Review: Taylor Streit’s ‘Instinctive Fly Fishing’ a success

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With the second edition of "Instinctive Fly Fishing: A Guide's Guide to Better Trout Fishing," storied Taos fly master Taylor Streit delivers a funny, informative, and honest look at the world of fly fishing.

As the title suggests, the book's main focus is on internalizing the experience of what, he admits, is often a frustrating sport. He urges the reader to trust an instinctive look at the sport as the key to happiness and success on the river, lake, or anywhere in between. In this edition, Streit said he "explains a lot of things better," along with adding and expanding sections on travel, casting, trout species, drift boat fishing, and, most importantly, a section on the many types of tangles and their remedies. What stands out in Streit's writing and advice is the sheer breadth of his experience.

He's not shy about his lengthy and successful career as a fly fishing guide, nor about his collaborations with anglers from around the world, which works to his advantage. His tips are backed up by an air of confidence. Raised in upstate New York, Streit came to Taos "in a turquoise 1956 station wagon" and lived on a commune, where, along with cleaning dishes and picking weeds, he caught fish for consumption by the group.

Later, he was part of the group of fishermen who were the first to discover the magic of the San Juan River, which is now one of the most hallowed fishing rivers in the world. Now, Streit fishes to scope out waters as part of his job, but has mostly retired from guiding. He said now he has time to do some "old man fishing" and writes as part of his growing conservation work.

Most importantly, the idea of internalizing the practice of fishing is, in this book, related heavily to accepting the realities of the fishing life that go beyond fishing itself. Streit relates successful fishing to such abilities as trusting the general public to be too lazy to find the best spots. He has much to say about the secrecy that goes hand-in-hand with maintaining claimed fishing holes, and even explains the art of making excuses for less-than-impressive outings.

"You learn while guiding that the real important factors are totally different than what you perceive that they are when you're an amateur," he said.

On the topic of an evolving fishing culture in the country, Streit provided an example of the changing times that isn't so far from home.

"People are not as willing to go to the effort to fish, walking," he said. "The Río Grande is probably fished less in the canyon where you have to hike now than it was 20 or 30 years ago."

This book is not for the absolute beginner, but contains a wealth of information on all facets of the fishing experience. Written by Taos' own master, with a special emphasis on fishing in Northern New Mexico, "Instinctive Fly Fishing" is perfect for Taos' fly fishing enthusiasts.

Streit will have a book signing Saturday (July 28), 2-4 p.m. at Taos Fly Shop. "Instinctive Fly Fishing," $16.95, illustrated by Peter Chadwell, is published by Lyons Press.

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