Flyfishing Books, Videos & Software Reviews from The Inside Angler
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Flyfishing Books, Videos & Software Reviews from The Inside Angler

flyfishing book video software reviews

The Inside Angler receives books, videos and software for review. We find the ones listed here especially interesting to western flyfishers.

TIA reserves the right to choose which books, videos and software to review, but will consider any that are sent to us at PO Box 31282, San Francisco, CA 94131-0282.



Tying Catskill - Style Dry Flies
by Mike Valla

published by Headwater Books
New Cumberland, Pa.

Tying Catskill - Style Dry Flies
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Fly Fishing the California Delta
by John Sherman
Photography by Captain Mike Costello

published by No Nonsense Fly Fishing Guide Books
Tucson, Arizona

Fly Fishing the California Delta
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Mist on the River – An Angler’s Quest for Steelhead

By Michael Checchio

If you fish for steelhead, if you plan to fish for steelhead, if you even think about steelhead, this book is a must read.
In just more than 200 easily read pages, the author takes you on a journey in quest of steelhead that centers on what remains as the last domain of the West’s greatest gamefish - British Columbia. On his first visit to fish the tributaries of the Skeena River, we are taken to places so well described that words paint pictures with such depth that only the land itself can compare. But the land cannot speak. And certainly, the fish cannot speak.

It is fortunate for us that Michael Checchio writes what most of us faintly feel. His brush extracts pigments from so deep into the earth that when they hit the canvas, a unique tactile fabric is created. In between his weavings are attributed words of others that are brilliantly used to reinforce ideas that the author couldn’t have said better, but these are few because the author is so well versed. I particularly like the honesty in his writing as it allowed me follow closer than I would most authors who write about fishing. Near the end of the book, Michael writes about the possibility of fishing the Babine River, which he doesn’t have the time to do.

I’m already looking forward to more books about his adventures. Even though I’ve had the opportunity to fish the Babine, and the Dean, which is also mentioned in this book, I know that Michael Checchio’s writings will only enhance my experience all the more.

Suggested Retail Price $23.95 U.S. and $34.95 in Canada published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010. Copyright 2001 by Michael Checchio.

Mist on the River
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A Clean, Well-Lighted Stream

By Michael Checchio

This book contains eighteen essays on fishing mainly for trout and steelhead in the West with most of the action taking place in California. There are also essays on fishing for steelhead on the North Umpqua in Oregon, trout fishing in the Rockies, including Yellowstone National Park, for salmon on the Smith River in California and a particularly revealing chapter on why the author decided abruptly to leave New Jersey and relocate in the West.

The essays can be read in any rotation, as there seems to be no chronological order to their appearance. A Clean, Well-Lighted Stream was first published about ten years ago, but is just as good a read today. The way that Michael breathes and eats fishing and then spits it out is about as good as it gets.

Unfortunately for Michael, and for those who are just starting to flyfish for steelhead and salmon in California, the peak of this fishing as far as fish counts go, reached its zenith more than two decades ago, when anglers were comparatively few. In contrast, the crowds have grown proportionately. And then miraculously, fish returns rebounded dramatically during the last two years. For Michael and for the rest of us who still pursue these fish, there is a different meaning to this fishing now. This difference is not the same for everyone. Michael’s perceptions are particularly penetrating.

Suggested Retail Price $23 published by SOHO Press, Inc., 853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003. Copyright 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 by Michael Checchio

A Clean, Well-Lighted Stream
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FISHING BC - BC’s Best Fishing Lakes
Thompson-Nicola Region
Cariboo Region

By Wesley and Russell Mussio

As a traveling angler, I’m partial to guide books, especially if they fill the purpose for which they were intended. Wesley and Russell Mussio have produced a number of guides for British Columbia anglers and among them are these two, one of the Thompson-Nicola region, which is center to the world famous Kamloops area, and Cariboo region that lies directly north, and equally blessed with superior stillwater opportunities.

Why I particularly like these guidebooks is that they are structured with a set purpose in mind: to show with maps some of the many lakes in each region with enough written information to give an angler a good idea exactly what each lake offers.

