In Pretty and Practical Salmon Flies, Dick Talleur takes the same technique he's used to get thousands of people tying flies with his beginner books, and translates it for the salmon fly tyer. In other words, he discusses the absolute essentials for tying solid flies for fishing, and does it in a clear, straightforward manner. If you plan on tying flies to put in your box for that trip to Canada, I would start out with this book.
As a matter of fact, I might recommend you start out with
this book, period. I first saw this book when it was newly released,
with the eye of a trout fisherman, and I didn't see much value.
Apparently, neither did a lot of other tyers, as I've heard that it
didn't spend much time on the bestseller list. However, now that I've
gone through the Full Dress Salmon Fly Mill, I've got a little different
In addition to his normal, easy going, tell-you-just-what-you-need-but-not-any-more style of writing, Dick has a pretty refreshing outlook on the whole salmon fly tying scene. This was tempered by a whole lot of fishing in Russia which challenged a whole bunch of preconceived notions. He found most of the current assumptions to be faulty, as it turns out. He comes back to salmon fly tying with this attitude, and it permeates the book. In a nutshell, he believes the flies are made to catch fish, and it's nice if you want to make them pretty and hang them on the wall. Just don't knock yourself out doing it.
This is clearly obvious in the way he treats the discussions on the exotic feathers. He makes his opinion quite clear, and then shows you cheap and easy substitutes for most of them. So you can have it either way, and not feel awkward about reading the book. He strikes a nice balance.
Dick is also pretty clear about the need to slavishly follow the classic patterns - he thinks it's a bit over the top, bless him. I tend to agree with this myself, and avoid tying some of the more complex flies. Not because they're harder, but because I think they just look cluttered when you hang 40 items on the same hook. I much prefer the look of the simpler flies. Dick makes the point by discussing the Jock Scott, where he happily leaves off a third of the items and still comes up with a great looking fly. (This is probably responsible for many people rolling in their graves, but I think it has a lot of value.)
So to sum it up, if you want to tie up a bunch of flies for that next trip to your salmon retreat, this is a great book. Just stay in the beginning, and leave the feather wings alone. If you want to learn to tie feather wings, work your way through the Black Bear Green Butt chapters in the beginning, get the basics down, move over to his stripped down classics, and then go from there if you need more. It's a good path to follow.