Fly-Fishing—The Sacred Art: Casting a Fly as a Spiritual Practice

In this unique exploration of fly-fishing as a spiritual practice, an Episcopal priest and a rabbi share what it can teach us about awe and wonder in the natural world, the benefits of solitude, the blessing of community and the search for the Divine.

Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer and Rev. Michael Attas, MD
Foreword by Chris Wood, CEO, Trout Unlimited
Preface by Lori Simon, executive director, Casting for Recovery

5½ x 8½, 160 pp | 978-1-59473-299-7

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Discover the spiritual potential hidden in every cast of the fly rod.

“For us, fly-fishing is about more than catching fish. We have been skunked on the stream too many times to count, and stood shivering in our waders in 45-degree water long after sundown. Yet, every chance we get, we head back to the river in search of trout and something more.”

—from Rabbi Eric’s Introduction

“Early in my fly-fishing career I remember telling a friend that there is so much to learn! Some forty years later, that is still true. Every trip I learn something new about rivers, fish and the natural world. Most importantly, I learn something new about myself. Every encounter with the waters of our planet draws me deeper into who I am and who I want to become.”

—from Reverend Mike’s Introduction

In this unique exploration of fly-fishing as a spiritual practice, an Episcopal priest and a rabbi share what fly-fishing has to teach us about reflection, awe and the wonder of the natural world, the benefits of solitude, the blessing of community and the search for the Divine. Tapping the wisdom in the Christian and Jewish traditions and their own geographically diverse experiences on the water, they show how time spent on the stream can help you navigate the currents and eddies of your own inner journey.

“Offers beautiful and original perspectives on a pastime that for many is a kind of religion. They find common ground in the rivers they fish and the spiritual truths they encounter. Lovely, learned, personal, heart-warming and instructional.”

James Prosek, author, Trout: An Illustrated History and Fly-Fishing the 41st:
From Connecticut to Mongolia and Home Again—A Fisherman’s Odyssey

“[A] fascinating spiritual journey.”

“Tastefully integrates valuable fly-fishing principles, accounts of adventures and deep spiritual truths that we can all apply to our lives and reflect on when we are on the water.”

Italo Labignan, television host, Canadian Sportfishing

“Clearly [shows] we are all united in our spirit…. A great read for anyone who cares about people, the conservation of our planet or learning to fly-fish.”

Sherry Steele, communications chair, Federation of Fly Fishers National Board of Directors

“An interesting and compelling tome on the angler’s rationale.... Insightful, heartfelt and very entertaining.”

Trout: The Journal of Coldwater Fisheries Conservation

“Wonderfully written, inspirational … thoughtful and articulate, a careful read of this exceptional book will make you a better fly-angler, but more importantly, it will make you a better person.”

Todd Larson, PhD, history professor, Xavier University; publisher, Whitefish Press; creator, the Fishing for History blog

“A great, great resource. Fun, full of (tall?) fish tales and some meditative ideas about finding God in the outdoors.”

Hearts and Minds Bookstore blog

“Help[s] explain why so many people have ascribed spiritual meaning to this sport, and it does so in a way that will help others find such meaning in this pastime as well.”

Kenneth H. Lokensgard, PhD, creator, the Literary Fly Fisher blog

“I loved this book. Both men write beautifully, lyrically, poetically about ... the connection, the preparation for and act of fly-fishing. You will enjoy it. The words will ‘take’ you there.”

John Lionberger, author, Renewal in the Wilderness:
A Spiritual Guide to Connecting with God in the Natural World

“I have attempted to develop some kind of spirituality into my fishing, but have barely scratched the surface compared to these two anglers. It was enjoyable reading how they brought their religion into their fishing, truly making it a spiritual exercise.... An easy read and a delight.”

Iowa Driftless chapter, Trout Unlimited

“Delves into the spiritual side of the sport while inspiring the reader to do some soul-searching and to appreciate the beauty of nature around us.”

Foreword: Chris Wood, CEO, Trout Unlimited v
Preface: Lori Simon, executive director, Casting for Recovery ix
Introduction: Rabbi Eric xi
Introduction: Reverend Mike xv

Chapter One In the Beginning
Preparing for the River 1
The Fly-Angler's Gear Checklist 11
Reflection Questions 12
Exercise: The Significance of Your Gear 13

Chapter Two Getting There
Escaping the Everyday 15
Reflection Questions 31
Exercise: Meditative Walking to the River 31

Chapter Three Being There
Wading into the Stream and into Yourself 33
Reflection Questions 48
Exercise: The Basics of Fly-Casting 49
Exercise: Improving Your Fly-Casting with Lefty Krehճ Five Principles 51

Chapter Four Homecoming
Peace and Harmony at the End of the Day 53
Reflection Questions 61
Exercise: Five-Step Meditation for
the End of the Day 62

Chapter Five Common Ground
Fishing with Friends 65
Reflection Questions 79
Exercise: Become a Part of a
Fly-Fishing Community 79

Chapter Six Unfamiliar Terrain
Fishing Far from Home 81
Reflection Questions 96
Exercise: Keep a Fly-Fishing Travel Journal 97

Chapter Seven Fly-Tying
A Recipe for Creativity 99
Reflection Questions 106
Exercise: Tie Your Own Fly 106

Chapter Eight Stewardship and Conservation
Giving Back to the Stream 109
Reflection Questions 123
Exercise: Get Involved to Protect the Rivers You Fish 124

Acknowledgments 127
Notes 129
Suggestions for Further Reading 131
Fly-Fishing Resources 133