From the irrepressible author of Trout Bum and The View from Rat Lake comes an engaging, humorous, often profound examination of life's greatest mysteries: sex, death, and fly-fishing.
John Gierach's quest takes us from his quiet home water (an ordinary, run-of-the-mill trout stream where fly-fishing can be a casual affair) to Utah's famous Green River, and to unknown creeks throughout the Western states and Canada. We're introduced to a lively group of fishing buddies, some local "experts" and even an ex-girlfriend, along the way
Contemplative, evocative, and wry, he shares insights on mayflies and men, fishing and sport, life and love, and the meaning (or meaninglessness) of it all.
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 15, 1990)
- ISBN-10: 067168437X
- ISBN-13: 978-0671684372
- ASIN: B0025VL9DY
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
Amusing views of flyfishing, worth a few chuckles
John Gierach is one of the better-known names in the flyfishing literature, and he continues his tradition of lively, entertaining anecdotes in this volume. Although his often-biting tone can get somewhat tiresome, the book nevertheless has some very amusing stories – a couple of them downright hilarious. Although everybody will find aspects of the book worthwhile, anglers (especially flyfisherfolk) will see aspects of themselves reflected here, and laugh heartily
It’s About the Bugs
Prurient readers titillated by the title will be disappointed. The only references to sex and death in this book have to do with the behavior of bugs – mayflies that is.
Here’s an example. “A mayfly spinner lies on the surface of the stream in what fishermen call the `spent’ position. To picture it accurately remember that the insect has just had the first and only orgasm of its life and is now, in the natural course of things, dying from it. His body lies flush with the water, wings spread, legs out flat, tails splayed wistfully. Usually he’s limp. If he struggles at all, he does it feebly at best. There’s probably a silly look on his face, although it’s hard to tell with insects”.
So accept it. What this book really is about is fly fishing, and the sex and death are there just to hook you. But can this kind of stuff also reel you in? You’ll find yourself wading through material such as the following: “I tied on a #14 Michigan Chocolate spinner, a fly that A.K. had turned me onto years before. This thing has fine split tails of pale dun hackle fibers, spent hen hackle wings of the same color, and a thinly dubbed, dark brown body…”.
You would think that this kind of gobbledygook would be accessible and interesting to hard core fisherpeople only, but it’s not the case. I’ve never fly fished, and I was captivated by it.
I think the author puts it well: “I don’t know exactly what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it’s something we need to know”.
The Birds and the Bees?
The book is a collection of essays written more about fly-fishing than sex. The writing is crisp and avoids any notion of being “flowery.” Gierach is at his best when things go bad – real bad. In the context of fishing that is. The worst fishing conditions bring out his laser-focused wit in Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing. And nobody or nothing is off-limits. He’ll take a swing at “selective” trout and those “tweed-coat” types along with anyone else who happens to be near where he’s fishing. A good example which had me laughing was “The Drought Years.”
But it’s not all laughs. Gierach has the unusual talent of sneaking in very lucid observations. Just when you think he’s going to continue on his comedic-roll… Bang, he hits you with a simple truth of the matter. A truth you probably knew, but never saw put in words so simply and clearly.
Gierach can even render the philosophical without sounding philosophical. Again, he finds a way to express a concept like an “ecosystem” in terms I think we can all understand:
“A good ecologist can dovetail into dovetail until the whole thing stretches out of sight. We call it an ecosystem now; earlier Americans called it the Sacred Circle. Either way it can make your little head swim with a vision of a thing of great size and strength that still depends on the underpinning of its smallest members.”
Makes sense… So, maybe it is about the birds and bees afterall.
I Want to Go Fishing
After reading this book I want to go fishing.
The author does a good job of describing the special joys of this passtime. His writing paints a beautiful picture that draws in even the uninitiated.
Recommended for fishermen and non fishermen alike.
This book was well worth reading, even thought it does not teach us anything new. Gierach is very humorous and makes even the most mundane things interesting.
Escape with this book
I read this book while vacationing in Yosemite, but it would have made for a great armchair read too. You know, to read when you can’t get away from the daily grind. This author has written plenty of books, countless articles, and is well known in the fly fishing world so I don’t need to tell you much about him. What I will say is that he knows how to capture the moments and put them to paper.
what a ride!
we have a great gift – John G.’s books – I’ve got them all but one and they are treasured. This one is as good as any of them – get them all, I treasure mine.
This is a great read. The author takes gives you an inside look into fanatic fly fishermen – with tongue in cheek often enough to keep it moving along and interesting. Whether you fish or not, I recommend this, excellent writer, excellent reading.
Had me laughing out loud in the resort café. John Gierach captures the very essence of the sport….and will make your sides hurt while doing it!
Sex, Death and Flyfishing
Very entertaining. A great read for anyone interested in flyfishing or any other form of fishing.
Sex, Death And Fly Fishing
Sex, Death And Fly Fishing
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