A modern tribute to an ageless pastime, and a practical guide to the art, philosophy, and rituals of fly fishing, by an expert, lifelong angler. In The Optimist , David Coggins makes a case for the skills and sensibility of an enduring sport and shares the secrets, frustrations, and triumphs of the great tradition of fly fishing, which has captivated anglers worldwide. Written in witty, keenly observed prose, each chapter focuses on a specific place, fish, and skill. Few individuals, for example, have the visual acuity required to catch the nearly invisible bonefish of the Bahamas flats. Or the patience to land the elusive Atlantic salmon, the fish of a thousand casts, in eastern Canada. Pursuing these challenges, Coggins, a confirmed obsessive, travels to one fishing paradise after another, including the great rivers of Patagonia, private chalk streams in England, remote ponds in Maine, and New York City's Jamaica Bay. In each setting, he chronicles his fortunes and misfortunes with honesty and humor while meditating on how fishing teaches focus, inner stillness, and a connection to the natural world. Perfect for the novice, the enthusiastic amateur, and the devoted angler alike, The Optimist offers a practical path toward enlightenment while providing a welcome escape into one of the world's ancient pastimes.