Each map occupies one page along with important data such as size, elevation, mean depth, maximum depth along with directions on how to get to the lake, how rough the road my be, and if any facilities or developments are present. The maps show depth gradients so the important feeding shoals are easily defined. Both of these guidebooks contain over ninety maps. The lakes appear alphabetically making them easy to find.

If you plan to fish lakes in these two regions in British Columbia, these guides will be extremely valuable.

Suggested Retail Price $19.95 in Canada published by Mussio Ventures Limited, New Westminister, BC V3L 5T5. Copywrite 2000 Mussio Ventures Limited

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By Richard Louv

The title of this book does not give any hint to what lies between the covers, but the subtitle, "An Angler’s Journey Across America," does. In the first chapter, the author tells of flyfishing with former rocker Conway Bowman for sharks and it sets the tone for twenty-seven chapters that follow. The author weaves wonderful tales with colorful yarns that are chosen perfectly for the characters that are the anglers he meets on his journey. Most are unique, but a few are everyday people. All of them are honestly bared to the bone. It might be possible to see a bit of yourself in some of the characters described.

Together they form an interesting tapestry that is fishing in America as a pastime, competition, an adventure, an economic force and a comparative examination of the sport itself. The book is not entirely about flyfishing or about people that flyfish. This is just as well as it allows flyfishing to be put in its proper perspective.

Richard Louv is an established writer having written "American II," "101 Things You Can Do For Our Children’s Future," "Fatherlove," and "The Web of Life." For the fishing community and for even those who do not engage in America’s favorite outdoor pastime, it is fortunate that Louv chose to write about fishing. "Fly Fishing for Sharks" should be appreciated by everyone.

"Fly Fishing for Sharks" is published in paperback covering 475 pages in the easy to hold 6" x 9" format. There is a limited number of black and white photographs scattered throughout the book averaging one or two photographs per chapter.

Suggested retail price of $16 published by Simon and Schuster New York

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COASTAL FLY FISHING with Ken Handley & Friends (video)
Hosted by Ken Handley, produced by Jeffrey M. Pill and co-produced and edited by William Gordean

With the exceptions of the Canadian and Mexican borders, the United States is surrounded by salt water. Fishing with conventional and spin gear has long been popular in these tidal zones, but flyfishing these same waters, with a few exceptions, is relatively new. This video, hosted by Ken Handley, shows five locations where he fishes with some well known anglers, some who are truly experts in fishing in salt water and some who are slightly out of their true environment.

According to the information provided, everyone involved with the production side of this video has solid credentials in filmmaking. We see good usage of underwater photography, aerial photography, digitized graphics and clearly understood scripting. This is appreciated in the final product, which runs for about an hour and forty-five minutes, the length of some feature films. The stated purposes of this video are to give viewers a taste of what this fishing is all about, how easily it is for freshwater anglers to make the transition to fishing inshore waters, and to educate and inform. As acknowledged by the producer, "This providing entertainment and education, both at the same time, is a fine line to walk."

The first destination we’re taken to is the gulf coast of Texas where guide Wanda Taylor introduces Ken and Lani Waller to catching red fish and sea trout (weakfish). There is very good advice given by Wanda such as shuffling your feet while wading to avoid stepping on a ray, how to choose a fly, and probably most important to a novice, hire a guide the first time out. This particular segment could have been made more succinct by cutting down the amount of "B" roll, the footage used to capture the essence of the location and for voice over and the gratuitous inclusion of an angler out of his area of expertise who brings very little to the table except an engaging personality.

One of the greatest challenges for a filmmaker is to make footage that is interesting and engaging. This can be a daunting task when the basic subject doesn’t lend itself to this objective. We are taken next to San Diego and Mission Bays in southern California to fish for spotted sand bass and undersized halibut. It is confusing to this reviewer why anyone would find interest in catching pound sized fish with a 300 grain shooting taper, even if the waters affording this fishing lie in your backyard. Should this fishing be of interest, fundamental instruction is expertly given. The best part of this segment is the pointers given by Mel Krieger on casting, particularly the use of shorter length shooting tapers.

