I will agree that photos and descriptions are better than none. However, that is really not why most fly fishers take photos. They are out there to fish and not to make a teaching sequence.
I probably write more technical teaching posts than most posters. But I like doing that. Others do not. They just want to fish and post about their trip. I think that is great.
Here is the hard truth about learning to fly fish. Fly fishing is situational.
By its very nature showing you a location and a photo of a fly plus how it was fished does not guarantee that if you had that same fly the next day and did the same thing at the same place, that you would catch a fish.
I am reading a book that I got from my son for Father's Day. It is AStream, American Writers on Fly Fishing
. In it, Craig Mathews remembers Datus Proper's observation that, "the big angling frontiers were long ago conquered, and the little seemingly unimportant details
, perhaps heretofore ignored, are some of all that's left in fly fishing."
That is why in my writing on this BB, I deal in the details of fly fishing. I have been fishing so long, this is where I learn new things, in examining the details that other fishers could care less about. The basics of reading water, matching the hatch, dead drift, etc, etc, have been long covered in many books.
I have been at this a very long time; and I can tell you without any hesitation on my part that if you want to learn to be an excellent fly fisher, reading the best instructional books is the way to do it and then go fish.
Fly fishing is a combination of science and art. The science part is learning the basic principles and learning them in a coherent and organized fashion. You must have a framework of basic knowledge upon which to build a systematic approach to your fishing. Then the art is in the applying this knowledge by fishing to see what works for you and what does not.
A piece by piece approach does not help if you don't know where the piece fits.
Let me put it this way, if I said I caught this fish by making a left handed curve cast and then a stack mend on the fast water, would that help you if you could not make a left handed curve or accurately place a stack mend, or were not sure how this fit into how to solve a fly fishing puzzle?
I have been where you are now and and I learned before youtube videos, teaching DVDs, and all the information that is available now. The best teacher in my view is when you find a rising fish that you cannot catch and need to solve that puzzle using your basic knowledge
. If you don't have the knowledge to solve the puzzle, research it. Those are the lessons that stick with you.
For example, I recently posted this puzzle:
Solve the puzzle
If I said I caught the fish by casting behind the fish, it would only make sense if you know the optics of the fish's window. It is this type of basic knowledge that is needed to make sense of why my strategy works. Without it, you would not know why that works, and the "why" is more important than the "how." The very reason for my post was to teach about applying the window to solve this puzzle.
Fly fishing is situational. The best lessons are not those that apply to that single situation, but those that are interesting enough that the principle of the lesson, THE WHY
sticks with you.