Fly fishing, historian Mark Kurlansky has found, is a battle of wits, fly fisher vs. fish--and the fly fisher does not always (or often) win. The allure, Kurlansky learns, is that fly fishing makes catching a fish as difficult as possible. The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing marries Kurlansky's signature wide-ranging reach with a subject that has captivated him for a lifetime--combining history, craft, and personal memoir to show readers, devotees of the sport or not, the necessity of experiencing nature's balm first-hand.
[Kurlansky's] latest, The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing, is on a subject that is clearly dear to his heart. The book offers fascinating chapters on the history of fly fishing and tackle—flies, rods, reels, lines, even waders ... The fishing trivia Mr. Kurlansky cites is often marvelous ... The author is keenly aware of how fly fishing constantly mingles art and absurdity ... Still, you get the feeling that Mr. Kurlansky expected this book not to have the same mass appeal as some of his other titles. Unreasonable Virtue is a solid, workman-like effort, but its author isn’t swinging for the fences. The parts in which Mr. Kurlansky philosophizes and recalls the rivers he has fished—which make up nearly half the book—lose any narrative thread and can be a bit of a slog.
The prolific author returns to an old love ... This being a book by Kurlansky, who never met a fact he didn’t like, the narrative turns from his experiences as a fisherman to a more universal history ... As for rods and flies, Kurlansky geeks out, reciting names that are known to this day ... Stuffed full of trivia, data, lore, and anecdote—a pleasure for any fan of trout fishing.
Journalist Kurlansky [...] enlivens a quotidian subject in this vibrant treatise on fly-fishing ... Alongside personal meditations, Kurlansky provides a wide-ranging history of fly-fishing, noting how it has featured in art, literature, and the lives of political figures ... He enlivens historical explanations with personal anecdotes ... This is a thoroughly enjoyable mash-up of vivid memoir and fastidious, eccentric history.