Salt is all about salt water fly fishing, a subject I admit I know very little about. I fish fresh water lakes for crappie, bluegill and bass. The largest fish I've ever caught was Coho salmon on Lake Michigan. I've never gone fly fishing or fished salt water. This book introduced me to salt water fly fishing in a way that mesmerized me. It's a graceful and elegant dance in tandem with the elements, sometimes peaceful and quiet and other times raging and tumultuous. It is not a passive sport and you will use all your senses as you chase the fish with your fly.
The book is broken down into eight chapters....
- Supporting Cast
- Fishing Buddies
The chapter on boats goes into detail on some of the vessels that Tom has had the pleasure of fishing from over the years. He has run the gamut in terms of boats and their captains and describes the differences. When it comes to finding fish, each fly fishermen has his own particular preference for type. And like Captain Ahab, they often develop an unbridled quest to catch that fish, although they will venture off and hunt for other species from time to time.
When it comes to fly fishing tackle, you need, well, flies. Flies are available to purchase, but many fishermen prefer to tie their own, using favored materials like the hairs from a whitetail deer or saddle hackles from a rooster. Flies come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors and the hot fly of the moment can catch some awesome fish. This chapter really resonated with me because my husband, in his never ending pursuit of bass, is always on the lookout for the hot lure of the week. There also seems to be something creative and therapeutic about the process of tying ones own flies, not to mention the sense of pride when one actually catches fish with it then.
Using a fishing guide is not necessary but is often helpful. I enjoyed the brief history about the early guides in the Florida Keys. Apparently it's a highly competitive field and deep client/guide relationships often develop over the years. Guides are hard working and their lifestyle is regimented. It's not merely a matter of jumping in the boat and cruising around, looking for fish. It's also long hours spend e-mailing clients, booking trips, checking weather patterns, coming up with a game plan based on each individual client's requests, telling stories and of course, finding and ultimately catching fish. It's a long day and a good guide has to love what he is doing. This was my favorite chapter of the book and probably because Tom did a great job in capturing the personality of many of his favorite guides.
The Supporting Cast chapter was not what I expected. I had thought it would be about Tom's friends that he fishes with, but instead it's about the amazing wildlife he's had the opportunity to observe over the years. Creatures like sea urchins and octopus, whales and turtles, birds of great numbers and variety, stingrays, sharks and crabs, and even a crocodile. Fly fishing lets you view Mother Nature in all her finery.
The photos, by Andy Anderson, are vibrant in color and often full or double page. They capture the serenity of a calm day, the stunning flavor of a sunrise and the turmoil of a churning ocean. Pictures of hooked tarpon, leaping and exploding from the foam, will place you right in the middle of the action. You can easily imagine yourself floating over the waters surface, eyes scanning the horizon for signs of fish. The sea foam green and turquoise colors of the ocean are dappled with sparkling sunlight, moss drips from trees in Florida and the skies roil and darken under the threat of an approaching storm. Many of the photographs are so clear and colorful that I almost want to tear them from the book and frame them. I want to visit the places and drink in the colors and the textures.
Salt: Coastal and Flats Fishing is a high end coffee table book about salt water fly fishing that is easily affordable. Tom's narrative in each chapter will transport you into the world of fly fishing and Andy's photos will drop you into the action. The combination of the two builds a good argument on why you should get out there and give fly fishing a try. From a girl who is an avid fan of fresh water fishing, this is the ultimate compliment. Is there anything as wonderful as walking barefooted along the shore, rod in hand, searching out the elusive fish? Where do I sign up?
(I was provided an advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. All photos are property of Rizzoli Publishing and cannot be reproduced)