Royal Coachman: The Lore and Legends of Fly-Fishing

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9780684842462: Royal Coachman: The Lore and Legends of Fly-Fishing

Chronicles the history of fly-fishing and analyzes its development while discussing the charms of different flies, both the natural-looking and the royal coachman pattern, and offers wise, and philosophical anecdotes

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Review:

Sailing on prose as liquid as the streams and lakes he fishes, Schullery, one of angling's most prolific and elegant chroniclers, casts some fine lines that gently lure us into his lovely meditations on the development of fly-fishing and its literature. "Though we pride ourselves on our pragmatism," he observes in "The Fisherman's Chaucer," a lovely tribute to Juliana Berners, the medieval mother of all fishing scribes, "at times most of us harbor a very nearly occult obsession with some imagined higher awareness, a state of knowing that will give us the right lure, the right bait, the right rod, the right sequence of profanity--whatever it is that we're plainly not doing now that will be revealed to us, and we will become that most envied and lionized of fishermen--The Expert."

Throughout Coachman's 14 individual reflections, Schullery continually roots around that occult obsession as he traces the evolution of fly-fishing from English streams to New England pools and the rushing waters of the American West. He is haunted by imaginings of the perfect dry fly, the genesis of a species of angler he calls trout bum, and the wisdom he can glean from tools of the trade left behind by fishermen past. Like all devoted anglers, he's a wonderfully inclusive storyteller. You don't have to know the origins of a Royal Coachman to be hooked; Schullery's wit and grace are enough to reel in the appreciative reader in everyone. --Jeff Silverman

From the Author:

Paul Schullery's Royal Coachman is a book about the lore, lure, and history of fly-fishing. "Fly-fishing is this great adventure we have in a thousand little episodes," he says, and in this book he writes about some of them with charm and wit. Reflecting on the history of the sport, from its reputed origins in Europe centuries past (and casting a suspicious eye on the so-called first fly-fishing author, who published five hundred years ago) to its more recent history in the United States (where, says Schullery, the founding fathers might have ventured out to Philadelphia's streamside banks for a little relaxation), Schullery recounts some of his own experiences as well as those of some of fly-fishing's legendary and quirky practitioners. "Knowing more about early American trout fishing only allows me to stretch that connection back further, to give me even more stories to remember, and more dreams to share," he writes.

Schullery celebrates some lesser-known fishermen and some seldom-appreciated waters, such as the limestone streams of Pennsylvania. He muses on the pursuit of the ever-more perfectly "natural" fly and contrasts that quest with the storied success of the royal coachman, perhaps the gaudiest fly ever invented. He writes about rods, about his fellow fishing writers, about fishing etiquette, and about the true definition of a "trout bum" (his requirements are surprisingly rigorous). He compares trout fishing in the East with trout fishing in the Rockies, both of which he has done for extended periods of time.

This is an irresistible book, written with grace, humor, and intelligence. Trout magazine called Schullery "our preeminent angling historian" while the Los Angeles Times referred to him as "a keen raconteur" and Newsweek dubbed him fly-fishing's "gentle ironist." Royal Coachman is his finest book yet.

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