I finished reading it quite some time ago and finally made the time to write this short review on “The Fly Caster Who Tried to Make Peace with the World,” by Randy Kadish. Originally I intended to read a little each night and finish this book sometime near the end of my time here in the Smokies. The idea behind this being that it would provide some entertainment each night as I enjoy reading nearly as much as I like to fish. In the end the idea proved to be a bad one, mainly because this book held my attention more and more the farther I got. I ended up finishing it in about three evenings of staying up much later than I should have. It was just impossible to set down.
The thing that really struck me about this book was how familiar it all seemed. The leading character, Ian Mac Bride, becomes a fly fisherman because of the beauty of fly casting. I can still remember when I was very young. My family was vacationing in the Smokies and as we drove up through Townsend towards the park, I looked out the window and saw to fly fisherman making picture-perfect casts in the middle of Little River. Young as I was, I knew that someday I would fly fish
The title sums up the theme of the book. Ian uses fly fishing as an escape from the ugliness of the world around him. It was his way of getting away from everything else and enjoying the beauty of nature which soothes the soul. Fly fishing is my way of relaxing. Even when I’m at school and have an important paper or project, a few hours on the water allows me to leave it all behind and forget the stresses of everyday life.
This book is not only about one single character however. Randy Kadish intertwines the lives and stories of some of the leading pioneers in American fly fishing to produce a thoughtful and entertaining story. The title informs the reader of the struggle going on in the leading character with the sometimes ugly world that we all see. However it is often as much a struggle with the world as it is within himself. Fly fishing seems to be as much an escape from himself as from the world around. Ian desires to be the greatest distance fly caster. The book revolves around his journey from beginner to expert caster. Life brings sadness and suffering but also joy. In the end, Ian faces all his disappointment and hurt from the past and enters one last fly casting tournament. This moment is not just a chance to be the best fly caster but almost seems to be the chance to prove himself. Sometimes in life there are things we feel like we have to do even if we don’t know why. Ian Mac Bride had basically given up distance fly casting but in the end felt the need to try one last time to win a distance tournament.
This book was a great read. The only complaint I have was something that bothered me early on but not as much later on in the book. The storyline seemed to jump between two distinctly different plots. The main plot of course was about Ian Mac Bride and the other doesn’t really seem necessary to the book. However, when all was said and done it didn’t really detract from the book.
As I already mentioned, this book is very easy to relate to. The leading character goes through many of the same struggles and experiences many of the same heartaches as the rest of us. Despite the story being set in the early age of American fly fishing many years ago, it still speaks to the reader. If you enjoy a theme of fly fishing woven into fiction then this book is worth checking out.