Review by Jamie McAlisterThe sport (or art) of fly-fishing seems to be experiencing a revival of sorts across the country's waterways. With movies like A River Runs Through It glamorizing the artform and a proliferation of outfitters and guides offering top-notch gear and guidance, freshly hooked fly-fishing enthusiasts are wetting lines in record numbers. Of course, every artform has its history, and fly-fishing is no exception. An avid fly-fisherman, author of more than 25 books, and self-proclaimed trout bum, Paul Schullery delves into the origins and culture of fly-fishing with a bibliophilic glee, citing a creel-full of written references of the sport from its English roots to its introduction to the New World and its subsequent spread across the continent. In addition to illustrating the actual fly-fishing techniques when the common rod was a whopping 16-feet in length, there are philosophical observations and anecdotes on the shared behavioral qualities of fly-fishing brethren. For instance, there are humorous depictions of the trout bum, someone who lives to fish in isolated streams by day and makes his home in a Volkswagen beetle the rest of the time. There are differences between the New England fly-fisherman and the Montana variety, as well as the kinds of characters one meets along the streams or in the adjacent towns. The difference between wet and dry fly evolution is illustrated with historical accounts written by the sportsmen who invented techniques still popular today. The book also covers environmental characteristics of streams where trout have lived and developed for thousands of years and how they now cope with the expansion of humankind. For the fly-fishing enthusiast who's fished a variety of streams, creeks, and rivers, or the greenhorn just breaking in his/her new rod, Schuller's latest work is a clarifying collection of facts and essays that connects the modern fly-fisherman with the very root of his art and sport.
Jamie McAlister is the assistant editor for the Port News and lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.