We enthusiasts tend to complicate things. We take something simple, like a wristwatch, and turn it into a pulse-monitoring, altitude-measuring, map-containing, text-messaging supercomputer. At times this is executed efficiently enough to streamline our lives, but there are plenty of instances where we succeed only in mucking things up. This is how Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, feels about fly fishing.
“Heaven knows we fly fishers are suckers for every new gizmo we think will give us a leg up on catching fish,” he writes in one of the opening paragraphs of Simple Fly Fishing, a book that’s recently been thoroughly revised for its second edition. The book is part fishing manual, with specific tips and diagrams on things like casting techniques and knot tying, and part rumination on the philosophy and culture of fishing.
Chouinard, along with angler-authors Craig Mathews and Maro Mazzo, offer up a wealth of highly granular knowledge (what materials are used to tie a hare’s ear fly) but their goal is to make fly fishing as approachable as possible by showing that it can be done with a few items and without an expensive guide. Fly fishing doesn’t have to be elitist, costly or complex. “The higher purpose of practicing a sport such as fly fishing, hunting, or mountain climbing is to affect a spiritual and physical gain,” Chouinard writes. “But if the process is compromised, there is no transformation.”
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