By the way... - Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

By the way…

fly fishing, Wilderness NorthBook Review: ‘Why I Fish’ by Chris Santella
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. 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…»

Gear Review: Motorola Talkabout MS355R Radios
Two-way radios are a great way to stay in touch when fishing. I’ve been using them more and more recently -part of that is safety related. I typically like to work my own stretch of river, but I like to have buddies around. If somebody takes a fall, the others can help. And then there are simple advantages like, “I left my spool of 5X in the truck, mind if I walk down and borrow some of yours?” or “Hey, the blue-winged olives are starting to hatch up here, keep your eyes peeled.” My favorite scenario is sight fishing as a team: One angler in the water, and another on a high bank calling in the shots like a forward artillery observer, whispering into the ear piece of the caster (because I do think shouting spooks fish), “Next shot… three feet upstream, and two feet left of the last drift.”I tested the new Motorola Talkabout MS355R radios and they are now my favorite of any I have used or reviewed for Field & Stream. The number one feature is that they’re waterproof. Drop them in the river, and you don’t have to worry. They also float, so you can find them after they fall in without going swimming yourself. They’re not too heavy or bulky, though the electronics are indeed beefy, offering a 35-mile range in flat terrain. In the river canyons, I’ve been able to reach out for a mile or more, which is better than most options. And the rechargeable 3.6 volt batteries should last through a typical fishing day, even if you’re a prolific chatter. I turned this set over to my 12-year-old son and his buddy, and let them do their worst. They’re still crystal clear after being dropped on rocks, left in snow banks, and subjected to sub-freezing temperatures overnight. Another great feature is the price, just under $100 for the pair…»

Fly Fishing Books:  Some Worth Reading Twice (Or More)
One of my favorite quotes came from English literary critic Cyril Connolly, who said: “Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once.” I’ve fallen into a recent pattern of re-reading some of my favorite fly-fishing books. I’m finding that some of the books that got me going in the first place are even more profound and interesting the second (or third… or fourth) time around, especially now that I have many more river miles under my belt. “A River Runs Through It” is so clean, and so honest, I simply cannot read the last three paragraphs of that novella with dry eyes. My own affinity to flowing rivers grows stronger as I grow older myself, I have indeed discovered that “under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.” I am indeed “haunted by waters.” Every single day. “A River Runs Through It” should be mandatory reading, and not just as a point of entry to fly fishing. It should be revisited at least every other year. Thomas McGuane has arguably produced the most eloquent prose on fly-fishing culture ever. Ninety-two in the Shade is iconic. It’s so real and relevant it reverberates like thunder claps over a gray saltwater flat. If you haven’t read it, you must. Ted Leeson is perhaps my favorite writer of all. All his writing is stunning-both in the journalistic (read what he’s done for Field & Stream) and literary contexts. I cannot help myself but to revisit The Habit of Rivers now and then. James Babb is also in his own league. Nobody turns a phrase like Babb. All of his stuff is magic. My favorite, River Music, is definitely worth a double or triple dip. There are, of course, many others worth reading twice or more. Robert Traver (John D. Voelker) hit a chord like no other with Trout Magic. And David James Duncan knocked it out of the park with The River Why.…»

If You Could Fish With Anyone, Past or Present, Who Would It Be?
Fishing, to me, is as much about the people with whom you share the experience as it is about the fish themselves. I fished many times with the late, great Charlie Meyers, with whom I wrote “The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing.” Looking back, I almost feel guilty now for taking some of those jaunts to the river almost for granted. To be sure, I was acutely aware of the honor at the time. But, man, what I would give to lace up the boots one more time with Charlie, so we could wade and talk. I try to think about the lessons he shared when we did fish together, every single time I set out to write a story about these things now. But as the years elapse, I can’t help but wonder if I’m on the right track, and if he’d be proud of the work. I’ve been very fortunate to have shared some great times in beautiful natural places with some of the best anglers in the world. Hemingway would be a trip. That would either go really well, or be a total disaster. And Ben Franklin, though not noted as an angler, intrigues me beyond imagination. Anyone who figured out as much as he did would probably revolutionize fly fishing theory within a matter of a few casts.…»

Old Fishing Gear Just as Good as the New Stuff
Some reels and rods are inevitably much improved, and I love the technical innovations. So what about the old stuff? In pondering this, I decided I could be perfectly happy fishing with the same things I was using 20 years ago. In fact, some of the “old stuff” doesn’t seem old at all and still functions perfectly. Here are some examples: One is Abu Garcia’s round-type baitcast reels. These were a great design decades ago and they still are. There have been various model tweaks over the years, but the fundamental design is unchanged. I still have and use both 5000- and 6000-series models, most often when pike or striper fishing.Similar reasoning applies to much of my fly tackle. I have a Fenwick HMG graphite 9-foot, 5-weight model that I built from a blank in the mid-1970s. The rod still feels very light in the hand and casts superbly. I would have no trouble using it for most of my modern trout fishing. I still lust for new rods and reels, just to try them out and see if they are indeed better. What it does mean, though, is that I might not be quite as quick to abandon old-tackle friends for new ones, no matter how much greener the grass looks. …»

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