When it comes to learning about fishing, the lake itself is a classroom. There’s simply no substitute for how much knowledge there is to be gained through trial and error, experimentation, and creativity on the water. However, as we learned in school, cracking open a book or two to discover information that can’t be obtained on the boat is a big part of becoming a better angler. Walk into any outdoors retailer and you’ll find a nice selection of books written by professionals that cover a variety of topics. There are many to choose from, depending on what species, techniques, and aspects of fishing you’re interested in, but I’ve highlighted a few choice reads that will start any angler off on the right foot.

These days, bass fishing is pretty much synonymous with one name: Kevin Van Dam. The man has won four Bassmaster Classics, a myriad of other tournaments, created revolutionary baits and lures, rods and reels, and has spent years perfecting his skills as an angler. Who wouldn’t want to learn from him? His book, Secrets of a Champion, illustrates, cast-by-cast, the tactics and secrets that have helped KVD win many tournaments, and even details the exact process he used to win the Bassmaster Classic. Another great read for bass fishermen is Roland Martin’s 101 Bass-Catching Secrets. In this book, one of the most successful bass anglers ever gives practical, easy-to-learn tips on a variety of bass fishing information, including why fish strike, how to use certain lures, tips for fishing at different times of day, and many other aspects of the sport. The book also includes 250 photographs and stories from Martin’s legendary career.

Fly anglers will benefit greatly from the Wapsi Fly Tying Handbook, which provides great instructions for every level of fly tying, beginner to experienced, in step-by-step photo-assisted chapters. Another must-have tome for any fly fisherman is the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide, Completely Revised, by Tom Rosenbauer, which has been updated to provide anglers with 400 photos and drawings of everything from knots to casting.

Saltwater anglers will love the Sportsman’s Best series of books, especially the Inshore Fishing edition, written by Mike Holliday. This book/DVD combo is filled with details on nearly every inshore species in the water, including habitat, behavior, and effective baits and lures for each. If you’re targeting a particular species, the series also offers books centered on species such as redfish, speckled trout, and snook.

There are a plethora of fishing books that cover a wide variety of species, techniques, and locations. It can be difficult to weed through the shelves of publications to find a knowledgeable one, but once you do, you’ll be more than eager to sit down with a cup of coffee and flip through the pages. There are many things you can do when you’re not on the water, but why not make it a point to learn more about the sport during your down time? It will only make you more prepared for the next trip and the information you’ll be able to share with others will make you look like a pro in no time. 

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