6 famous fly fishing quotes on aluminum fly boxes

I’ve been blessed to have a constant influx of famous fly fishing quotes to engrave onto aluminum fly boxes.  Fly fishers through the ages seem to be a deeply contemplative group or maybe it’s the relaxing environment that nurtures a person’s creative thinking.  Either way we’ve been luck to have some famous fly fishers write      memorable quotes.

For this post I thought it would be neat to dig a little deeper into the authors.  Each author lead an interesting life.  Many had roots in legendary fly fishing areas of the US.


“Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it.”

~Henry Middleton

Henry Middleton (1717 to 1784) was an ironic American Revolutionary.  He presided over the Continental Congress, but left because he didn’t believe America should be completely independent of Great Britain.  During the Revolution he accepted his status as a British citizen, yet his son was a signer on the Declaration of Independence.  He owned hundreds of slaves, but didn’t believe in enslaving people.    It is believed that this quotation came from his time as the US ambassador to Russia where he worked to control the fishing off the coast of what is now Alaska.


If fishing is a religion, fly fishing is high church”

~Tom Brokaw

Thomas John Brokaw ((1940 to -) Tom is probably most remembered for his time at NBC hosting “NBC Nightly News”.   He is one of the big three which included Peter Jennings and Dan Rather popular during the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Reporter, Newscaster and Author –  Mr. Brokaw, grew up in the plains of South Dakota.  He now resides in Livingston Montana.  Diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2013 which he has reported is in remission.  Check out an amazing interview – Tom Brokaw on Fly Fishing


“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”

~Norman Maclean

Norman Fitzroy Maclean (1902 to 1990) is famously known for his semi-autobiographical novella A River Runs Through It and Other Stories.  Mr. Maclean was born in Iowa and then moved to Missoula, Montana his roots had a solid foundation in the rivers and streams described in his story.  The movie which inspired so many to learn about fly fishing was released in 1992.  Since 1994 fly fishing has declined to half of the popularity it held during “the movie” heyday.  The movie is good, but the book is much better, especially when read with a view of a river.

Picture of John Maclean box

I recently made an aluminum fly box that ended up in John Maclean’s hands.  It was engraved with a special phase found in the same book.


“A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.”

~Arnold Gingrich

Arnold Gingrich (1903-1976) was one of the founders of Esquire magazine, which was a template for so many men’s magazines still published today.  Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan he resided most of his adult life in New York.  Esquire published the biggest names during its peak after in the ‘50s  Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, F. Scott Fitzgerald to name a few.

From 1965 to 1974 Mr. Gingrich published 4 books about fly fishing.  His books ranged from a bibliography with fly fishing stories interwoven to a history of the craft.  He befriended many of the historic legends of our sport; Joe Brooks, Roderick Haig-Brown and Lee Wulff.


“The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you.”

~Lee Wulff

Henry Leon Wulff  (1905-1991) was an artist, pilot, author, film maker and conservationist.  With an ethos for “catch and release” and the preservation of the Atlantic Salmon.  Born in Alaska he moved extensively; Brooklyn, San Diego, Paris and New York were all called home before he turned 25.  Lee’s career started as a “starving artist” literally with only $100 dollars to his name.  Mr. Wulff seemed to fish more than work, until he committed to a fly fishing professionally in the mid-‘30s.  During his long career he met and eventually married (his third wife) Joan and together formed the Wulff School of Fly Fishing.   Lee died while piloting a plane in 1991, his Wulff flies using white calves tail will continue his legacy into the future.

fly fishing gift

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

~Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) is best remembered for the book Walden “Where I Lived and What I Lived For”, but as I researched Thoreau this book was basically forgotten during Thoreau’s life.

Overshadowed by his civil disobedience, travel, conservation and the recording of the “natural state” during his life, “Walden”  didn’t become popular until it was promoted after Thoreau’s  life.  In recent history  Martin Luther King adapted Thoreau’s nonviolent resistance along with Ganhi.

I own and have read Walden many times.  The book has been enjoyed, but as I studied the actual man, I’ve become disenchanted by a poor, jailed pencil maker who seemed to live on the fringe of society.

So there you have it 6 famous fly fishing quotes on aluminum fly boxes.  I hope you enjoyed this article, I know I enjoyed researching it.