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The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing

The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing

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Mark Kurlansky
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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, athletic animals. The allure, Kurlansky learns, is that fly fishing makes catching a fish as difficult as possible. The flies can be beautiful and intricate, some made with over two dozen pieces of feather and fur; the cast is a matter of grace and rhythm, with different casts and rods yielding varying results.

Kurlansky is known for his deep dives into 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, his love of the sport has led him around the world's countries, coasts, and rivers-from the wilds of Alaska to Basque country, 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.