The occasional rummage around in charity book shops turns up a treasure or two and so it was a month or two ago when I picked up a nice little book called Angling for Brown Trout by a Mr A. R. Harris Cass, M.B.E. One of a few books on angling he seems to have authored if a quick Google search is anything to go by.
First published in 1941, Angling for Brown Trout paints a really interesting picture of the attitudes towards fishing, and in particular, fly fishing in that era, and also some of the brilliant language used to describe it and its proponents, long lost in the mists of time sadly, except perhaps to readers of the more literary fishing magazines like Waterlog and Fallon’s Angler these days.
Some things though never seem to change as this passage from the first chapter – “The Joy of Trout Fishing” shows.
Just as certain “purists” regard coarse fishing unhappily with disdain, so some salmon rodsters think trouting is very small-beer.
“Rodsters” – what a great word and one used often throughout the book.
The tackle of yesteryear gets a good mention – split-cane, greenheart, steel-centred rods…, bronzed aluminium reels with “crinoid” handles, down to silkworm and artificial gut casts. How different that must have been from todays modern marvels of technology – we can only wonder what Harris Cass would have made of it all if he walked into a tackle dealer today.
The book covers all the usual chapters on the dry and wet fly, where to find the fish, the tackle choices mentioned above, but also has some great anecdotes from his fishing adventures and characters met along the way from tough river keepers, to skyline striding anglers and West Country folk. He finally ends with a chapter on how to cook and eat trout and a final mention of fly dressing to which he doffs his cap and explains “…it warrants a treatise to itself.”
As you can tell I really enjoyed this little book of 120 pages or so. It comes with a few of the authors own photos of pipe-smoking, tweed-wearing gentlemen in the stream plus some crude line-drawn illustrations that just add to the charm.
Now I need to go on another trawl of the book shops and find my next vintage read.