Book Review – Reelly: Unbelievable Fly Fishing Guide Stories


Two copies of a book titled "reely unbelievable fly fishing guide stories" by ryan johnston, one standing upright and another lying face down, on a gray background.

By Ryan Johnston

($20, buy on or you fly shops should carry it!)

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include a short review of Reelly: Unbelievable Fly Fishing Guide Stories by Ryan Johnston. This book follows on the heels of A Reel Job, which relates a number of chuckle-worthy anecdotes from the point-of-view of a well-seasoned river guide, who also packs some serious writing/story-telling chops into his boat bag. Both are worth checking out.

Guiding is an interesting gig, and for most of those of us who have done some guiding, there is no shortage of fodder when it comes to the strange things you see and experience on the water—some of it having to do with the fish and the fishing, but, by far, most of it related to the “sports” who end up in your boat.

For those types who really wonder what an experienced guide really thinks, these stories cut right to the core. (Think about it, you don’t have to tell them yourself, you can just suggest they read this book.)

For those who fancy putting their newly hard-earned liberal arts degree from a small Midwestern college to good use via the “dream job” of guiding people on fly-fishing trips, this book can be a bit of an eye-opener, and they might not want to know how the sausage gets made. After all, guiding isn’t fishing… guiding is watching other people do something you love to do very much, and sometimes your clients respect and appreciate it, and at other times, the disrespect can be frustrating.

Johnston does a good job of handing the anecdotes with grace and even a little self-deprecating humor (admittedly, the self-deprecating part isn’t all that common amongst many guides). It’s an easy read.

He’s also the founder of Cast Hope, which facilitates getting at-risk and underserved youth on the water to fly fish. He clearly “gets it” and deserves support, as a writer, a guide, and an activist.



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