16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 40


WE do not doubt that beginners can learn a great deal about the art of angling by studying carefully the books of experienced fishermen. Mr. Shaw's book (which by additions and alterations has become a new work rather than a second edition) is written to instruct, and the writer is well qualified to do so. In 1904 at the International Tournament Mr. Shaw won the amateur championship for trout-fly casting, and lie is now established in London as a professional teacher of the art of throwing a fly. His directions are most lucid, his diagrams deserve to be carefully studied, and all those portions of the book which are concerned with the practical side of fishing are instructive. To tell the truth, Mr. Shaw is much better (in spite of the title he has given his book) when he deals with the art of fishing and not with the science. The entomological parts of his work are very incomplete and un- satisfactory. The portions which treat of the life history of salmon leave much to be desired; nor are the author's observations on pisciculture and Boards of Conservators worthy of particular attention. On the other hand, there is much that is admirable in the earlier part of the book, where the art of catching shy trout, both with a floating and a sunk fly, is described in a clear and vivid manner. Mr. Shaw is beat when he is didactic; but we must take exception to some of the knots which he advises the unfortunate beginner to make use of in putting on his eyed flies. In dealing with rods and tackle he recommends the excellent wares of many well-known makers. Their advertisements are to be found at the end of the book. Nor does he omit to mention and praise several articles of his own invention. There is a fishing-knife which seems good ; there is a small portable electric lamp which can be suspended round the neck and used when putting on flies during the late evening rise; there is a light and collapsible butterfly net—price only 30s.— for catching and examining winged insects, and so matching the fly on the water ; there is an invention for fixing spectacles to one's fishing-cap. We have not so far burdened ourselves when fishing with any of these luxuries, and have no present intention of doing so. Nor have we found it necessary to carry binoculars for discovering what fly a trout is taking, nor a watchmaker's glass for examining the soundness of a piece of gut before using it. But there is no harm in doing so if one likes to multiply the number of articles carried in the bag or creel. We have heard the pleasures of fishing praised on many grounds, but no writer on angling has ever before thought of the following merit of the sport :—" It is a pleasure to draw the attention of my readers to the fact that, with one exception, the articles I mention are English made, and to think that in my favourite sport we are almost entirely inde- pendent of foreign manufactured goods." How unpatriotic not to warn us against the " one exception." Can Mr. Shaw be referring to American split-cane rods or to Spanish silk- worm gut ? Names are a weak point with Mr. Shaw : if we remember rightly, the Italian fasting-man was not " Dr. Sacchi" ; the eminent writer on angling is not "Sir Hubert Maxwell " ; and a reference to "Sir Edward Clarke" is obviously a mistake for Sir Edward Grey. In spite of all, a beginner can learn much from parts of this book.