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Book review: ‘On Fly-Fishing the Northern Rockies’ offers angler wisdom


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"ON FLY-FISHING THE NORTHERN ROCKIES: Essays and Dubious Advice," by Chadd VanZanten and Russ Beck, The History Press, $19.99, 124 pages (nf)

“On Fly-Fishing the Northern Rockies: Essays and Dubious Advice” is a collection of “mostly true” fishing tales written by two dedicated anglers, Chadd VanZanten and Russ Beck.

VanZanten and Beck have captured the essence and philosophy of fly-fishing in this often humorous, occasionally irreverent book. It’s not a hands-on, how-to guide, but genuine reflections on life as experienced through fly-fishing.

The dubious advice is illustrated by the chapter titles, such as: “Rule 1: If You’re Not Going to Fish Alone, You Should Probably Bring Someone With You,” “Rule 2: Fish Where You’re At,” “Rule 4: All the Fish Are Under Water” and “Rule 9: Always Tell the Truth Sometimes.”

In Appendix B of the two brief appendices following the nine short chapters of essay, Beck ruminates on how people resemble various species of trout.

“Rainbow trout remind me of the rich lawyers and doctors who retired in my little hometown and bought up land where I once moved irrigation pipes in alfalfa fields,” he writes. “Brookies always show up late. … Brown trout somehow know everyone in town,” and cutthroat are “… just good folk with clean, calloused hands.”

Black-and-white photos of scenic rivers, fishing flies and happy anglers holding their trophies are strewn throughout the book, which also contains a center section of beautiful colored photos featuring the previously mentioned subjects.

The authors’ often poetic prose reflects not only a passion for fly-fishing but also a respect and love for God’s creations. It's an enjoyable read — even for those who may not know a brook trout from a rainbow.

There is occasional mild profanity but no sexual content or described violence.

Rosemarie Howard enjoys creating multimedia projects. Her website is at