Blue Ribbon Bow


184 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 0-921835-51-5
DDC 799.1'757'0971233




Reviewed by A.J. Pell

A.J. Pell is rector of Christ Church in Hope, B.C., and a lecturer in
the Anglican Studies Programme at Regent College in Vancouver.


In the past decade, Alberta’s Bow River has become renowned for its
high-quality fly-fishing. Blue Ribbon Bow is a revised edition of a book
originally published in 1987. Written by a man who served as a guide on
the river for many years, the volume is a thorough introduction to the
Bow, from the headwaters at Bow Lake above Lake Louise to its mouth,
where it joins the Oldman River west of Medicine Hat to form the South
Saskatchewan River.

The reader learns the history of human activities along the river and
their cumulative effect on the health of the river and its fishery.
Recommendations pertaining to tackle, boats, and flies are given.
Fishing tours of the river are detailed with the aid of basic
introductory maps; the lower river gets scant attention here because
McLennan is concerned with trout and the lower river is a warm-water
fishery (pike, walleye, etc.). At the end of the book, tying
instructions for the key Bow River flies (streamers, nymphs, and dries)
are followed by good color photographs of those flies and 12 pages of
seductive photographs depicting the river in all seasons.

The author’s love of this river radiates from his simple prose. The
careful reader is given enough information to begin fishing the river
right away, although McLennan does remind us that the best introduction
to some sections would be with an experienced guide. Either way, fly
fishers will treasure this book and return to its insights again and


McLennan, Jim., “Blue Ribbon Bow,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 5, 2023,