One of the most successful segments in this production comes up next when we are introduced, entertained, and given some great instruction by Flip Pallot in southwest Florida. Perhaps the reason why this sequence comes across so nicely is that Cameraman Robert Hanna and Soundman Rick Patterson have worked with Flip to produce "The Walker’s Cay Chronicles," arguably the best fishing program seen on television. The fishing is for red fish where Flip poles Ken on some productive flats. As Ken acknowledges, being guided by Flip is a fishing opportunity most anglers would cherish for a lifetime.

The next destination is the rocky shoreline of Rhode Island. Nick Curcione is the featured angler. If you’ve had the chance to spend some time with Nick, you know he is a great storyteller and a very bright fellow as he holds a Ph. D. in Social Sciences. Unfortunately, none of this comes across on the footage, which shows some relatively boring fishing for fluke. Nick recently relocated from southern California to his boyhood New England so he could be close to the revitalized fishing for striped bass, bluefish and smaller tuna species. It’s too bad we couldn’t have been shown some of this fishing as it can be very exciting.

Jack Gartside is widely known as one of the true "characters" in flyfishing. His reputation stems from being a taxi cab driver who spends down time from hauling fares by mounting a vise on the steering wheel and tying flies. This final segment is fishing for striped bass near Logan Airport in Boston Harbor by wading and also from a boat. It is one of the more entertaining sequences. Like some of the other segments, an underlying question is brought up: where is the fun and excitement in coastal flyfishing? According to this segment, it is found fishing from a boat where you find schools of striped bass attacking baitfish on the surface. While watching this footage, I wanted to be doing the same. It is the identical excitement that can be experienced in San Francisco Bay.

"Coastal Fly Fishing with Ken Handley & Friends" was an ambitious undertaking needing more than a year to produce. Without any added expense or time and a broader understanding of inshore fishing, a more entertaining and interesting tape could have been produced giving a more intriguing picture of what is possible. For instance, some of the best coastal flyfishing takes place in the waters of Puget Sound in Washington for silver salmon, a fishery on the rebound like the fishing for striped bass on the East Coast. The premise of the tape brings up an interesting argument: where does coastal flyfishing stop and offshore fishing begin? For this reviewer, fishing inshore waters by wading or from rocky outcrops is like nibbling on the crust while leaving the heart of the pie for someone else. Give me the pie. Repeated viewing of this video confirmed that more is not always best.

Suggested retail price $34.95 plus $4.95 Shipping and Handling produced by Pill Enterprises, PO Box 3239, Fremont, CA 94539 (877/501-3464).

By Bruce Mason, Deep Stream Productions

If you have friends or acquaintances who travel to fish in New Zealand every year and wonder what keeps them returning, you only have to watch this video produced by Bruce Mason, the producer, director, cameraperson and editor.

As Bruce notes on the jacket, "This is not a how to do it video." I think you’ll appreciate this video for its honest presentation because it shows that anglers of average (or even below average skills) can catch the trout of their dreams in some of the most undeveloped surroundings in the world. Bruce produces a flyfishing program entitled "Back Country Fly Fishing" shown in New Zealand and Australia. Over the last three years, he has produced forty-three half hour episodes. The footage from three recent programs was used to produce "New Zealand Trophy Waters."

All the fishing was done on two different streams during three days of fishing. Before you get too excited, the names of streams were intentionally not revealed, for obvious reasons. Also not disclosed was how much trekking was required to reach the areas where the fishing and filming took place. Get ready to put on your hiking shoes, sit back and watch some of the best trout fishing this planet has to offer.

Suggested Retail Price $30/New Zealand produced by Deep Stream Productions. Running time: eighty-one minutes.

Available for purchase through in either PAL or NTSC format. Postage charges are as follows: New Zealand - $5.50; Australia - $8.50; and United Kingdom, United States and Canada - $12.50.


