Paul Schullery's Royal Coachman is a book about the lore, lure, and history of fly-fishing. ‘Fly-fishing is this great adventure we have in a thousand little episodes,’ he says, and in this book he writes about some of them with charm and wit. Reflecting on the history of the sport, from its reputed origins in Europe centuries past (and casting a suspicious eye on the so-called first fly-fishing author, who published five hundred years ago) to its more recent history in the United States (where, says Schullery, the founding fathers might have ventured out to Philadelphia's streamside banks for a little relaxation), Schullery recounts some of his own experiences as well as those of some of fly-fishing's legendary and quirky practitioners. ‘Knowing more about early American trout fishing only allows me to stretch that connection back further, to give me even more stories to remember, and more dreams to share,’ he writes.
Schullery celebrates some lesser-known fishermen and some seldom-appreciated waters, such as the limestone streams of Pennsylvania. He muses on the pursuit of the ever-more perfectly ‘natural’ fly and contrasts that quest with the storied success of the royal coachman, perhaps the gaudiest fly ever invented. He writes about rods, about his fellow fishing writers, about fishing etiquette, and about the true definition of a ‘trout bum’ (his requirements are surprisingly rigorous). He compares trout fishing in the East with trout fishing in the Rockies, both of which he has done for extended periods of time.
This is an irresistible book, written with grace, humor, and intelligence. Trout magazine called Schullery ‘our preeminent angling historian’ while the Los Angeles Times referred to him as ‘a keen raconteur’ and Newsweek dubbed him fly-fishing's ‘gentle ironist.’ Royal Coachman is his finest book yet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Schullery is the author, coauthor, or editor of more than two dozen books on nature, conservation, and the outdoors, including Mountain Time, American Fly Fishing: A History, Shupton's Fancy, and Searching for Yellowstone. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Field and Stream, and Outdoor Life. A former executive director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing, Schullery is also an affiliate professor of history at Montana State University and adjunct professor of American Studies at the University of Wyoming. He currently works as a Resource Naturalist with the National Park Service in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, where he lives.