I remember well the Punch cartoons of the 1970s and 80s, laden as they were with their satirical—and sometimes saucy—take on outdoor pursuits, and chortling at the sheer folly of the human condition. And so it is with Hatton’s 72 jocular pages on the origins of fly fishing from the caveman through to modern man who has somehow determined along the way that the sport we love be made much more difficult than is actually necessary, with often hilarious results.
Hatton reminds us of our propensity to ignore rational thought in pursuit of our hobby and points out—in a gently ribbing way—the irony surrounding the seriousness with which we take our sport, despite the fact we don’t eat much of what we catch anymore. It seems the further we get from our origins, the more we risk losing sight of why we fish at all. He paints a light-hearted picture of the clichéd rotund, hapless man as somebody who makes rules he is happy to break (with nobody looking), who wears vests with far too many pockets as to possibly be practical, and who would gladly risk life and limb to strip roadkill is his search for the right material with which to construct a fly when the simple worm would do. Meanwhile, our feminine muses out-fish us with ease.
A key to Hatton’s insight is his relatively recent arrival in the world of fly fishing, following his relocation to the Wye Valley in 2012. As editor of the website FishingMagic.com (another Fish&Fly group website/forum), he is a coarse angler of considerable skill and experience, but the freshness with which he identifies with the failure of many of us to catch anything at all is instantly warming. The stannah stair lift taking salmon into the next pool only to be caught by queuing anglers had me spitting my whiskey across the floor in laughter.
If you know a fly fisher who isn’t overly sensitive as to the often preposterous nature of the creed, and who isn’t afraid to laugh at himself, then this book is for him. I can see many such anglers finding this in their Christmas stocking, perfect as it is for cajoling us into seeing the funny side of life.
Garrett Fallon, editor, Fallon’s Angler
(All Fluff & Waders is available now priced £12.99 + £1.99 p&p from our Thomas Turner online store.)