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The Compleat Angler Izaak Walton
First published in 1653, this book has had many
editions since, an evergreen , it is read more for the world and
spirit it evokes than for actual instruction in the anglers craft. Most
of the equipment used has been superceded by technology, and the
abundant fishing opportunies and stocks enjoyed by Walton are not
presently to be found. His enjoyment of the peace to be found by the
side of the stream can be shared , however, and after all
; peace if not fish was theirs, and reace is
best; as Le Gallienne , editor of a recent reprint ,
says in his dedication.
He begins with an exposition of the merits of angling ,
the Contemplative Man’s recreation, citing biblical and historical
references, former distinguished men of letters and of rank who
were fishers. He goes on to a comparison of the delights of a day
spent angling against time spent hunting, by means of an account
of several days spent in the company of friends in those
pursuits. Techniques and enjoyment of the chase are interspersed with
recipes and song, expositions of equipment fabrication and delight
in good company.
He deals in detail with various species of fish,
where to find them , the best times both in the year and the day to
catch them, how to set up your gear and what bait to use for each in
various conditions. His knowledge of the behaviour and
preferences of both fish and such bait species as caddis flies
and may flies is voluminous and comprehensive, but not boring. How to
imitate the current hatch with artificial flies, what feathers to use
and how to present your offering for best effect are timeless and still
applicable for any contemporary fly-fisher.