- USD 13.99
National Outdoor Book Award Winner for Outdoor Literature
From the award-winning, bestselling author of Cod-the irresistible story of the science, history, art, and culture of the least efficient way to catch a fish.
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; and for some, bass, tarpon, tuna, bonefish, and even marlin--are highly intelligent, wily, strong, and athletic animals. The allure, Kurlansky learns, 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 a wide range of 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 salt. 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.
Journalist Kurlansky (Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of a Common Fate) enlivens a quotidian subject in this vibrant treatise on fly-fishing. The draw of fly-fishing, Kurlansky suggests, lies in the sport's challenging nature it takes more patience, guile, and finesse than bait fishing. Alongside personal meditations, Kurlansky provides a wide-ranging history of fly-fishing, noting how it has featured in art, literature, and the lives of political figures. Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, for example, loved fish and protected salmon runs in the northern Spanish rivers; Herbert Hoover was "a dedicated fly fisher"; and Czech writer Ota Pavel wrote, "fishing is about freedom, most of all." Kurlansky describes his personal draw to fly-fishing as a primordial urge, writing, "whenever I see a body of water, I look for fish." He enlivens historical explanations with personal anecdotes, describing, for example, the history of the fishing rod as he tells the story of once fishing with an old bamboo rod that a park ranger failed to recognize as an instrument for fishing. Kurlansky captures in crisp detail his experience in nature: "That an icy river can have a warm embrace is one of nature's ironies." This is a thoroughly enjoyable mash-up of vivid memoir and fastidious, eccentric history.