At Beinecke: One Man’s Passion; Newest Gems

Two exhibitions — one focusing on fly fisherman, outdoorsman and Atlantic salmon conservationist Lee Wulff and the other highlighting recent additions to the collections — are currently on view at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Fooling fish

“Lee Wulff: ‘Each Fly Is a Dream We Cast Out to Fool Fish’ ” focuses on the passions of the fly fisherman and explorer, featuring manuscripts of his work along with correspondence, clippings, magazine articles from all over the world, photographs and tying flies. It is on view through Sept. 16.

Wulff was born in Alaska — then not a U.S. state — in 1905. His spent his childhood in a gold-rush frontier town, and at the age of two caught trout in the brook behind his house using bacon and a bent pin. After receiving his engineering degree from Stanford University, Wulff headed for Paris to study art. After artistic success resulted in an exhibition of his work, he returned to New York City to begin a career in commercial art and advertising, fishing avidly in his spare time. He soon made the choice to spend his life engaged in sport fishing, opening up new areas for fisherman, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador. He would pioneer new approaches, techniques and gear for fishing in general, and specifically fly fishing for Atlantic salmon. Along the way he became an expert bush pilot, flying a small float plane into remote areas of Canada before any established navigational aids or procedures for air or sea rescue.

Wulff became a successful lecturer and the author and illustrator of numerous books and magazine and journal articles. What came to be popularly known in the second half of the 20th century as “catch and release” fishing can be traced to Wulff’s 1939 book “Handbook of Freshwater Fishing,” where he lays out the principle and terminology of catch and release, saying, “There is a growing tendency among anglers to release their fish. … Game fish are too valuable to be caught only once.” Wulff’s advocacy for catch and release fishing has become globally accepted as the standard approach for conservation and to guarantee plentiful fish populations for sport fishing.

An early advocate and practitioner of photography and film making, Wulff appeared on television segments of the CBS show “Sports Spectacular” and the ABC program “The American Sportsman.” Together with his wife, Joan Salvato Wulff, he opened a fly fishing school, relying as much on his wife’s fly casting reputation as well as his own fly fishing history. He also played an instrumental role in improving sport fishing and insuring that fish stocks would continue to increase, often against great opposition. He alerted the world to the plight of Atlantic salmon, and his legacy is carried forward today by sportspeople, scientists, naturalists, political figures and academics who are striving to protect the fish.

The exhibition also includes one of Wulff’s fishing vests, an Ultimate fly reel and one of the light, six-foot rods he used to subdue salmon. Documents detailing his efforts to establish sound conservation measures for Atlantic salmon are also on view.

A look at the new

“Treasures Old & New: Recent Additions to the Beinecke Collections” provides a window into the library’s most recent additions. It will feature such items as a 12th-century Bible, 18th-century handbooks on weaving and cookery and the original manuscript of “The Myth of Sisyphus in the Hand of Albert Camus.” These and other recently added treasures display the breadth of research opportunities at the library, one of the most significant repositories of cultural artifacts.

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 121 Wall St., is open for exhibition viewing Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Saturday, noon-5 p.m. For more information, visit or call 203-432-2977.

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