Shupton's Fancy: A Tale of the Fly-Fishing Obsession

The fly fisher's quest is a complicated one. With enough education, observation, insight, and luck (in some indefinable combination), the fisherman seeks to master all the elements of the sport—fly tying, stream entomology, trout behavior, fly casting, and all the rest—so well that the trout cannot resist. But there is a big and rarely considered "what if" in this grand and compelling enterprise. What if, God forbid, someone finally gets it right? What if they finally discover a fly that never fails? Shupton's Fancy: A Tale of the Fly-Fishing Obsession is a charming and provocative little story of history and the near-madness of following the sport's goal to its logical but terrifying conclusion. What's the point if you can't fail? It's a question of sudden urgency to the protagonist of this epistolary tale, in which an angler unexpectedly finds himself on the faint but persistent trail of medieval rumor that many centuries ago, a forgotten British angler, one A. Shupton, had actually stumbled onto the perfect fly pattern. Our hero's research adventures and their startling result make Shupton's Fancy: A Tale of the Fly-Fishing Obsession an unforgettable lesson in the price of having your dreams come true.

"In Shupton's Fancy, Paul Schullery has produced a terrific novella. I just hope I don't discover the real Shupton's Fancy, for its power would surely lead to my own angling demise."—Jim Butler, Fly Rod & Reel

"This is an extraordinary little book—funny, deep, and at once breezy and complex. Its language is admirable and its humor barbed and sly. But amid the wit and persiflage, Schullery nails down the essence of the sport as well as anyone I've read. The ending sent me outside to smoke and think. I'm still thinking."—Art Scheck, American Angler

"The piercing cynicism of the narrator keeps you laughing; the fascinating historical puzzle keeps you wondering; and the philosophical insights into our way-too-serious quest for fly fishing perfection keeps you thinking . . . You'll never be able to forget this book."—Gary LaFontaine, author of The Dry Fly and Trout Flies