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The Curtis Creek Manifesto
You will have to look a long way for a better and funnier introduction to fly fishing, which at the same time can serve you as a fly fishing mini-bible for many years.
Ever read any of Robert Crumb's underground comics? Or Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers? Liked them? Then you will probably love this book too.
Subtract some rude language, a lot of obscenity, a great deal of politics and uncountable illegal substances.
Add streams, fly rods, flies and some practical and poetic prose about fly fishing.
You now have something that resembles the Curtis Creek Manifesto by Sheridan Andreas Mulholland Anderson - as it appears from the inside of the cover, a colorful character, who penned this little strike of genius back in 1978, and apparently never published a word since.
Not a comic
To lend justice: this is in most respects far from an underground comic book. It would be unfair to liken it to a comic. It might look like one at first sight, but it is a very serious fly fishing book with some extremely useful and sound advice on fly fishing.
It is an absolute coup as an introduction to a new fly fisher - young or old. Easy to read, easy to understand and even easy to pay. I paid 8 US$ for my copy, but would gladly have paid the list price, which is about 13 US$.
For whatever amount you pay, you get what appears to be a 50 page comic book. It is drawn in rough and elaborate lines and shapes, done in black and white and imprinted with large handwritten types.
Though dominated by drawings, the book has quite a lot of text, and even though it cannot be read as such - from upper left hand corner to bottom right - there is enough text to read even for the seasoned fly fisher.
Thou shalt fish upstream
The book deals with stream fishing only, so if you are focused solely on saltwater, you might not find it as educating as I did. You will learn things, sure, but they might be specifically about your kind of fishing. But the lessons learned can be applied to any kind of fly fishing, and the entertainment value is equally good no matter whether you are a spring creek dry fly connoisseur or a salt water fly flinger.
Anderson illustrates all his points with stream examples, but most of his advice will do fine elsewhere. And illustrate he does! As it might be obvious now, this book is dominated by drawings, and laid out in a comic book manner, where illustrations and text meanders over the pages, small characters speak in bubbles, funny looking animals add comments and structure and system seems to be totally lacking.
In spite of the lack of order, there is an ample coverage of such vast subjects as rod selection, gearing up, casting methods, rod repair and even fly tying. Nothing in depth, but enough to learn and want to learn more.
Only in one area does Anderson submerge in so much detail that even experienced really learn new things, and that is in his coverage of approaching fish and presenting the fly to them. Andersons main message is "crawl!". Creeping, bowing, crawling and by all means keeping stealth is his main advice, and very good too.
The pages about the actual fishing is really the best in the book, but as a whole it is way above the average of most basic books and well worth a look from the rest of us, who think we know so much.
Definitely and all time classic and definitely a global class book!
You will have to look a long time for a better and funnier introduction to fly fishing, which at the same time can serve you as a fly fishing mini-bible for many years.