And I’ve been reading a lot - about a great many things, but here I’ll concentrate on two books by the same author that I’ve come upon within the last few months. Both are by Dr. Tony Hayter, a dr. in history, which is very appropriate since the books are historical in nature. They’re not on the history of flyfishing as such, and yet, they are biographies of two of the titans in the history of this great hobby: “F.M. Halford and The Dry Fly Revolution” concerns itself with Halford and what was essentially the advent of dry fly fishing as we know it. “G.E.M. Skues - The Man of the Nymph” is about Skues and “his” invention of nymph fishing.
Both are, in short, nothing less than excellent books and without comparison among the best flyfishing books I’ve read.
They’re not new, and I don’t know why I never came across them before. The Halford-book was published in 2002, the Skues-book in 2013. Both benefit greatly from the authors professional methods and rely heavily on primary sources.
Both books are excellent biographies that draw pictures of not only the time (an essential trait of any historical biography), but also of their subjects. It turns out both men were rather private and kept their journals mail on fishing, so it’s not possible to get deep insights into the personalities of the characters. However Hayter does reveal several details about Halford especially that gives a rather better impression of him than what I had previously.
The books are incredibly well written, and after 10 pages I was caught and they are veritable pageturners. Not only do they offer a detailed account of the contributions made by these two giants, and I think it’s fair to say that flyfishing wouldn’t be what it is today if Halford and Skues hadn’t been around. The books also describe the incredible fishing the chalk streams of Southern UK had to offer before the turn of the century, even if especially Halford was advocating stocking at this early time.
It’s holiday-time, it’s high summer, fishing’s slow anyway (even Halford and Skues didn’t fish much in July) and if you’re interested in flyfishing history and Halford and Skues, I guarantee you’ll not only like these books, you’ll also have award time finding anything more entertaining to do than reading them.
I got both mine from Paul Morgan at www.anglebooks.com.
Have a great weekend,