“The Beautiful Addiction” Teaches How To Fly Fish Near Your Home
by James Coulter
There are more than 500 lakes in Polk County. Chances are you’ve probably fished in one of them. But have you ever tried fly fishing?
Fly fishing may sound tricky, but the technique is simple enough that anyone can learn it within the span of a weekend. You can do exactly that when you pick up a copy of the newest book published by a local fishing instructor with more than 20 years of fly fishing experience.
In his book, “The Beautiful Addiction: Learning to Fly Fish Near Your Home”, Chris O’Byrne, Director of Fly Fishing Schools at The Andy Thornal Company in Winter Haven, teaches the basics of fly fishing using laymen’s terms, witty anecdotes, and lively illustrations.
The book offers a short and simple read, ensuring that anyone, from novices to experts, can learn enough about fly fishing that they’ll be out on the water casting lines in only a few short days, O’Byrne said.
“I intend it to be easily read within a weekend,” he said. “[It’s] for someone to pick up a book on a Friday and catching fish on Sunday evening.”
O’Byrne conveys more than 20 years of his fly fishing experience into this short read of a book, offering his own expertise in simple language that anyone can understand. No matter what your fishing level may be, this book will help you learn the basics on your own and get you out on the water as soon as possible, he said.
“Everyone in North America is within a short drive of bass and bluegill. This book will teach them no matter where they are,” he said. “It is not aimed at a specific location or exotic species, anyone can catch these fish on the fly.”
Ever since his father first taught him how to cast a line, O’Byrnehas spent most of his life out on the water. Fishing came naturally to him, and so, too, did fly fishing.
“When I started to exhibit some of the signs that I was ready for a fly rod, he handed me a fly rod and taught me,” he said.
His main career has been as a school coach and physical education teacher for the past 20 years. Though he previously took a brief reprieve from fly fishing, he returned to the sport in 1998.
He received his Flycaster Certification from Fly Fishers International in 2010. Since then, he has logged over 600 hours teaching in many different settings, including ten years teaching classes through the Andy Thornal Company in Winter Haven.
Since 2005, he has been sharing his fly fishing experience through his writing with blog posts and even a monthly fishing column in Coastal Angler, as well as in Florida Sportsman and Fly Fisher. Over the years, he has collected notes on various tips, tricks, and methods. Having accumulated more than a decade’s worth of research, he was inspired to compile everything he knew in one handy-dandy guide.
“When I started seriously teaching fly fishing, I began taking notes of other people’s ideas…and a whole lot of questions from my students, from beginners to advance anglers. So somewhere in 2014, the computer file began to look like a book,” he said.
Since 2017, O’Byrne has been slowly chipping away at his book. Aside from his own research, he also solicited advice from other people in the industry and began studying other books and fishing guides. He also received assistance in his writing through the Lakeland’s writer’s group, Writer’s 4 All Seasons.
“So in terms of the writing, it has been a real adventure, not just…putting words on paper and getting people to cast a certain way, but also to come back with anecdotes, make the book interesting, not just informative,” he said.
He has since published his book through Pepper Tree Press in Sarasota. The book includes illustrations from proffesional illustrator and fly fisher, Pete Chadwell, who has also created illustrations for fishing magazines and books.
O’Byrne hopes that everyone, regardless of whether they have fished or not, gives his book a try. He expects fishers to learn more about the sport and try a different aspect of it, while non-fishers can attempt to try something new. Either way, he hopes that his book will provide an enjoyable read.
“I try to hold a mirror up to the fly fishing life so that people who have been fishing for a while can enjoy that,” he said. “Anybody in the country can use The Beautiful Addiction to quickly catch fish on the fly.”
The Beautiful Addiction: Learning to Fly Fish Near Your Home” is available on Amazon: https://www.featherwater.com/shop
The book can also be purchased at the Andy Thornal Company, located at: 336 Magnolia Ave #2904, Winter Haven, FL 33880
For more information, visit O’Bryne’s website at: https://www.featherwater.com/