When ‘The Weather Outside is Frightful’ Curl up Indoors with a Good Book


It’s January and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season should be over. You should be able to make a little time for yourself and relax a bit. What better way to do that than with a good book? I know, many of you would prefer to be out on the hard water, sitting on a bucket, staring into a hole in the ice, hoping to get a fresh Friday night fish fry, but that cannot always be done—for a variety of reasons.

I hope for you, that for those occasions when you must be homebound, you were lucky enough, like I was, to receive a book you can spend some of that downtime with, to not only enjoy, but, like the one I got, to expand your outdoor experiences.
In my case, that expansion will be in the form of learning the correct way to tie feather-wing streamers, and, yes, from another book.
I already have an extensive outdoor library. My wife thinks I have more than I can ever read, but that is wrong. I have actually read—at least portions of—every book on my shelves. Many I have read two and three times, and continue to pick them up and browse through them for a story now and again. They are that enjoyable.
Among those I read over and over again are: A Sand Country Almanac, by Aldo Leopold; The Last River Rat, by Kenny Salway; and Of Woodsmoke and Quiet Places, by Jerry Wilber.
Some of my other books include: the complete collection by Robert Ruark, in hard cover, including his first novel, Grenadine Etching. I also have the complete collection by Sigurd Olson, and everything put together in book form that was written by the late, but in my opinion, the greatest outdoor writer, Gordon MacQuarrrie—to name a few. Yes, I have a lot of good reading.
But I digress. The most recent book I received, the one I indicated in the beginning of this article, the one I got because I asked for it for a Christmas gift (and I must have been a good boy because Santa left it under the tree for me), is Tying Heritage Featherwing Streamers, by Sharon E. Wright.
This is an 8.5 x 11 soft cover, about 170 pages in length, printed in four colors on gloss paper, with hundreds of photos to illustrate the flies and the stories that go with them.
Early in the beginning of the book, as a part of the history of featherwing streamers, Ms. Wright disassembles, step by step, a Carrie Stevens Blue Devil fly. Each step is photographically documented and each step completely explained.
Why Carrie Stevens? If you have to ask, you know very little about featherwing streamers and fly tying. Carrie Stevens is considered by many, even today, as having been the best—at least, without a doubt, the best in her day. Today, Dave Whitlock might fill that spot—maybe.
Stevens lived in Maine and created many patterns that still catch fish today, and not only in Maine. You may have heard of The Grey Ghost. That is one she designed.
This is a book for tiers—those of us who have tied for a long time and are always looking for ways to improve. It is definitely a how-to book, going into the basics of featherwings, selecting the proper materials to do the job correctly, making perfect shoulders and wing assemblies and then many, many actual recipes, complete with photos.
If you have never heard of this book but tie flies, I suggest you go to your local library and see if it has a copy, or if they can get one for you. You just may end up getting one like I did—asking for it as a gift.
For a little lighter reading, I acquired another new book this past year, Taconite Creek, a novel, by John Luthens.
This is Luthens’ first book, but will not be his last, I am sure. This is not a how-to book, but rather one you will want to enjoy while sitting in front of a blazing fire in the fireplace, if you have one, sipping your favorite beverage.
It is the story of a boy who is guided into manhood, in some unusual ways, by two very interesting, albeit in many ways, opposite characters—old time miners. The setting is the wilderness area of Lake Superior. And, oh yes, there is just enough about fishing for trout involved in the story to keep any fisherman engaged. There are laughs and tears. It is a very entertaining read.
So there you are. When the weather turns on you but you still want to enjoy the outdoors, may I suggest a few hours of good reading? If you are a tier, I recommend Tying Heritage Featherwing Streamers, and whether you tie or not, get yourself a copy of Taconite Creek. You will enjoy every minute spent with both of them.

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Jerry Kiesow enjoys all aspects of the outdoors and shares them in many ways through his photos, words and workshops. He has written a book, “Tales of The Peshtigo Putzer,” that makes a great gift. Check it all out at his website: jerrykiesowoc.com.