Individual taste in books varies as much as the favorite rod or fly.  With that in mind, we hope to review books and videos from the ever-growing fly fishing world, and share them with you.  Books will be the best of all worlds, new and old.  Many of the old books are now available in reprint, and the wisdom contained is timely today.  Others can be found in second-hand book stores, or by mail order dealers. As we find videos we feel are outstanding they will be included. Be assured, reviews are based on what we have actually read, and due to that fact, may not appear weekly.

August 15th, 2005

Fit to Fish: How to Tackle Angling Injuries
By Spephen L. Hisey, PT and Keith R. Berend, MD

Reviewed by Larry Compton (Canoeman 1947)

Fit to Fish:  How to Tackle Angling Injuries
The impetus for this review was a recent posting on the Bulletin Board in which a question was asked regarding rotator cuff surgery of the shoulder. As a physical therapist I felt compelled to offer my two cents worth to this discussion. A mention was made of a new book concerning prevention and treatment of angling injuries, and after I looked it up, I felt I had to have this book for my collection. I offered to review this book, and somewhat to my dismay, JC took me up on it.

We, as fly fishers, usually take good care of our equipment. We try to keep our lines clean and properly maintained (witness all the line cleaning and lubricating agents that we spend our money on). We clean and lubricate our reels. We wax our rod ferrules. There is, however, one piece of essential equipment that is usually poorly maintained and protected. Unfortunately this piece of equipment is the most expensive to repair and cannot be replaced. This indispensable piece of equipment is known as the human body. I am sure most of us have at one time or another taken a fall either in a river, approaching a river, or exiting a river. What is the one thing we usually do in this scenario? Of course, hold the rod high to avoid damaging it. We thus save a fly rod that may be very expensive, perhaps as much as $600 to $700, while risking an injury to ankle, knee, hip, spine, wrist, elbow, or shoulder that could only cost us a piddling $15,000 in surgery and rehabilitation. Of course, as fly fishers, we know this to be a reasonable course of action. After all, the rod may not be insured, but we have medical insurance to take care of such things as dinged up bodies.

As a practicing physical therapist, I routinely evaluate and treat such problems as shoulder impingement syndrome; tennis elbow; golfer's elbow; wrist tendonitis; carpal tunnel syndrome; low back pain; and knee and ankle pain and instability. Except for cases involving trauma, most of these ailments can be prevented or fairly easily treated, at least in the early stages. This is the purpose for which Fit to Fish was written. The authors, Stephen L. Hisey (a physical therapist) and Keith Berend (an orthopedic surgeon), are both fly fishermen with many years of experience. During the time he was in medical training in North Carolina, Dr. Berend noticed that several of his fly fishing friends were suffering from maladies that occurred while fishing. He "designed, implemented, and published an Internet-based survey study on the orthopedic maladies in people who fly-fish." From the results of that survey, along with the same survey questions administered to a group at a Trout Unlimited meeting, he found that the types of injuries listed above are the most common among fly fishers. The results of that study were published in the Journal of the Southern Orthopedic Association in 2001. It was on the backbone of that study that Fit to Fish was written.

This book focuses primarily on overuse injuries that many of us have experienced as anglers. These are the types of injuries that nag at us as we follow our pleasant addiction to fly fishing. If left untreated, they can potentially destroy our ability and desire to fish.

The authors have done an outstanding job of describing these injuries, how they develop, and how they can be treated. Perhaps even more importantly, how we can prevent most of these problems. They have done a very good job of organizing the information. While some of the information covers rather technical matters such as anatomy and physiology, it is written in a way that is not difficult to understand (certainly not as difficult as reading unfamiliar waters) They have managed to incorporate some of their own experiences as fly fishers to illustrate in ways we will all understand how some of these ailments occur. They offer sound advice for basic self treatment. Perhaps more important is the advice on prevention through strengthening, stretching, and posture. They leave very little to question as their instructions are very clear and detailed. Excellent color illustrations are used throughout the book to aid in clarifying the information and instructions.

Fit to Fish is, as far as I am aware, the first book of its type on the market. I have seen a few, very few, articles on prevention and treatment of overuse injuries in some of the outdoor magazines, but almost nothing in the fly fishing media. Although this book is written for the fly fisher, I think almost anybody would find it valuable, as these are the types of injuries that occur to much of the population, whether fly fishers or not. As a physical therapist who is also an ardent fly fisher, I highly recommend this book. I will probably find myself using it around the clinic to help my patients better understand some of their problems.

Fit to Fish may be purchased directly from Amato,, or Barnes & ~ Larry Compton (Canoeman1947)

Fit to Fish: How to Tackle Angling Injuries
By Stephen L. Hisey, P.T. and Keith R. Berend, M.D.
Published by Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 82112
Portland, OR 97282
(503) 653-8108
Softbound, 6 x 9 inches, 158 pages, color
ISBN: 1-57188-354-1
Price: $19.95 US

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