrials which he has written about at greater length in another of his books (Trout and Terrestrials, also published by Swan Hill) and micro flies.

Lou Stevens has fished in the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains of the USA, wilderness regions of Canada and much of Europe. For some years he was an instructor with the Montreal School of Game Fishing. In 1994 he was elected to the House of Hardy Flyfishing Hall of Fame. He has written a number of books and lives in Alvaston, Derbyshire.

The Small Stream Dry Fly, A New and Radical Approach by Lou Stevens is published by Swan Hill Press at £12.95. 116 pages paperback.

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