By Jim McLennan

As far as quality trout streams go, the Bow River in Alberta flowing by Calgary and downstream is a recent development, something that came about starting about fifty years ago. Some of the influencing factors contributing to the creation of one of the West’s best trout streams were the discontinued planting of trout, the successful introduction of brown trout and the building of a dam on a tributary that serves the dual purpose of lowering water temperatures on the main stem in the summer and contributing a volume of water to allow trout to successfully overwinter. There are many other factors that make the Bow the trout stream that it is and Jim McLennan weaves these all together to provide an intimate portrait of his home stream.

As one of the first guides on the Bow, you would expect to read about how to fish the Bow and this is covered in every aspect. What you get from reading this book is far more. Jim gives a history of the land and the people through which the Bow runs and he has the courage to speak of the river’s future in the most frank terms. There are expert anglers who write and there are writers who fish. Rarely do you find them one of the same, as here. Even if you never plan to fish the Bow, you’ll enjoy this read.

This is the second edition of this book published in 1999 bringing all timely information up to the present. In the 6"x9" format, "Blue Ribbon Bow" covers 184 pages with 16 pages in color bound together at the end. Black & white photographs are sparingly used and maps help to orient the reader.

Suggested Retail Price $22.95 in Canada and $19.95 in USA published by Johnson Gorman Publishers, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Copyright 1998 Jim McLennan

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Edited by Robert H. Jones with contributions from 33 members of the Outdoor Writers of Canada

To this western flyfisher, it seems inconceivable that a book on fishing in Canada could omit mention of the storied steelhead streams of British Columbia, particularly the Skeena River, its famous tributaries and the Dean River. When covering such a vast territory, this can and does happen. Editor Robert H. Jones wriggles free from this shortcoming by stating, "So here we sit with a noggin of Scotland’s finest, reliving our past year and agreeing it went much too quickly. Far too many places were missed or overlooked, but what the heck? Dreams are cheap, so let’s do it again next year. We can start tomorrow morning….

For the western flyfisher, the chapters focusing on the waters of British Columbia and Alberta will be of the most interest. If you are unfamiliar with these provinces, the chapter entitled "Alberta’s Trout Preserve" by Bob Scammell might be worth the price of the book alone for the information it provides. Jim Crawford, correspondent for "The Inside Angler," writes on Westslope cutthroat and Bull Trout and Brian Chan, noted British Columbia biologist and expert angler, contributes chapters on Kokanee and stillwater techniques. Within the Outdoor Writers of Canada, there must be a member with more knowledge and experience with steelhead who could have contributed to this book. We’ll just have to wait for the next installment.

Fly Fishing Canada is a large book covering 528 pages with hard cover measuring 6 by 9 inches, easily held for reading. There are 96 pages with color split into two signatures that appear near the front and at the end of the book. All contributions to the book were on a volunteer basis with proceeds to cover production and the remainder shared by the Outdoor Writers of Canada and Fly Fishing Canada. Fly Fishing Canada is a non-profit organization that represents Canada at fishing competitions throughout the world. It led the effort to rewrite the Competition Rules to introduce catch-and-release procedures now in use. FFC then developed a proposal to establish a Youth World Fly Fishing Championship and Conservation Symposium, which were first inaugurated in Wales in 1998.

Suggested Retail Price $49.95 in Canada and $44.95 in USA published by Johnson Gorman Publishers, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. All copyrights belong to 2001 Outdoor Writers of Canada. Distribution in the United States is scheduled for October 2001.

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By Bob Scammell

The first thing I did after receiving this book was to go to the dictionary. Webster’s has "phenology: The science of the relationship between climate and periodic biological phenomena, as the migrations and breedings of birds, the fruiting of plants, etc." "The Phenological Fly" relates what the author calls super hatches to the blooming of flowers or the budding of trees, an idea expressed informally by many before him, but never brought together in book form. The idea behind the book is interesting and the author’s intentions are for anglers to form their own associations between importance hatches and the flowering of flora. It achieves this goal.

"The Phenological Fly" is hardbound measuring 4 _" by 6 _" totaling sixty-three pages. All the photographs are in color, which in this case is critical.

