Everyone loves a good fishing story. Here are four of our picks.

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America’s Favorite Flies

By John Bryan and Rob Carter
Charles Creek Publishing

America’s Favorite Flies is likely the longest, most collaborative love letter to fly-fishing in the sport’s long history. The prodigious book pairs full-page spreads of a caster’s single, favorite fly with essays that deliver glimpses into why it is the imitation of choice. Not the most used fly, or even most effective, but the favorite. There are flies that catch a lot of fish, flies that caught the one fish and flies that bind relationships.

A collaborative symphony of more than 220 anglers — including such luminaries as President Jimmy Carter, A.D. Maddox, Yvon Chouinard, Tom McGuane, Joan Wulff and Lefty Kreh — the book attempts, in Whitmanesque fashion, to sing the entire body of American fly-fishing.

The commitment to the images alone sets this assemblage apart, earning it a place beside the finest coffee-table books. Any admirer will be impressed with the selection and breadth of the paintings Bryan and Carter acquired to accent the photographs.

Like most anglers and their fly boxes, America’s Favorite Flies is overflowing. The busy format of “Favorite Fly Stories” juxtaposes the simplicity and sharpness of the professional-level fly plates with selfies from laptop cameras and profile pictures for LinkedIn. These additions could be trimmed, but then we might lose the “revelations of personalities” that as a collective make this tome an idiosyncratic assemblage for those of us who love the art of the fly and the places it takes us.

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The Deer Camp

By Dean Kuipers
Bloomsbury Publishing

The Deer Camp, Dean Kuipers’ candid account of his fissured family leaves readers suspended in the intertwined world of landscape reflecting people, people reflecting landscape and how they mend each other.

The impact of his father’s masculine mentorship highlights the compartmentalizing nature of emotionally strained relationships. The uneven displays of affection between father and sons begs for a medium that will help clarify and strengthen this bond. The woods — and within them the hunting, fishing and trapping — provides these intimate moments. “Dad joined us for dinner that night, and the four birds we’d bagged that day made us a family again for an hour or two.”

This book is necessary reading for sons, daughters and parents who are still seeking (or have found) the riffles, meadows or mountains where they may see those closest to them in that most slanting light.

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Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel

By Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo
Patagonia Publishing

In a world of a thousand rods, reels, lines and flies, the desire to return to simpler means of catching trout becomes more attractive with every passing season. Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo provide a complete guide for both the seasoned and beginning angler hoping to streamline their tactics.

Though the text focuses predominately on Tenkara fishing — a Japanese style of fly-fishing where there is no reel, only a single length of line attached to the end of the rod — the authors also address techniques specific to rod-and-reel fishing. The trout-centric text details the flies, food, cover and environments from the American West to the mountains of Italy.

With a forward by Russell Chatham and paintings by James Prosek, this body of knowledge draws from some of the most influential members of America’s fly-fishing community. The book as artifact is filled with stunning photography and educational illustrations that will have you dreaming about your next time on the water.

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Deep Water Blues

By Fred Waitzkin
Open Road Integrated Media

Fred Waitzkin’s saltwater-soaked novella sets the reader in a world where things are falling apart. The island of Rum Cay peers out of the sea like an eye on the verge of blinking. Years before, tips by millionaires and blue marlin of trophy proportion were common. The inclusion of a French chef checks the last box that would make this locale a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway and Jim Harrison. But now that the Miami boats don’t make the run and fish are scarce, every threat — from the mainland to the surrounding water — is elevated.

Waitzkin balances the action of offshore fishing and the failing island community in the same way the characters must balance the trauma of the past and the events they witness unfolding. This compact book is accented with illustrations by John Mitchell, which reflect the gritty and seemingly washed up presence of this place. Like the stories of the sea that have come before, Deep Water Blues hopes to portray the fear and allure of the ocean’s massive force.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Anglers Journal magazine.

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The first time I ever paid to go fishing was when I took a trip to Iceland in 1980. I had never fished for Atlantic salmon and was looking for some romance, as well as for a new experience in a new land.