Last week a good friend of mine who is a picker (basically a buyer and seller of junk for the uninitiated) called me with an item he thought I might be interested in. I had informed him a few weeks ago that I was in the market for a large bookcase, and luckily he had finally run across a really nice one at an estate sale.
With the new book case setup in my office, I started unpacking my old library, it dawned on me that as much as I hate to say it, much of what was in there I had completely forgotten I even had. Among other subjects, there were a variety of books on rod building, fly tying, and of course, casting. "The Cast" by Ed Jaworowski was one of the first books I purchased that was extremely helpful when I started fly fishing. So were multiple titles by Lefty Kreh, George Roberts, and a few others. There is one however that hovers mightily above all the rest....and not just because of its outstanding instructional content. Fly Casting from the Beginning by Jimmy Green.
Back in 2001, I had the great privilege to interview Jimmy Green for Rodmaker Magazine. I have referenced that interview here before in a previous front page entitled "Friends". That interview with Jimmy was, as far as I know, the last one he ever did before he passed away in 2004. In fact, it has even been archived on this site since 2006 or so. Aside from being a world champion caster, Jimmy was a renowned rod designer, a cutting edge fly line designer, and an great all-around guy. I was aware that Jimmy had written a book back in the early 1970s, but it had long been out of print and was quite hard to locate. Luckily, I was able to procure a copy in 2002 through an eBay auction that was still in great condition.
Throughout my 6 year long association as a writer with Rodmaker Magazine, I had the great privilege of interviewing many of the great rod designers, most of whom are in fact no longer with us. I always made it a point to stay in touch with them post interview to make sure they knew that the time they were so generous to give to me was not just a means to an end....and Jimmy was no exception. I tried to call him every couple of months just say "hello", and see how he was doing. We would talk mostly about rod design, casting, and some of his more memorable experiences and achievements from spending a lifetime in the fishing industry.
When I finally located a copy of his book, before even reading it, I immediately phoned Jimmy and asked if he would autograph it for me. He, of course, replied with an enthusiastic YES! I sent him the book, and a couple of weeks later he returned it with a nice personal note on the inside cover. It was at this point that I read it front to back and realized that this by far was the most precise and succinct description of a proper fly cast that I had ever read. It is an outstanding instructional text with almost 100% of the information still being relevant almost 50 years later.
My copy of Fly Casting from the Beginning now resides not in a cardboard box in a dark closet, but within easy reach for regular reference. And although I am much closer to mastering the information contained within than I was almost 20 years ago, I foresee myself reading it with predictable regularity for the simple reason that it reminds me of one of the many good friends I made through rod building and fly fishing. And if you're of the mind to do so, keep your eyes peeled on one of the many online auction sites for a copy. You never know when one might pop up. Not only is it a prized piece of vintage fly fishing literature, it is also both literally and figuratively an "open book" into the mind of one of the greatest casters our sport has ever known.
Hope you have a great week,