August 13th, 2019
I accidentally found out about The Curtis Creek Manifesto from Huge Fly Fisherman and one of his characteristically snarky but sweet comments on reddit.
I googled the term and discovered Sheridan Anderson the author. There’s pitifully little written about the author, who grows more impressive as I continue grok the magnitude of what he accomplished.
Like all true works of art, it will take you a while to unpack just how much is packed into this slim volume. At first glance, it looks like something out of a 1960’s time capsule (published in 1968) but as you spend time with the book, and reread it, you will see that it holds more information per page than any fishing book ever written, despite the fact that more than half the page is usually covered in cartoon drawings. I’ve re-read it several times now and this author achieved exactly what he set out to achieve.
Mr.Anderson states his intentions right from the outset:
The major difficulty with most How-to Fishing books is that of trying to figure out what the author is talking about–The beginner is assaulted with page after page of text which he must translate into visual images before he can even begin to understand it. Also, most primers fail because they are so highly overwritten that the novice becomes hopeless buried under an avalanche of information, much of which is only vaguely incidental to a firm grasp of the basics, and thus serving only to confuse the issues…In actuality, most anglers learned how to fish in spite of the textbooks, rather than because of them.
And then he both shows and tells the hows and more importantly, The Whys to the strategies and tactics of fly fishing that feel as fresh and as applicable to modern day euronyphing as they were to Joe Humprey’s Trout Tactics, back in the day; another book I highly recommend but I urge you to first read The Manifesto first and then you will get so much more out of Humprey’s book when you get to it.
So you may asking yourself, why are you recommending a book published in 1968 that has more to do with the Haight-Ashbury in SF then some Appalachian mountain stream? Why aren’t you recommending George Daniel’s Dynamic Nymphing or Devin Olsen’s Tactical Fly Fishing? Because while both are great books and are as up to date as anything in the competitive fly fishing world, they are not for beginners, because they make way too many assumptions on what the beginner angler already knows how to do.
Having read both books, I can tell you that The Manifesto repeats what is important in clear and bold text, and with elegant, amusing cartoons that stick in your head and form a better mental map (at least for me) on what to actually do when you are fly fishing;
I implore you to grab a copy if you are at all interested in learning how to fly fish, or buy one for someone you know that is interested, and you will give them the best, most humorous start in the art of fly fishing possible.