Retail Price $15.95 in Canada and $13.95 in USA published by Johnson Gorman Publishers

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By Bill Sunderland
Photographs by Rick E. Martin

In the introduction, Bill Sunderland explains the criteria by which he and Rick E. Martin used to choose the lakes that are included in this book. "First, it is hard for me to get excited about put-and-take lakes that offer nothing more than stocked hatchery trout. However, in many cases, stocked trout are the base for what becomes a fine fishery. Davis, Eagle and Crowley Lakes are examples. Some of these planted trout are able to survive for years, growing steadily and larger, so although they may have started life in a concrete pen, they flourish in the wild to become wily monsters that are tough to catch." Bill goes on to say, "Another criteria is access. There are some fine lakes for hiking anglers, but this book sticks to stillwaters that for the most part can be reached by road. There are exceptions, such as Kirman Lake, that require some hiking, but even these bodies of water don’t demand a strenuous, multiday, or even multihour journey to and fro."

I found this guidebook very informative with some faults. It is a realistic look at stellar stillwater fishing possibilities in the Golden State, not just an extensive listing of lakes where it would be impossible for an author to have personal experience at each and every water with any depth. However, I would prefer that the author of any guidebook be more actively involved with the water he chooses to discuss instead of relying on others for second-hand information. But this is how many guidebooks are conceived today. First, authors find a niche, then they goes about fulfilling that need, most often with substantial help of others. If the waters are kept to the minimum, which is the case here, why is there even a need for second-hand information? What is lost is a comparative analysis between waters by an authoritative source to tell us what makes them unique. Another thing lost is the author’s ability to discern if the contribution from a third party is accurate or not. In the case of the information provided on Lewiston Lake, it is far outdated and speaks of fishing of another time. The recent fishing on Lewiston Lake is just a shadow of its former self. There is other information provided that is questionable. It is stated that Crystal Lake, located next to Baum Lake, is planted with trout and that boat use is permissible. Neither of these is correct. Because of this, we cannot take with confidence everything stated in the book to be true. This is very unfortunate because today people seem to dwell on the negative even when on the whole there is a lot more positive than the reverse.

The first four chapters discuss wild trout, how to approach a lake, equipment, basic trout food found in stillwater and flies that imitate them. All of this has been covered before, and in much greater detail, but a necessity to include in a book of this nature. The following fourteen chapters are the "meat" of the book with each chapter looking at lakes in different regions of the state, the majority of which are located in northern California. The information is presented nicely with some excellent photography marred only by the too frequently seen hatchery trout in what appears to be a death grip instead of being cradled. As with all guidebooks, there may be some arguments to the selection of waters because some quality lakes are not included, but it is hard to argue with those chosen. For anglers living in the Golden State who enjoy quality stillwater fishing and are not familiar with these waters, this is a book that should be of great help.

From a book design standpoint, it is rather disturbing to find the irregular changing of font size within the body text and the random choosing of the numbers of columns. It destroys the continuity of the read and poses the question to what purpose do these serve.

Suggested Retail Price $27.95 published by Mosca Loca Books, Inc.

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Fly Fishing the Henry's Fork - Mike Lawson and Gary LaFontaine
by Mike Lawson and Gary LaFontaine.

To fully appreciate this book about one of the West’s most celebrated trout streams, it would be helpful to know something about its principal contributor, Mike Lawson.

Many anglers who have fished the West seriously have probably met Mike at his shop in Island Park. They soon learn that he is an easy fellow to get along with and he doesn’t mince words when it comes to talking about fishing. This is the Mike that you find telling you about the Henry’s Fork, a river which he has fished most of his life.

As acknowledged by Gary LaFontaine, you get this kind of understanding of a river only by living on it. Gary’s contributions are more evident in the chapters on the different aquatic insects found in the stream. Mike and Gary present information about the Henry’s Fork with some anecdotal sequences to make it an interesting and informative read.

