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Book Review: 'Why I Fly Fish' by Chris Santella

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February 08, 2013

Book Review: 'Why I Fly Fish' by Chris Santella

By Kirk Deeter

Some of my favorite writing on fly fishing has more to do with the "why" of the sport than the "how to." The soon-to-be-released "Why I Fly Fish" by Chris Santella (who did a lot to show us the ultimate "wheres" of fly fishing through his books "Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die" and "Fifty More Places to Fly Fish Before You Die") certainly cuts to the core of why people from all walks of life find themselves hopelessly addicted to standing in water waving a long stick.

The premise, as with all of Santella's books, is quite simple: He asked a number of people, ranging from notable anglers to writers, actors, sports heroes, politicos and business icons, exactly what makes fly fishing special for them, and why they got going in the first place. I am honored to have been included in the book. My story of why I fly fish is pretty simple: I took it up to impress a girl. Turns out it worked because she's been my wife for 23 years now.

Each chapter features an elegant narrative. I find some of the specific quotes to be very interesting:

"To me, the whole intoxication of fly fishing is sight fishing," said author Carl Hiaasen.

"Fishing gets me close to the very basic reason for what I'm on the planet for--to survive," said April Vokey. 

And golf legend Nick Price said, "I think the most telling similarity between golf and fly fishing is that with both sports, you're constantly learning, constantly trying to improve your methodology."

In sum, it's an inspirational read. It might motivate the newbie who's wondering what this game is all about. But more importantly, perhaps, it reaffirms in the hearts of the committed angler some of the reasons why we're here in the first place.  The book costs $19.95, and will be released in the next several weeks.

So why do you fly fish?

Comments (8)

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from Koldkut wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I was once razzed by a guy who told me to get rid of my boat oar(spinning rod) and get a fly rod. I heard that guy now has a waning interest in the fly game now...

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I fly fish for the same reason I bow hunt with traditional equipment. Mastering your skills as an outdoorsman will always trump any benefit technology will provide. That is why Tenkara comes so natural for me. I love to stalk game.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Fly fishing is one of if not my biggest passions. I do it because it is a wonderful balance of science and art. If you let it, it will teach you something every time you go out. Personally, it becomes less about catching (although catching fish is awesome) and more about understanding. Mastering the casting, etymology and ecosystem is so much more in depth and gratifying than chucking spoons, powerbait, marshmallows and maggots. It presents more challenges and less immediate satisfaction which makes success so much more fulfilling . And it will take you to the most beautiful places one can imagine. Flyfishing is the purest way to catch a fish.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Gtbigsky...Stop it, they are going to claim I switched handles, and now own yours. Great post. Many never will get it, but that's ok as well.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

AMEN, Gtbigsky!
There is so much more joy in flyfishing than other fishing. Also more skill and understanding which leads to more joy.
I love the almost zen like state of fishing in the morning mist, waist deep to rising trout. Hearing a turkey gobble in the distance or seeing a deer and her fawn come down to the stream for a drink. It sounds corny but fly fishing puts me at one with nature.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Before you can review a book you need to be able to read. The title of Santella's book is "why I FLY fish," not "Why I fish." Why the need for the distortion?

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from kirkdeeter wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

What are you talking about clinch? You must be confused again. :)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Kirk...excuse me. I am cornfused again. Been happening on a regular basis lately. Must be the pills I've been taking, or maybe the cold weather we've been having has frozen the thought process. I could have swore the topic was "Why we fish" Been tying some great action nymphs I will call them on Mustad Jig hooks. I'm putting on a tying demo here next month. Hope I remember where the site is located.

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from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Fly fishing is one of if not my biggest passions. I do it because it is a wonderful balance of science and art. If you let it, it will teach you something every time you go out. Personally, it becomes less about catching (although catching fish is awesome) and more about understanding. Mastering the casting, etymology and ecosystem is so much more in depth and gratifying than chucking spoons, powerbait, marshmallows and maggots. It presents more challenges and less immediate satisfaction which makes success so much more fulfilling . And it will take you to the most beautiful places one can imagine. Flyfishing is the purest way to catch a fish.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

What are you talking about clinch? You must be confused again. :)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I fly fish for the same reason I bow hunt with traditional equipment. Mastering your skills as an outdoorsman will always trump any benefit technology will provide. That is why Tenkara comes so natural for me. I love to stalk game.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I was once razzed by a guy who told me to get rid of my boat oar(spinning rod) and get a fly rod. I heard that guy now has a waning interest in the fly game now...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Gtbigsky...Stop it, they are going to claim I switched handles, and now own yours. Great post. Many never will get it, but that's ok as well.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

AMEN, Gtbigsky!
There is so much more joy in flyfishing than other fishing. Also more skill and understanding which leads to more joy.
I love the almost zen like state of fishing in the morning mist, waist deep to rising trout. Hearing a turkey gobble in the distance or seeing a deer and her fawn come down to the stream for a drink. It sounds corny but fly fishing puts me at one with nature.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Before you can review a book you need to be able to read. The title of Santella's book is "why I FLY fish," not "Why I fish." Why the need for the distortion?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Kirk...excuse me. I am cornfused again. Been happening on a regular basis lately. Must be the pills I've been taking, or maybe the cold weather we've been having has frozen the thought process. I could have swore the topic was "Why we fish" Been tying some great action nymphs I will call them on Mustad Jig hooks. I'm putting on a tying demo here next month. Hope I remember where the site is located.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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