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Paul Schullery

Paul Schullery is the author of American Fly Fishing, Mountain Time, and Royal Coachman: The Lore and Legends of Fly Fishing, as well as many other books about fly fishing, the American West, and conservation.

Author Articles

Dithering Over Dogs

When I walked into the little fly shop in Juneau that day in late July, I was pretty sure my fishing trip was already over. I’d spent much of the previous two months in the Yukon and Alaska, where I’d sampled what was by my standards an amazing array of fishing opportunities. The idea that here, just pausing for a couple days on our way south through...

The Adams: "A Great Salesman"

THE NOVELIST AND SPORTING writer Thomas McGuane summed up the near-mystical popularity of the Adams dry fly when he wrote that it's "gray and funky and a great salesman." After more than eighty years of hard use and a series of fresh permutations, the salesmanship of this enormously popular and long-enduring American original has only improved. In fact, the...

The Mystery of the Ratty Fly

ONE DAY LAST SUMMER, I was fishing a small, undistinguished local trout stream, and as I released one of its small, undistinguished local trout, I noticed that the hackle on my Adams had unwound and was trailing loose. But when I reached for my fly box to replace the ruined fly, I found myself wondering: Did the fish I was releasing tear that hackle loose...

A Dreadful Scourge

THE STREAMER IS A very old idea. British fly-fishing historian Conrad Voss Bark wrote, in A History of Flyfishing (1992), that at the time of Homer, various Mediterranean sea-fishers "were used to creating artificial lures such as plumes — we would call them streamer flies — and had fished them for thousands of years." This may be a bit generous in its...

Reading the Rise

WHEREVER I TRAVEL in a car, I always see the bridges coming, and when I get to them I always look down. I just have to see the stream. Is the water clear? Is it low? Are there likely looking pools? But we all know what this hasty reconnaissance is really about, don't we? Maybe — it's a long shot, but just maybe — I'll see a rise. To the fly fisher, the...

Imperialist Trout

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHANGE in trout fishing in the past 200 years? Was it the popularization of the eyed hook in the late 1800s? The development of monofilament and plastic fly lines in the mid-1900s? Split bamboo rods in the mid-1800s? Fiber­glass rods a century later? The adoption of catch-and-release regulations? No question about it, those things all...

Fishing with Guts

IN THE EARLY 1700s, after anglers had been using horsehair lines for more than a thousand years, they finally discovered that nature had a better idea. It was a natural leader material that, by comparison with horsehair, was so remarkable for translucence, flexibility, and strength that it would eventually dominate the sport. It was silkworm gut. Gut was...

Aelian Lives

MANY TIMES in my long, checkered career as a fly fisher, I have openly and willfully resisted the fishing advice of my betters. I found their wisdom somehow annoying. The last thing I wanted was someone bugging me with common sense. I just wanted to go out there and thrash around until I worked my way through all this arcane stuff on my own. But most of the...

Trout: Coping with Rejection

IF YOU'VE BEEN FISHING even a few years, you've watched a trout come up to your fly, give it a look, and turn away. That kind of rejection is discouraging, but at least it's a nice, simple message from the trout: “I don't like this.” And at that point, you're welcome to apply whatever combination of stream savvy, folklore, and science you can muster ...

The Age of Heroes

MY FIRST FISHING HERO was my uncle, Richard Murphy, who died in 1990. He was a lifelong cane-pole bait fisherman and a known master on his home lake in Ohio for upwards of three-quarters of a century. Funny thing is, aside from certain inadvertent lessons he gave me in the effective use of profanity, I would be hard-pressed to describe even one specific...