Written by Jason Worley
One title I’ve never quite achieved is that of a Fly Fisherman. Now, I've tried my hand at this art several times, but due to a strange ability to attract low hanging limbs and a lack in patience the fly rod usually saw little light before it quickly found its way back to the Jeep. A couple close friends, who seemed to be born with a fly rod in hand, showed little sympathy for my ability to catch every maple limb within a hundred feet and get slapped around by its leafy branches. The harassment would bring about lessons using phrases like “Double-Haul,” “False Casting,” and “Backcast.” For this country boy, fly fishing made no sense.
It was at the end of one of those long days of slapping matches with every tree limb on a hundred yard stretch of river, that one of those gifted friends walked up to me as I was wedging a 9 foot rod into a 6 foot Jeep cab, handing me something. I paused just before the rod snapped and looked down as he laid a book on the tattered seat. In a compassionate, yet sarcastic tone he said, “You may not be able to cast a fly rod, but I know you can read….enjoy.”
As I sat in the seat of my old Jeep that afternoon, I opened the book I was just gifted, and read a couple paragraphs. I was quickly drawn in and knew I may never be dropping flies like an expert, but I would forever be reading this man's writing. Here's what I read.
I think writing is a lot like fishing, especially when it’s about fishing, as most of mine is. Both take curiosity, patience, persistence, lots of time, some skill, a willingness to put things together in odd ways, an appreciation of the process itself (regardless of how it turns out), and faith that it’s all somehow worthwhile. What sane person would spend a whole day writing a paragraph that reads like it was dashed off in thirty second? The same kind who’d fish for one big trout all morning just so he can look at it and release it.
Sitting there in my Jeep pondering the day and the words I had just read, It was as if Gierach was talking right at me. I was not a writer, I obviously wasn’t a fly fisherman, but after a hard day of getting beat up, I understood the idea that the process is what we really are seeking. I went home and devoured the book in one afternoon.
John Gierach, the author of such titles as Standing in a River Waving a Stick, Trout Bum, and Another Lousy Day in Paradise, has an almost Mark Twain style of writing. He can turn an average day of fly fishing into a life altering experience, as well as teach lessons through wit and humor. The book I was so graciously gifted that day; Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders, is a collection of forty of Gierach's essays from six of his books. If you want a well rounded taste of his writing, I can't think of a better place to begin then by picking this one up. More importantly, if, like me, you are a less than stellar fly fisherman, this book will give you hope that there are some experts out there who have felt your pain and had their own slapping match with a maple.
You can find it at the link below.