How Fly Fishing Makes — and Consumes — a Life

Dylan Tomine is one of them. A steelheader. A fly fisherman obsessed with pursuing steelhead trout, the ocean-going form of the rainbow trout. He knows frustration. He knows being mystified. He knows disappointment—lord, does he know all about that. He knows also joy, excitement, the wonder of hooking up with a two-foot-long silver torpedo that’s cut its teeth in the wide open sea and that’s now bringing that maritime muscle into a freshwater river or stream. 

Fortunately for us, he also knows how to write. 

Tomine recently wrote Headwaters, his memoir of a life as a fly fisherman (we published an excerpt in Adventure Journal 22). It’s a lovely book, Tomine’s soul laid bare, the good and the bad and the sacrifices that will be deeply familiar to anyone who has devoted a life to something natural and ephemeral. 

Tomine was just featured on the podcast Ten Thousand Things, and it’s a wonderful listen. Check it out, here.

Here’s a bit from the episode, on what it means to be truly obsessed with something: 

It’s really wonderful to have a single-minded purpose in your life. So much of modern life is distraction. The texts are coming in and the news alerts are coming in and you need to check your email and there’s bills to pay and the lawn to mow and dishes to wash and all those sort of, I’m just cataloging the life of a single dad right now.

It’s really rare I think when we can just focus on one thing and when you have an obsession, there’s actually kind of this peace of mind. The other things don’t matter. You can really focus deeply and powerfully on this one thing, the object of your obsession. So I think there’s a definite benefit to that in that it’s one of the few times anybody in the modern world can feel really single-minded.

We’re sold out of issue 22, so if you want to read the excerpt we made available, you’ll have to buy his book. And a great way to be sure you don’t miss out on any issue of Adventure Journal, well, you know what to do. 

Words by Justin Housman. 



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