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Around the Next Bend: A Fly Angler's Journey
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2013
It’s the story he needed to tell and the book he needed to write. That’s my reaction after reading Jerry Kustich’s new book, Around the Next Bend, A Fly Angler’s Journey.

Jerry is known in the flyfishing community as a bamboo rod maker, a master craftsman in the art of transforming stalks of bamboo into deceptively delicate-looking, yet strong and powerful fly rods. He’s also a talented writer with two previous books, At the River’s Edge, and Wisp in the Wind. He’s also the co-author, with his brother, Rick Kustich, of Fly Fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead.

Jerry endured turmoil, both professional and personal, in recent years. In his second book, Wisp in the Wind, he wrote about his love of the craft of building bamboo rods, and his work as one of the tiny group of rod builders, the “Boo Boys,” who ran the R. L. Winston Rod Co., bamboo shop. Not long after the book came out, there was a falling out with Winston, resulting in Jerry and Glenn Brackett, another bamboo master craftsman and former owner of Winston, leaving to launch their own business, Sweetgrass Rods.

In that earlier book, Jerry also told of how he met his wife, Debra, and how they subsequently found their way to Twin Bridges, Montana.

Just a few years after launching the new business, Debra was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. My mother had ALS, so I’m all too familiar with this debilitating illness. Debra died in 2009, a devastating blow.

I occasionally stop at Sweetgrass Rods in Twin Bridges after a morning of duck hunting, and last year, about this time, Jerry said he was working out a strategy to retire so I suggested that he should write another book. “You have a story you need to tell,” I said. Evidently, others were giving him the same advice, also.

In his introduction, Jerry writes, “With a heavy heart I write today because so many have encouraged me to do so. What follows is a series of pieces…intended to bring logical and emotional closure to a sad and trying period in my life.”

I’ll point out that, while the book does address the business issues and personal grief, this is not a book of sad stories. On the contrary, Jerry’s stories are honest, insightful and often humorous.

There are a number of stories about steelhead fishing, though Jerry points out that he’s really a trout fisherman who likes to fish for steelhead, and that doesn’t qualify him as a true, died in the wool, steelheader. For example, he tells of fishing a river in Michigan where there’s a spawning run of walleyes moving in the river at the same time as a spring run of steelhead. He decides he wants to catch a bragging-size walleye, and is disappointed as he keeps catching more steelhead.

Jerry also tells of when he felt a calling to write some fishing stories, and Debra’s amusement at the thought. “She snickered and mumbled something to the effect that I should first learn how to string together a noun and a verb before tackling anything more challenging than a sentence.”

Through reading and hard work, Jerry Kustich definitely learned to write. Jerry’s stories have drawn praise from masters of fly-fishing writing, such as Nick Lyons. “When Nick Lyons called last year, Debra could not imagine why someone so well known in the world of fly-fishing would want to contact me.”

The book has a sad ending, of course, though the final chapters stop somewhat short of Debra’s death. The reader knows from the beginning, of course, that it happened. He tells of his feeling of helplessness during his wife’s long decline, though he stops well short of self-pity. Instead, he reflects, “That’s why I’ll continue to seek simplicity at the river’s edge, one cast at a time.”

Paul F. Vang, author of Sweeter than Candy - A Hunter's Journal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2014
We need the ability to clone Jerry Kustich as the world needs more people with his sensibilities. His writing in 'Around the Bend' as well as his two previous books 'At the River's Edge' and 'A Wisp in the Wind' take one on a journey where he shares not only his fly fishing adventures but a view into his life's own personal experiences and a philosophy on how we could have or maybe still can make this life on earth a better place. The fly fishing stories/chapters will not only fulfill the vicarious fishing fix but communicate to the reader that the fly fishing experience is more than just catching fish. His stories on his personal up and downs will make you laugh, reflect, and tug at your heartstrings. I remember years ago at a Jimmy Buffett concert seeing a t-shirt that said "I want Jimmy Buffett's job." When you read his books, I say to myself, "I want to see life through Jerry Kustich's eyes." Actually, we would all benefit from seeing life through his eyes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2014
Reading Jerry Kustick's book was interesting for me as he writes from a different perspective on fishing. Because he is from a particular generation with a unique perspective on what he feels life and fishing are about plus being a cane rod maker brings a different flavor to the book. Knowing that the writer sought out and enjoys the lifestyle of a very small town in Montana as well as the pace of life, he provides some insight into life, fishing, the environment and his perspectives of all in this book. It is a refreshing look at life with the other aspects of life written in as the background for this book. Interesting reading.
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on July 16, 2014
I was looking forward to reading this book as soon as I heard it was available. His attitude towards fishing is in line with my way of approaching fly fishing. I find as much joy just being stream side as I do actually catching fish. I am deeply saddened to hear of what happened between his last book and this one. The stories are entertaining and thought provoking. As someone who is approaching the half century mark on this planet, this book kind of hits home. As with all his books, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the simple act of being outdoors and sees more than just a stream and trees.
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on July 14, 2014
Nice life stories by one of the Winston Boo boys.
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on June 10, 2014
Entertaining stories that the average fly fisherman can relate to. I have several of Kustich's previous books and I continue to enjoy and collect his work.
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on May 12, 2015
Just loved to read it.Kept me alive when bone fishing.
Jerry is not only a good bamboo rodmaker but a true fisherman.
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on July 22, 2015
Good read and good stories. As a fisherman, I've heard many fishing tales, but these will hold the readers interest.
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on April 14, 2015
Kustich through his own life experiences brings a fresh perspective about fishing for anglers everywhere.
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