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Trout Hunting - The Pursuit of Happiness by Bob Wyatt

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Reviewed by Terry Lawton

'At one end of the fly-fishing spectrum is the dull game of pulling a lure past the nose of a benighted farm animal, a sort of wet chicken that has had no experience beyond competing for food pellets in a herd of identical fish.' Does the pursuit of happiness lie this way? Not according to Bob Wyatt. He is too much of a thinking angler to be satisfied or happy catching flabby wet chickens.

Bob Wyatt's book is an interesting and entertaining mix of fly fishing history, philosophy, science, the practical and his and his fishing chums' stories and adventures. For Wyatt one of the main objectives of fly fishing is 'to do a difficult thing well, to catch a good fish with grace and style'. There are many of us who, at times, would do well to remember that simple statement. A minor quibble is that he does tend to go on a bit about downstream wet fly fishing - as favoured by his chum Bob - and even the upstream wet fly. I suppose this comes from the fact that many (most?) of the waters that he fishes do not have any restrictions on wet fly fishing.

He has written well on the subject of C & R and the practicalities and morality of fishing and catching and eating fish - or not - as the case may be and of his experiences of slot limits in Canada. As he writes, there is no point in arguing with antis and their closed minds. As he said: '. . . to have good wild trout fishing, you have to leave some fish in the water.' And talking of fish in waters: 'If we paid heed to the natural wariness of their (sic) quarry, worried less about magic fly patterns and more about presentation, we would discover that our home waters held more and better fish than we imagined.'

In the chapter on Fly Design, 'Anglers are increasingly aware,' Wyatt maintains 'that it is the hatching nymph and emerger that are central to dry fly fishing, not the dun.' The importance of this statement can be seen in the author's own pattern the DHE or Deer Hair Emerger which he says has two main triggers: the sunk abdomen of the emerger and the upright wing of the dun.

Bob Wyatt, who was born in Canada where he learnt to fish in Alberta and British Columbia, will be well-known to readers of Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazine. He lives in Scotland and now has two sets of 'home waters' to fish.

I think that this is a book which you need to read more than once to get the best out of it and it is a book that can stand being read again, and even again. Although there is a bibliography and an index of fly tyings, there is no general index which would have been useful.

Trout Hunting - The Pursuit of Happiness by Bob Wyatt is published by Swan Hill Press at £25. Hardback 191 pages.

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