The Optimist: A Case for the Fly Fishing Life (Paperback)

The Optimist: A Case for the Fly Fishing Life By David Coggins Cover Image
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An “excellent” (The New York Times) modern tribute to an ageless pastime, and a practical guide to the art, philosophy, and rituals of fly fishing, by an expert, lifelong angler.

In The Optimist, David Coggins makes a case for the skills and sensibility of an enduring sport and shares the secrets, frustrations, and triumphs of the great tradition of fly fishing, which has captivated anglers worldwide.

Written in wry, wise, and keenly observed prose, each chapter focuses on a specific place, fish, and skill. Few individuals, for example, have the visual acuity required to catch the nearly invisible bonefish of the Bahamas flats. Or the patience to land the elusive Atlantic salmon, “the fish of a thousand casts,” in eastern Canada. Pursuing these challenges, Coggins, “a confirmed obsessive,” travels to one fishing paradise after another, including the great rivers of Patagonia, private chalk streams in England, remote ponds in Maine, and New York City’s Jamaica Bay. In each setting, he chronicles his fortunes and misfortunes with honesty and humor while meditating on how fishing teaches focus, inner stillness, and a connection to the natural world.

Perfect for the novice, the enthusiastic amateur, and the devoted angler alike, The Optimist offers a practical path to enlightenment while providing “a rueful, thoughtful, and very funny examination of an elegant obsession” (Jay McInerney).

About the Author

David Coggins is the author of Men and Manners and the New York Times bestseller Men and Style. He writes about fly fishing for Robb Report and tailoring, drinking, and travel for numerous publications, including the Financial TimesBloomberg Pursuits, and Condé Nast Traveler. Coggins lives in New York and fishes regularly in the Catskills, Wisconsin, and Montana.

Praise For…

“Anyone interested in fly fishing or curious how the sport could possibly be of interest to anyone should hop to David Coggins’s excellent The Optimist."
—The New York Times

“This is a wonderful book but to be honest, Coggins writes so well that he could rivet our attention to anything—cottage cheese, Ted Cruz, the Detroit Lions—and we would follow every sentence with remarkable obedience."
Thomas McGuane, author of The Longest Silence

"Coggins' keen observations of this genteel pursuit are offered with humor, a dash of wisdom, and an enthusiasm so infectious you'll be itching to perfect your backcast between chapters."
Fortune Magazine, "Best Books of 2021"

"Humorous and relatable. . . . A great read for fly fishing enthusiasts and novices alike."

“David Coggins is a pro, and his book is smart and aware and generous, the writing elegant, the humor tucked in just the right places."
TROUT Magazine

“Immersive, true, pitch-perfect, and a soon-to-be classic. Coggins is a fresh voice in the fly-fishing canon, a wry genius, and the perfect guide for angler and non-angler alike.” 
Chris Dombrowski, author of Body of Water  

“Lively, humoristic but informative. . . . [Coggins is] a talented and entertaining writer."
Atlantic Salmon Journal 

"[The Optimist] makes a nice philosophical case for fly fishing."

"An entertaining read and intelligent resource for anglers and non-anglers alike. . . . At the height of his literary talents, the author ultimately reveals a healthy approach to angling--and to life in general."
Virginia Sportsman

“To paraphrase an old saying: Writing about fly fishing is like dancing about architecture. It's nearly impossible to capture but David Coggins does it as well as anyone, and I thrilled to his adventures from England to Patagonia to America's great rivers.”
Tom Rosenbauer, author of The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide

“I’ve fished many of the rivers in this book but I hadn’t seen them run and shimmer the way they do in Coggins’s lively prose. What’s more, I’d given up on fishing, I don’t know why—maybe the world was too much with me; okay, let’s just say I’ve been preoccupied with ephemera rather than the eternal, which is what fly-fishing makes one confront. I closed this last chapter and said hell or high water, I was going to get back to the rivers and streams I’ve missed. There’s much to fall in love with in this world, and this book reminded me of that.”  
Doug Stanton, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Horse Soldiers

The Optimist is a rueful, thoughtful and very funny examination of an elegant obsession. Coggins does a terrific job of evoking the joys of fly fishing and also the frustrations, which are inextricably linked.  This is the best book I’ve read on fishing since Thomas McGuane’s The Longest Silence.”  
Jay McInerney  

“Wonderfully written, consistently amusing, grand but never grandiose.”
Lesley M.M. Blume, author of Fallout

“An excellent primer for the beginning fly angler and a lyrical reminder of all there is to love about the sport for even the most jaded of old hands.”
Monte Burke, author of Lords of the Fly and Saban

“A wise, affectionate chronicle of a passion pursued.”
Kirkus Reviews

"Coggins is a virtuoso. He has written a modern fly fishing classic."

“A pure and extended love letter to fishing. . . . what grows on you and ultimately stays with you while reading The Optimist is his sheer exuberance and honesty. The real brotherhood of fishing might occasionally be about fishing triumphs, but just as often if not more, it is about failures. And we get streamside seats to all of Coggins’s."
The Washington Free Beacon

"A lovely, ruminative book about a venerable sport. . . . Coggins’s enthusiasm for fly fishing is so infectious that the book will readily hook non-fishers as well.”
Library Journal
Product Details
ISBN: 9781982152512
ISBN-10: 1982152516
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: May 10th, 2022
Pages: 256
Language: English

How to read more
( Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource shares thousands of images that span decades of Birminghams vibrant past)

How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.


And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.


15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.


50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.


Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.


Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.


Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.



Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.


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