I have a sizable collection of fly fishing books. Sometimes I’ll review one. I’ll keep it under 500 words. Any longer and you should just go read the book. Expect slander, personal opinion, and unbridled honesty. I like both books and fly fishing too much to be nice.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t finish this book. There are a number of reasons but the primary one is that I found the authorial voice annoying. The premise of the book is fantastic. I love the notion of fly fishing around the world on the 41st parallel. I think that James Prosek hit on something vital and important when he conceived this book, namely that fishing books aren’t necessarily about fishing. A lot of the time, at least in the really good fishing books, fishing happens along the way or alongside something bigger. If you’ve read A River Runs Through It, the blueprint for all fly fishing books, then you know what I’m talking about. So traveling the globe on the 41st parallel and fishing along the way sounded like a great framework around which to hang some fishing stories.
Prosek had me across the Atlantic, he had me through Paris and France, and lost me almost immediately after. Awkward conversations with people along the way, the author’s forced-feeling realizations and awakenings, and events that are dressed up to look more consequential than they are pepper the book. The other characters feel cheap and the author is consistently caught up in his own sense of ongoing personal revelation. And lord does James Prosek love an adjective.
The watercolors are the best part of this book. I own Prosek’s Trout of the World and it is fantastic, a truly wonderful showcase of his talents with a paintbrush. I’d recommend that book to anyone that takes trout even moderately seriously. That being said, Fly Fishing the 41st would get a lukewarm recommendation at best.