I recently reread John Gierach's FISHING BAMBOO: AN ANGLER'S PASSION FOR THE TRADITIONAL FLY ROD. I guess, not unlike others, I reread books for a variety of reasons, some not worth mentioning, but mostly to see if they hold up a second (or third or fourth) time through. Of course, I have to have liked a book pretty well the first time to move it ahead of all the other titles waiting for me to finish and many will just keep waiting, I'm not sorry to say, eternally. In this particular case, though, the time was well spent. When I first bought the book, I was already contemplating making my first cane fly rod and really worrying about it. What I found in the pages of FISHING BAMBOO did little to ease my worrying. I think it made it worse. But then none of the other books I'd read before it concerning this almost supremely obscure bordering on occult craft (some say "art," something I reject out of hand; "art" is what you do with a fly rod and then only rarely) had done a thing for my confidence. Still, I collected and read and collected some more. Then I started making my own tools, no small endeavor, since many of the tools to do this are shop made only, though many are available from makers now. After agonizing almost daily over my only mentors, the fat and befuddling basic primers by Garrison, Cattanach, Maurer and Elser, Milward, and Gould, I began to range further afield, as much out of primal fear as the need to learn more. SPLITTING CANE, by Ed Engle. CASTING A SPELL, by George Black. RODCRAFTING, by Jeff Hatton. IDYLL OF THE SPLIT BAMBOO, by George Parker Holden. It went on this way for some time, as you can see, and I slowly realized that I'd spent so much money and time on books and strange tools used to make even stranger tools that I'd damn well better see this thing through, even if I had to pay in fingers (only a couple close calls, so far). It was about this time that I discovered one of my favorite outdoor writers (and writers in general), John Gierach, had also contributed a whole book to the canon. I was aware from the Engle book that Gierach fished cane, but I had no idea the depth of his disease. If passions can truly own men (thinking of Hobbes here), then Gierach has found his master. If you're like me, you'll come away from FISHING BAMBOO wondering how in hell the author managed to avoid actually making a cane rod. The breadth of his interest is very much on display here (not much choice with a title like that), the writing breezy and barroom conversational, somehow transcending his usual inimitable Twain-esque style into something more encouragingly instructive, reined in with artful consideration well before descending into the black pit of mere pedantry. You get a feeling of breathlessness here, as if Gierach couldn't wait to write the thing, he just had to get it out. (I gathered the same notion reading George Black's fine book, and the only one I would put in a class, judging purely on literary merits, with Gierach's.) It's a truly wonderful book, not knit-pick proof, by any means, and the appendices are understandably dated, but I'm still bothered by the viscera of a man so clearly and badly taken by a thing that he can still temptation for this long. So now I'm thinking of Ben Franklin: "If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." Way to hold on to your fingers, John.