James Thull from Montana State University talks about what they have going at MSU Library, home of the world’s largest collection of books on trout and salmonids. We talk about the rich history and culture of angling through MSU’s extensive book collection and over 370 interviews with anglers from around the world.

James also highlights some of the notable interviews, including the ones with Bud Lilly and AK Best, as well as his experience interviewing Lefty Kreh at his house and fishing with Jeremy Wade from River Monsters. We discover the challenges James faced while traveling to different countries to conduct interviews and MSU’s mission to preserve the global history, culture, and legacy of angling.

Angling History with James Thull. Hit play below!

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(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


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Show Notes with James Thull

03:30 – They have the world’s largest collection of books on trout and salmon at MSU. This collection was started by Bruce Mordan and Bud Lilly.

Photo by The Montana Standard

04:29 – Bud told James a story of an old gentleman he took fishing who landed his last fish and then died a few weeks later.

06:45 – You can head over to wetflyswing.com/msu to check out their trout, salmon, and angler history collection. They have done around 370 interview videos with anglers from around 65 to 70 countries.

19:30 – Someone donated a book signed by Isaac Walton to MSU Library.

23:30 – They collaborated with the American Museum of Fly Fishing on a project to digitize old cassette tapes.

27:05 – James recommends checking out the interviews they’ve done with Bud Lilly. Also the interview with AK Best. He also mentioned some of the notable ones including Lefty Kreh.

32:05 – James interviewed Lefty Kreh at Lefty’s house. Lefty showed him his museum of personal artifacts. James saw a picture of Lefty with Fidel Castro and Ernest Hemmingway standing together with rods in their hand. (Unfortunately, we couldn’t find this picture on Google)


37:00 – James talks about the tips Bud shared with him:

  1. The fish don’t know whether you’re using a $900 rod or a $90 rod.
  2. For the most part, fish strike for 2 reasons – they’re hungry or they’re pissed.

44:00 – James talks about going to different countries in Africa and Asia to conduct interviews. We hear about the challenges he faced along the way.

59:40 – We had Henry Winkler on the podcast in episode 334. We noted his book, I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River.

1:00:40 – James talks about fishing and hanging out with Jeremy Wade from River Monsters.

Photo Courtesy of Discovery

1:04:30 – Their mission at MSU is to preserve the global history and culture of angling.

1:05:00 – James talks about their upcoming to Belize this fall to teach people about using archives on angling and history.

1:06:30 – We had John Gierach on the podcast for the 2nd time at WFS 434.

Check out their book collection and list interviews here!

Resources Noted in the Show

Watch the Lefty Kreh interview video here

Watch the AK Best interview video here

Check out all the other interview videos here

Related Podcast Episodes

WFS 298 – Influential People in the History of Fly Fishing with Jim Schottenham

Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

Conclusion with James Thull

We highlighted the remarkable collection of trout and salmon books at MSU, initiated by Bruce Mordan and Bud Lilly. This collection stands as a testament to their dedication and passion for angling. The anecdotes shared during the podcast further exemplify the profound impact of fishing on people’s lives. The story of Bud Lilly taking an old gentleman fishing, who caught his last fish before passing away, serves as a poignant reminder of the deep connection between angling and the human experience.

Moreover, the collaboration between MSU and the American Museum of Fly Fishing underscores their commitment to preserving the history and culture of angling. From digitizing old cassette tapes to conducting numerous interviews with anglers worldwide, their efforts to document and share angler history have been extensive. The podcast episodes featuring renowned figures such as Bud Lilly, AK Best, Lefty Kreh, and even celebrity guests like Henry Winkler and Jeremy Wade, further amplify the significance of their mission. As they continue to expand their outreach and plan educational trips to countries like Belize, MSU remains dedicated to teaching and utilizing angling archives for the benefit of angling enthusiasts and historians alike.