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Essential Guide to Flyfishing - Nick Hart

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Reviewed by John Bailey

Nick Hart is making quite a splash these days in the UK scene. He's based down in the southwest where he has a beautifully put together shop situated at the gateway of some really good wild fishing. But it's basically as a guide and instructor that's really making waves for Nick. He's part of the Hardy Greys' Academy which is doing some really good things throughout the UK and he's also signed up with Hardy Greys as a consultant. He's seen in many magazines, appears as a demonstrator at shows and evidently has got his finger on the pulse of the UK fly scene. A young man going far.

He's also a chum of Henry Gilbey. Henry now is better known for his sea fishing but Henry is also a fly fisherman of note and a great photographer. So when the two of them come together to produce a book like this expect some good stuff. And that's exactly what you've got. Henry's photographs magnificently complement Nick's diagrams and text and for just under £10 this little book - just sixty-four pages long - should become the by word for any aspiring fly fisher.

Over the years plenty of guides have come out for fly fishing but most of them are dull or rarefied, or out of date, or incomprehensible, or a mixture of the lot. Not so this punchy little book. Nick takes us through every aspect of fly fishing - tackle and flies, casting, the trout and its anatomy, fish food, fly fishing tactics, equipment and licences in ways that are far less predictable than this running order might seem. It's his down-to-earth, hands-on advice that will please everybody. It's like Nick has really been there, understands the problems and has the ability to steer you through.

What do we like about this book? Well, the casting explanations and photographs he's got are as good as we've come upon and as effective as you can get outside an actual lesson or perhaps a video clip. They really do help.

We also like his down-to-earth description of the flies that must form a basis of a collection. Okay, this could be dry but it's not. What Nick does is explain how and where to use the flies and that gives a quite different dimension. He doesn't complicate matters, he makes everything direct and the result is eminently readable commonsense.

He also makes complete sense of the thorny question of tackle choice. So much of this is mumbo-jumbo but Nick cuts right to the chase, gets to the meat and tells you exactly what you need and what to avoid. It's like his treatment of the trout diet, direct, clear and commonsensical.

When it comes to methods it's the same. All the important ones put down in a simple straightforward manner with some cracking diagrams to back them up.

True, this little book isn't a work of genius exactly. It's too short and too basic for that but what is immediately apparent is that Nick is a teacher of genius. The pages are frequently decorated with boxes of key points to remember. They're direct, they are important and they make an impression. And Nick's sense of humour rollicks its way throughout the pages. You sense Nick is good fun to fish with and you'd be right. Boredom doesn't come into the equation. Fishing should be fun and with Nick it is.

So our advice is threefold. First if there's any element whatsoever of your fly fishing that you are unsure about, order this book. (01398331660 or 01398323008 or www.hartflyfishing.demon.co.uk ) The second bit of advice, go to his superb shop and buy the book personally. You'll find it at the Exe Valley Fishery, Exbridge, Nr. Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9AY. This is a great area anyway with some super fishing, not least in Nick's own lakes. And thirdly, why not book a day with Nick in person. This is something you absolutely won't regret. Take the opportunity to nail down anything that's been bothering you. You won't find a better guy to wield the hammer!

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