The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing
by Mark Kurlansky
Fly fishing, historian Mark Kurlansky has found, is a battle of wits, fly fisher vs. fish – and the fly fisher does not always (or often) win. The targets – salmon, trout, and char – are highly intelligent, wily, strong, and athletic animals. The allure, Kurlansky finds, is that fly fishing makes catching a fish as difficult as possible. There is an art, too, in the crafting of flies. Beautiful and intricate, some are made with more than two dozen pieces of feather and fur from exotic animals. The cast as well is a matter of grace and rhythm, with different casts and rods yielding varying results.
Kurlansky is known for his deep dives into the history of specific subjects, from cod to oysters to milk. But he spent his boyhood days on the shore of a shallow pond. Here, where tiny fish weaved under a rocky waterfall, he first tied string to a branch, dangled a worm into the water, and unleashed his passion for fishing. Since then, a lifelong love of the sport has led him around the world to many countries, coasts, and rivers – from the wilds of Alaska to Basque country, from the Catskills in New York to Oregon’s Columbia River, from Ireland and Norway to Russia and Japan. And, in true Kurlansky fashion, he absorbed every fact, detail, and anecdote along the way.
The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing marries Kurlansky’s signature wide-ranging reach with a subject that has captivated him for a lifetime – combining history, craft, and personal memoir to show readers, devotees of the sport or not, the necessity of experiencing nature’s balm first-hand.