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Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon Hardcover – Illustrated, September 1, 2020
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"You will love this book." --Michael Keaton
"The writing is breathtaking...a masterpiece." --Wright Thompson
"The most compelling non-fiction book I've read in years."
--Randy Wayne White
From the bestselling author of Saban, 4th and Goal, and Sowbelly comes the thrilling, untold story of the quest for the world record tarpon on a fly rod, a tale that reveals as much about Man as it does about the fish.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, something unique happened in the quiet little town on the west coast of Florida known as Homosassa. The best fly anglers in the world all gathered together to chase the same Holy Grail--the world record for the most glamorous and coveted fly rod species, the tarpon.
The anglers spent all day on the water competing and would gather each night to socialize and party--some harder than others. And the world record fell nearly every year. But records weren't the only things that were broken: hooks, lines, rods, reels, hearts and marriages didn't survive, either. The egos involved made the atmosphere electric. The difficulty of the quest made it legitimate. And the vices that swept in with the tide made it all veer out of control. It was a collision of circumstances that was unprecedented in the world of fishing and one that will never be seen again.
In Lords of the Fly, Monte Burke, an obsessed tarpon fly angler himself, delves into this seminal moment and the growing popularity of the amazing tarpon, a fifty-million-year-old species that can live to eighty years old and can grow to three hundred pounds. This massive, leaping, bullet train of a fish, when hooked in shallow water, produces "immediate unreality," as the late poet and tarpon obsessive, Richard Brautigan, once described it.
Lords of the Fly ties together the lives of the biggest names in angling--Ted Williams, Stu Apte, Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallot, Thomas McGuane, Billy Pate, Tom Evans, and Steve Huff--as well as present-day stars like Andy Mill, David Mangum and Nathaniel Linville.
Alongside the story of the world-record pursuit, Burke also chronicles the heartbreaking destruction of the fishery brought on by greed, environmental degradation and the shenanigans of a notorious Miami gangster--and how all of it has shaped contemporary tarpon fishing.
Filled with larger-than-life characters and vivid prose, Lords of the Fly is not only a must read for anglers of all stripes, but also for those interested in the desperate yearning of the human condition.
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"I cannot recommend this book enough--the writing is breathtaking. Monte Burke has written a masterpiece." -- Wright Thompson, ESPN senior writer and author of Pappyland
"What Susan Orlean accomplished for the strange, hermetic world of orchid hunting in her 1998 classic, 'The Orchid Thief,' Monte Burke does for another strange, hermetic world in his wonderful 'Lords of the Fly'...a lush, panoramic book." -- The Wall Street Journal
"The best—and juiciest—fishing book I've ever read." -- Tom Rosenbauer, author of The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide
"This is a story of the obsessed, unhinged, and often brilliant dreamers who chase giant tarpon--a primeval fish with breathtaking glamour and ungodly strength. The thrill of hooking one on a fly rod is impossible to exaggerate, so you can believe every word of Monte Burke's funny, wistful, wonderful book. He's clearly as sick as the rest of us."
-- Carl Hiaasen
"I distinctly remember the first tarpon I hooked. After about a half-dozen leaps that would leave an audience at Sea World slack-jawed, I looked up at the end of my fly rod bent against the horizon and thought: 'Good God, I've got a dinosaur on a stick!' A tarpon is one of the greatest creatures in the sea. Lords of the Fly gets to the heart of why. You will love this book."
-- Michael Keaton
"The stories in Lords of the Fly are about tarpon, and they're great ones: flashy, brawny, and electrifying, just like the tarpon itself...The angling stories are epic...but Burke keeps equal focus on the human element: the rivalries, foibles, and in some cases the Ahab-esque pathologies of the anglers themselves."-- Garden & Gun magazine
"Burke constructs the rise and fall of this unique fishing tale with impressive narrative control and an obvious reverence for its vivid characters...Ably captures the swagger, attitudes, and angling derring-do of a golden age of fishing history." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Monte Burke is a superb researcher with an ear for lyricism that does not degrade into poetic gobbledygook. The story he weaves makes Lords of the Fly the most compelling non-fiction book I've read in years."
-- Randy Wayne White, former fishing guide and author of the Doc Ford series novels
"Finally, a book about tarpon and the obsessed anglers who pursue them that's as spirited and majestic as the fish themselves. Through extensive reporting and writing that shimmers like a Florida flat, Burke puts the reader in the boat, on the fly rod, and at the marina bar with the legends of the fishery. You'll be hooked from the first sentence."
-- David DiBenedetto, editor in chief, Garden & Gun and author of On the Run: An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast
"In Monte Burke's Lords of the Fly we are treated to an exquisitely detailed portrait of tarpon, its mysterious habits, its place in history, in art, in Biblical lore. But it is the fish's extraordinary fusion of power and speed and its prehistoric majesty and its ferocious fight that attracted a flamboyant cast of characters who shared the obsessive drive to land a world record tarpon or simply to have one of those high-flying monsters on the end of their fly line. In witty and muscular prose, Burke ties together these disparate elements as neatly and beguilingly as a well-crafted tarpon fly."
-- James W. Hall, author of the Thorn series
About the Author
- Publisher : Pegasus Books; Illustrated edition (September 1, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1643135589
- ISBN-13 : 978-1643135588
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #47,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Burke also introduces us to the artist Russell Chatham, and authors Tom McGuane and Richard Brautigan (of "Trout Fishing in America" fame) as they experience the long-lost fish/party/repeat days in the Keys where the guides and their fishermen got into more than their fair share of trouble. (Also worth reading McGuane's books and stories on fishing and the novel "92 in the Shade', which is set in Key West).
The descriptions of the tarpon trophy hunters alone are priceless--from rich tycoons with unlimited means to hardscrabble locals, to a Florida mafia boss, to other characters stranger than fiction. The fishing scenes in the book are vividly written, capturing the beauty of these great fish and man's obsession with them.
Includes some fascinating stories about how the craft and skill related to saltwater fly fishing developed from the 1970s to today--You'll learn about how rods, reels, and flies were developed to tackle the giant tarpon and how fortunes were made (and sometimes lost) by the promoters of the sport. You also get a real sense of what it takes to be a top fishing guide trained over decades of time on the flats, often through multiple generations.
A perfect armchair book for those missing the days fishing on the flats with only the horizon stretching out beyond the mangroves.
Absolutely one of the best books I have picked up, in a long time. After finishing it, I immediately grabbed my 12wt and headed out the back door to fire off a few casts and fantasize for a few minutes.
BUY THIS BOOK!!!!! You will not be sorry if you do. I highly recommend his other books as well, as I’ve read them all.
Burke hasn't flinched from describing the frailties of these record-chasing fishers ( and the guides that made the whole thing possible), because most of them have many, and the book is better for it. I found Lords of the Fly difficult to put down.
Top reviews from other countries
Seriously good Book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 19, 2021
Seriously good Book!