Most of us around the angling brother and sisterhood have at one time or another enjoyed regaling – or being regaled – with a good fishing story. Sometimes the fish grow a bit over the years in the telling. And sometimes events that really transpired seem far too outlandish to be true. Whatever the case, many a slow day of fishing – and many winter evenings when the season’s first cast seems eons away – have been saved by a good fishing tale…whopper or not!
It is my own love of a good fly fishing yarn that inspired me to compile Fifty Favorite Fly Fishing Tales. To create the book, I invited fifty noteworthy fly fishers—including some living legends of the sport—to share some of their favorite fly fishing stories culled from their vast experiences. These stories take us from the caves of Gunung Buda in Borneo where Ralph Cutter casts in darkness for blind catfish to the wilds of the Alaskan Peninsula where J.W. Smith boxes with grizzly bears to protect his tent camp. Tales range from the comical (Jack Gartside poaching trout from a moat to support himself in London) to the poignant (Jean Williams helping a type-A father connect with his son by connecting them with a wary rainbow trout in the Colorado Rockies) to the absurd (George Anderson fly fishing for saltwater crocodiles in Cuba). Some tales speak to large fish landed, others to large fish lost, others to near-death experiences and other striking events that occurred on the way to and from the river. Combined, it’s my hope that the tales herein reflect the rich experience of fly fishing, and how its metaphors extend beyond the river and the salt to touch our lives.
Most of the individuals I interviewed by phone or in person; a few shared written versions of the tale in question, which were amended to suit the “as told to” format the book uses. To give a sense of the breadth of their fly fishing backgrounds, a bio of each individual is included after each tale. I’ve also included a brief footnote that speaks to either the fishery or curious minutiae featured in the tale.
Every fly fisher I’ve ever known has a few good stories to share, and I’m sorry that I was unable to find room for everyone’s tale herein. However, I think you’ll find the stories that are included unique, amusing, and perhaps even inspirational.
Available at a bookstore near you. Autographed, personalized copies available, contact [email protected]