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My Way With Trout by Arthur Cove

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Reviewed by Terry Lawton

I was going through the publisher Crowood's catalogue recently and was surprised and interested to see that Arthur Cove's famous book, My Way With Trout, is still in print and available as a paperback. As regular visitors to the message board will know, virtually every question to do with stillwater fly fishing produces an answer referring to this book. As it is obviously still very popular - and in print - I felt that it would be a good book to review.

My Way With Trout was published originally in 1986 and in paperback in 1992. As a result, some of the information on choice of tackle - rods and lines in particular - is now dated. There is plenty of information on putting tackle together and making up and using long and ultra-long (10m or 30 foot) leaders. If your top dropper is just a metre from the end of your line, quite how you net a fish that is still 9m away is not explained. I am sure that somebody on the forum can tell me what to do!

An important part of Cove's claim to fame is told in the story of how he developed his famous pheasant tail nymph. His most successful tyings were slender and lightly-dressed nymphs - not the thick, over-dressed flies too often on sale today - even though they were tied on long-shank size eights and 10s. He then started to use hooks of a normal shank length but took the dressing right round the bend 'and much nicer they looked too.'. Full instructions for tying the fly are included in the appendix and Cove recommends that you tie the fly on all sizes and weights of hook, so that you can fish it at different depths.

There are many interesting and surprising comments and remarks in this book from a man who, for many years, suffered from an ability to catch too many fish. At times he comes across as the biggest fish-monger or hungriest of otters of all time yet can write: 'Remember that the ticket you buy is to enable you to fish, it doesn't give you a guarantee to catch fish.' Sound advice indeed.

The book lives up to the title and describes a simple yet practical way to catch fish in all sizes of stillwaters and reservoirs based, primarily, on fishing nymphs. What more could you ask for?

I still cannot come to terms with the cover photograph. He has a cigarette in his mouth in almost every photograph. Although I don't smoke, I don't mind if people do; but this photograph is just awful. I am surprised that it was ever chosen in the first place. But perhaps the publisher knew the book's market better than I do. Anyway, it would seem that the dreaded weed has yet to kill off Arthur Cove who is now an old man and, at least two years ago, was still fishing. What surprises me is that he has not produced a new and revised edition of his classic book. Let's hope that he does before he lights his last cigarette.

My Way With Trout by Arthur Cove. Published by The Crowood Press. 185 pages, paperback, £10.95.

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