You don't have to be a fly fisherman to enjoy Gierach, though it does help. When he waxes ecstatic over bamboo rods, or explains how the Green Drake mayfly (Ephemerella grandis) is differentiated from its cousins, E. doddsi and E. flavilinea, perhaps only a fisherman can understand exactly why this is so important.
But reading Gierach isn't something you do to learn about the technique or the science of fishing, or how to select a rod, or how to cast. He's more about the philosophy of fishing, about why we are willing to stand in the middle of a cold stream wearing silly clothes and waving a stick over our heads. He's the ultimate Trout Bum, to quote an earlier book, a man for whom there really is no other life, and who has made a modest living for years just celebrating this life. And of course he does this in a wonderfully witty way; no jokes, just a lot of observations that will still make you smile the umpteenth time you read them.
"Dances with Trout" is not just about trout fishing, or about fishing, for that matter. The "Scotland" chapter doesn't have much to say about how to fish for salmon; "Fool Hen" is about grouse hunting, and "In the Woods" is about still hunting for deer.
What ties all these stories together is Gierach's feeling of comradery with his hunting and fishing pals, and even more so, a real connection with the outdoors. In a time when for many, "outdoor sports" means something like racing through the woods in a snowmobile, tearing up the peace and quiet of a lake in a jetski or "four wheeling", Gierach writes about the simple pleasures of being outdoors and absorbing the world around you.