Suggested Retail Price $14.95 published by Graycliff Publishing Company
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Flyfishing Trout Lakes - Skip Morris and Brian Chan
by Skip Morris and Brian Chan

This joint effort by Skip Morris and Brian Chan contains all the information anglers new to flyfishing lakes need to know to get a good start. It covers lake biology, structure of lakes, detailed life cycles of animals upon which trout feed, fishing strategies, equipment selection, choosing basic flies and shows some innovative fly patterns. Especially helpful is the explanation of presentations related to the life cycle of the most common stillwater invertebrates. There is a chapter devoted to those fishing a lake for the first time. Most of technical information was supplied by Brian, who is a fishery biologist for the Department of the Environment of the province of British Columbia headquartered in Kamloops. It is his job to manage the lakes of this famous lake fishing region.

Suggested Retail Price $39.95 for the hardbound edition and $24.95 for the softbound edition published by Frank Amato Publications.
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Essence of Flycasting - Mel Krieger
The Essence of Flycasting
book or video by Mel Krieger

No book on flycasting has been so universally accepted as "The Essence of Flycasting." At last count, it has been translated into five languages.

The reason for this is that Mel teaches a basic concept on flycasting, not a style or a specific approach, and it can be effectively understood by anyone. Essential to the book are excellent black and white photographs by Ben Blackwell. They work in concert with the text to visually reinforce the written concepts.

What Mel’s book accomplishes in print form, his video does the same in this popular medium. Other videos by Mel include "Beginnings," a production targeted at those new to flyfishing, "The Essence of Flycasting II," which goes beyond the basics, and "The Essence of Spey Casting," a look at a method of casting so popular among those who like to use two-handed rods.

Suggested Retail Price $19.95 for the book published by Club Pacific; $29.95 for the video.
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Fishing in Oregon
by Madelynne Diness Sheehan

This is the Ninth Edition of the most complete guidebook ever published on fishing in Oregon. It covers more than 1,200 different waters. Through the years, past editions of this book have been our chief sources when it came to looking for places to fish in the Beaver State.

The original concept in designing the book by breaking the state into specific regions remains. New for this edition are suggestions of where to find the best fishing opportunities in each region or chapter. One hundred maps and excellent photographs by Richard Grost and Scott Richmond add immensely to this production.

For those who fish in Oregon and for those who even consider fishing in Oregon, this is the "bible" of guidebooks.

Suggested Retail Price $24.95 published by Flying Pencil Publications
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Fly Fishing the West's Best Trophy Trout Lakes
by Denny Rickards

There are those who are content to catch trout and then there are those who are more content to catch big trout. If you fall into the latter category and like to fish the stillwaters of the West, this book is for you.

For many years, Denny Rickards, along with Gail, his wife, owned the Rocky Point Resort on the west side of Klamath Lake in Oregon. Besides managing the resort, Denny was a flyfishing guide. When your home waters regularly produce three to six pound rainbows with the strong possibility of hooking a fish that may exceed ten and some that approach fifteen pounds, you can become addicted to catching large trout.

To feed his appetite for big trout, Denny went searching to find places in the West that could grow the kind of fish he likes to catch. He shares his knowledge for success in this book.

Suggested Retail Price $34.95 published by A Stillwater Productions Publication

Delorme Topo USA Fly-Fishing Edition
DeLorme Topo USA Fly-Fishing Edition

In a set of six CDs, DeLorme, known primarily to flyfishers for producing for each state an Atlas and Gazetteer, has digitized the entire United States in map form.

The software loads quickly and allows users to locate any stream or lake easily. It is then possible to zoom in and out to get any degree of magnification desired. Latitude, longitude and the elevation of any specific point of interest are instantly available. Tools allow for making notations, adding symbols, and to view maps in three dimension. For those who own a Global Positioning System unit, it is possible to use it with this software.

Maps and route directions can be downloaded to Palm Computers or Windows CE handheld computers. We found this software easy to use and very intuitively designed. Compared to having to buy individual topographical maps, this set of CDs is a bargain. It certainly beats having to order maps or going to a store to buy them.

Suggested Retail Price $119.95.
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