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A Man May Fish by TC Kingsmill Moore

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Reviewed by Terry Lawton

A Man May Fish by TC Kingsmill Moore was described by Hugh Falkus as the greatest book on sea trout fishing and one of his top 20 angling books. TC Kingsmill Moore was a distinguished judge of the Irish High Court and Supreme Court who fished the Irish rivers and loughs for over 50 years. He was born in Dublin in 1893 and died there in 1979 aged 85. This Flyfisher's Classic Library edition is the second edition of the book that the author revised and added two chapters shortly before his death.

It is worth quoting a short extract from the preface to the first edition, where Kingsmill Moore describes what fishing meant to him. "What fishing has meant and means, to me may be summarized in a plea and a protest. A protest against the itch to make records, the urge to extract every possible fish in any way that is not illegal, the desire to go one better than the next man; a plea that fishing should be not so much a pursuit as a pastime, calling for concentration sufficient to put all worries out of mind, yet not such concentration as to be in itself exhausting." How true and a doctrine still worth following today. Perhaps even more so than when it was written given all the extra stresses and strains of life.

In the book he writes: "The angler, like the fish, should always be experimenting, always trying to approach as near as he can to the critical line without crossing it." This is an extract from the chapter Why Do Fish Take? An Excursion into Psychology. Although Kingsmill Moore is one of a long line of fishing authors who were lawyers or judges, some of whom wrote more entertainingly than others, Kingsmill Moore's writing is , in general, accessible and entertaining. For example, he writes very well and imparts lots of information on the design and tying of Irish fly patterns. This is essential reading for any historian of these important flies. Donald Downs painted the Kingsmill and Bumble flies tied by the author that are on display in The Flyfishers' Club.

Fishing in Ireland is never without its characters and Irishman boatmen are no exception. Here we meet Jamsie who is described as having a memory like an elephant, vast knowledge and, I would like to think, a pleasing streak of deviousness. As Conrad Voss Bark wrote in his introduction, Kingsmill Moore has "that rare gift of being able at the same time (as writing about fishing) to illuminate Ireland, and in particular the people of Ireland whom he loved."

This is a very good, well written and interesting book. Many celebrity anglers reckon this is one of the best fishing books written. As good as it is, I do regret that, for me, it does not rate quite so highly. Anybody going to fish in Ireland should definitely read it before departure.

A Man May Fish by TC Kingsmill Moore, with a foreword by Hugh Falkus and an introduction by Conrad Voss Bark. Published by The Flyfisher's Classic Library in a limited editon of 200 copies at £59 or $90.

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