Casting his line in the wilds of the Blue Mountains of Oregon, fly fisherman Leeson (contributing editor, Fly Rod & Reel; English/Oregon State Univ.) is in his element; but as the Spinoza of the Umpqua he crashes and burns. Leeson spends much of his time fly-fishing the waters of the Northwest for trout, steelhead, and salmon, and he has clearly given his avocation long, deep thought. He often, however -- too often -- seems to be thinking out loud on the page, his ideas not yet distilled. He can be aggravatingly coy (going fishing is ""nonterminal, participial indefiniteness'), reach too hard (""the salmon run is a confluence of origins and eventualities""), let the fishing get bogged down in overanalysis, and display a dismaying lack of humor. When he finally gets midstream and starts fishing, though, things throttle back and lighten up. This looser, more spontaneous style shows Leeson at his best -- observant, inventive, human. Particularly good are his quick sketches of streamside natural history (birds and trout do seem strangely entwined) and the more extended meditations on flies and those who tie them. And readers will crack smiles reading of his unpleasant chance encounters (he wading, they floating) with other fishermen. But then he'll go and kill the pleasure of the moment again with a ham-fisted, pompous discourse on catch-and-release fishing, or muse interminably about the ""geometry"" of this, the ""fixity"" of that -- and any rhythm that has been developed slows down and dies. Leeson's prose needs to be brought down to fighting weight, like the type of fly he most admires. Minimally dressed, it could be quite catching.