Jim Casada, a native of Bryson City in Western North Carolina, shares his lifelong love of fly fishing in this encyclopedic book. Anyone interested in fly fishing in the Great Smokies will find this book invaluable, but there is plenty for other readers as well. Casada’s years of training as a historian have served him well as he explores the history of fly fishing and the varieties of fish found in the Smokies. Those who have enjoyed Casada’s chatty, anecdote-filled style of writing will love this book. He sprinkles stories of old time fishermen throughout its pages as well as his own lively stories from childhood.
The book becomes an invitation into the mysteries of an ancient skill. Stories about the sport provide a context for every detail anyone would need to venture onto a mountain stream with a fly rod. The reader will find information on safety and equipment for the fly fisherman, as well as various techniques including fishing with dry flies, wet flies, and streamer fishing. Casada highlights each of the 35 creeks in the Smokies, with information on the correct maps to utilize area motels or campgrounds, directions to the creek, and descriptions of trails that lead to the “back of beyond,” a phrase from Horace Kephart that Casada uses as a theme for exploring the park.
There are recipes for trout, which Casada and his wife developed, and a final chapter in which he explores some of the environmental pressures on fish in Smoky Mountain streams. The appendices include lists of backcountry campgrounds for each area of the park, graphs indicating stream elevations, charts of monthly temperature and rainfall data, lists of resources such as guide services, outfitters, and park regulations. A pictorial essay celebrates the sport with marvelous historical photographs of fly fishing and its devotees, as well as spectacular scenic photographs and plenty of modern fly fishing as well. There’s also a map of the park and an extensive bibliography. Truly, Casada is a man in love with his subject. As he says: “A Smoky Mountain stream has figuratively—and gives literally—soul, spirit, and life.”
Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: An Insider’s Guide to a Pursuit of Passion by Jim Casada. High Country Press, 2009.