Getting my first fly rod, that was a big day. So was
the gift of a home-made fly tying vise, that I remember
too. One of the more vivid pictures I recall was a old
man who gave me a whole box of mostly used flies. But
none of these can compare to the feelings I got from
reading books, it was in them I found my real treasures.
Right, here I am on the Internet, with the largest fly
fishing information web site, promoting reading books.
Those of you who read this column know I try to give
you something each week to help with your fly fishing.
Reading a few books will help in ways you may not have
It seems many of the fly-fishing books these days are
in the 'How To' area. Most authors like to tell everyone
how it should be done (usually exactly as they do it.)
Your job is to find a few books not in that area. You
may have to do a little digging at the library but,
they are there. The books that inspire. The volumes
that take you to the places where the fish live, the
times on the river when things went right, or sometimes,
not quite so right.
We all need dreams, and we need to read about dreams of
others. We need to be taken by the hand and led to new
waters, new places, new ideas and perhaps, back to old
places and even older times. These are good for us.
To read a book and have to stop and re-read a paragraph,
or a few sentences, and pause and reflect on what the
writer just said. Or what was it he left unsaid. To
make pictures in our own mind, to see through an others
eyes, to hear, to know, to live and relive. These are
the elements of good books. Books can make us see from
a different perspective, to see and feel things we hadn't
Foremost in reading is the inspiration. The little tugs
at our mind that keep pulling us in a certain direction,
that keep us on focus and going when other things tend
to pull us away. It is this inspiration I well remember.
The 'warm-fuzzy' feelings I would get when I read, these
are parts of my past I cling to, times I value and cherish.
These are some of the my favorite memories. For instance,
this one is out there, in a good book, I don't remember
which book, but I remember this.
A stream, not too wide, a long run with a deep hole
under a great fallen tree. Far too deep to wade, the
only approach is from upstream, and fish a fly straight
down to the hole. The resident, an abnormally large
brown delights in taking big mayflies during the
'Hex' hatch. The problem is this, when a fly is
drifted down to him, the fly drags, and/or sinks
before it gets there.
Many found an easy solution. Strip out the necessary
amount of fly line, set the fly on a leaf and turn it
loose. As it gets to the 'danger-zone,'twitch it off
of the leaf. Perfect presentation. This brings the
second part of the enigma. The trout takes and dives
for the recesses of the log-jam and breaks the leader.
We all know you can apply steady, unrelenting pressure
at the right time and often 'tow' a trout upstream
under these conditions.
One summer evening an angler attempting to reduce the
brown to hand had an option. To float, twitch and tow,
or... He had another idea. He could put his fly line
on his reel but not tie it to the arbor. Let the trout
take the fly and dive with it. Allow the line to flow
from his reel completely and drift down past the fish.
He would leave the stream, go below the log jam, find
the end of the drifting, floating fly line, thread it
back through his rod and onto the reel, tying it this
time, and fight the fish from below. What happened?
Which did he do, and did it work...
Many things have made up my fly-fishing, reading books
kept me going. You may not be able to afford all you
want right now. Just buy one. Treasure it, put your
name and date in it, it's the start of your fly-fishing
library. Add to it when you can. Nothing can take the
place of a good book, not even, or I suppose, especially,
the Internet. I'm sorry to say, good books will be around
long after these ephemeral pages fade from view and memory.
Books are for a lifetime, good ones even longer. ~ JC
(link to new book lists)