Tag Archives: Robert Tomes

Degrees of Difficulty


I met up with Robert Tomes, who wrote the book Muskie on the Fly. Not surprisingly, when he fishes saltwater heĀ  chases permit.


“I like fish that don’t like me,” he said.

The comment turned the discussion to mapping the personal evolution of the fly angler.

Making the commitment to learn to cast a fly rod, and then catch fish with it, means you’ve already made a decision to make things harder on yourself.

At the beginning the focus is on just getting that one fish to fall in line. That first fish on the fly is like the stamp on your hand as proof of admission.You never want to wash it off.

Then it becomes kind of a numbers game; success is measured in the amount caught. Some people never grow beyond here, and that’s ok.

But for others the numbers at some point become meaningless.

Defined success gradually comes full circle, returning again to the act of catching a single fish. It evolves into a game about degrees of difficulty, where fishless days do not count as failures but as dues paid towards a singular goal–the one where you put everything together to hook a fish that has no business being hooked, a fish that prior to your presentation had used up every weapon in its arsenal to avoid this predicament. It’s high times.

The clinical term for this is masochism.

BOOK REVIEW: Muskie on the Fly

Having spent many summers on a river where catching a muskellunge is an achievement that gets noted in the local paper, and having witnessed exactly one person hook one on the fly, I’ve looked forward to readingĀ  Muskie on the Fly, by Robert Tomes, as much as any other fly fishing instructional book. As someone who ranks the muskie high on his fly fishing wish list, I am not disappointed.

Muskie on the Fly falls in line with other books from Wild River Press, such as Fly Fishing for Striped Bass, in that it is obsessive, compulsive, and encyclopedic in its depth of coverage. And that it is packaged as an expensive glossy hardcover. As with the striper book, if someone buys this with the intent of leaving it on a coffee table, they are missing out. Reading this book will shorten your dues-paying casts from 10,000 down to about 8,000. (What, you were expecting instant gratification?)

A few years ago I had the opportunity to hear Tomes give a talk on muskie at a local fly fishing show, and he delivered an informative presentation along with a powerpoint slide show of adrenaline-spiking muskie pics. His was the only presentation where I actually learned something. Consider this book the expanded, way more in-depth version of that.

For a quick sample of Muskie on the Fly, check out this excerpt on Midcurrent.