I think I discovered Gierach about the time I discovered fly fishing. I can’t claim to have read all his books, but certainly most of them. I mean, who could resist the title “Trout Bum?” When I saw that Gierach had a new book out, “A Fly Rod of Your Own” I immediately ordered a copy (and yes, in a fit of self indulgence I ordered an autographed copy.)
I always feel like I’m just along for the ride when Gierach tells his stories. His style makes you comfortable, and you just settle in as the story unfolds.
Many of the stories in this most recent book involve the north country and the primary mode of transportation there: bush planes. For me, these locales increase the lure of the stories, as steelhead, char, and the like are foreign to my experience. I’ve never fished out of the continental US! Not all of the stories are about exotic locales, however. He writes about fishing a crawfish pattern in a local lake with the familiarity of a hockey player leveraging the sweet spot on the boards on his home ice.
Other stories range from fishing trips across the lower 48 to thoughts on guiding, choosing a fishing partner (or do they choose you?) and other musings on this pursuit that so many of us hold dear. I’m afraid to go into too much detail for fear of spoiling a story, but here are a few examples.
In an almost autobiographical comment, Geirach says
“This river is like a favorite author who could write a book about knitting and we’d still read it . . . “ and of course, in spite of advice from experts to the contrary, they fish the river that day.
In discussing camp food, he wisely advocates for simplicity: “Like fly-fishing itself, the simplicity of it can easily be smothered under too much equipment and technique.” Think about that for a minute or two.
One quote in particular stays with me “. . . the best advice you can give either a fisherman or a writer is: Don’t do what everyone else does. Avoid cliches’."
Gierach gets it. The “it" of why we travel and fish and talk about fly-fishing. His writing is always engaging, and you will have to pace yourself in order not to miss the subtlety of his observations. Don’t read this one all at once! Get a copy for yourself, and a friend, your dad, even a random stranger.