A Passion For Tarpon is dense.
I received a review copy a long time ago, August I think. I wanted to read through it before commenting. Seven months later, here are my thoughts.
This book surprised me. Hearing some pre-press buzz back in early 2010, I had expectations of this being an ego showcase for Andy Mill, regarded by many to be the best tarpon angler in the world. But it’s not that at all.
It features lengthy, unfiltered interviews with pioneers and legends like Steve Huff, Bill Curtis, Stu Apte, Sandy Moret, Tom McGuane and others. Steve Kantner, (the “Land Captain” and the king of Florida ditch fishing) contributed an essay on the history of chasing tarpon. Interspersed in between the historical chapters, Mill shares his thoughts on gear and technique.
If you’re heavily immersed in the tarpon culture you’ve probably already bought or considered buying this book so this may all be a moot point. But if you’re tangentially around it (like me, excluding ditch babies) I would make the case that the interviews alone make it worth the read. You could take notes from each one and assemble it into a timeline or concentrated history of modern saltwater fly fishing.
My personal favorite is the interview with Steve Huff, who has a wealth of interesting things to say. One here:
One time Sandy Moret and I were in Homosassa. He had on a grizzly fly with a red palmer. He was stripping this fly and this tarpon came up behind it and, you know, kind of sipping around but did not take the fly right away. And it was right on the end of his nose. You could see it. It was early in the morning so the fish was really close–like 20 feet away. He is not stripping it so fast. He is trying to feed this fish. The fish comes up and he takes the tail of the fly. He bites the tail. Sandy does not move it. He then comes up and he bites the center of the fly. We are watching this. And all you can see is the red palmer on his lips, and then he eats the rest in three bites. “
There’s a ton of anecdotes like this in the book. Whether they’re worth the $100 price of admission is up to you. But I dig them.
From Wild River Press.