Bonefishing by Stanley M. Babson

This time around let’s look at a somewhat rare book published in 1965. The author’s name is Stanley M. Babson and the title is Bonefishing. Many years later a handful of other authors would do similar books, but to the best of my knowledge Babson’s is the very first one devoted solely to the subject.

Published by Harper and Row, it is relatively small at 5.25″ x 8.25″ and only 144 pages long. It covers both fly and spin tackle. Has a nice foreward by Lee Wulff. And the pages contain b&w photographs and a number of drawings by G. Don Ray and Matthew Kalmenoff. Roughly ten years later, a revised edition was released, and copies can be found online fairly easily.

Today bonefishing is widely hailed and highly addictive as any “bonefisher” will attest. But back in 1965  bonefishing was still an obscure sport, the first “bone” caught on fly happening only 25 to 30 years prior. So Babson was entering uncharted territory and didn’t have extensive background material to rely on. As a result, by present standards, some may feel the book reads more like an overview than an in-depth study.

Bonefish Joe

Still this is a groundbreaking book, supplying a wonderful glimpse back to the origins of the sport.  We learn of Babson’s preference for an Orvis Battenkill bamboo fly rod and his suggestions for flies such as the Grey Ghost, Yellow Marabou Streamer and the Wooly Worm. Patterns that seem unthinkable nowadays. In additional Stanley tells us tales of his days fishing with famous guide Bonefish Joe. All in all a good read and I recommend it to anyone interested in this fascinating “flats”game. Hope you and yours are safe in these troubling times

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