Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Random jottings about some of the titles on  my book shelves…

Title: Spin Me A Line

Author: Richard Walker

Edited By: Peter Maskell

Publisher: Little Egret Press

Title: 50 Years On The Ouse

Author: Tony Miles

Publisher: Little Egret Press

Hat’s off to Tom O’Reilly. Who, you say?


Well, Tom is a bit of an unsung angling hero. He launched the Little Egret Press a few years back and has been turning out a steady stream of limited edition angling books ever since.


The books have ranged from the whimsical to the deadly serious via classic reprints of authors like Walker, Hilton and BB. Throw in anglers like Peter Wheat, Bill Quinlan, Bob Buteux, Jim Gibbinson and Tony Miles, plus lesser known names, though no less worthy, like Leighton McDonald and Dave Tipping.


I should mention that Tom has published five of his own works and contributed line drawings to all of them. What’s more most of them sit proudly on my bookshelves.


And just when you think you know what to expect, he comes up with two more books that are simply quite special, a new book from Dick Walker, Spin Me A Line, and Tony Miles’ 50 Years On The Ouse.


Walker’s book, which has contributions from Fred J Taylor, Peter Maskell and Pat Walker is subtitled, Fishing For Fun. It’s a collection of tales about the exploits of Walker and his pals, that he and Fred J began writing in the 1980’s but it was never finished due to Walker’s illness. Now it is it will fly off the shelves.


Miles’ book is an altogether different kettle of fish. It’s a serious work, a weighty tome, charting a remarkable career on one of the UK’s finest rivers.


It charts how the Ouse has changed from the days when Walker fished there. Indeed, the last time Tony and I fished together it was on Walker’s stretch and I was privileged to weigh and photograph his then biggest chub in 25 years. It’s hard to believe that in some strange way, our cosmic fates are not all interwoven, predetermined even.


Living in Yorkshire one can only envy those who have lived within striking distance of the Great Ouse especially during the past decade when it produced massive perch, huge chub and record barbel. Even Walker would have been astonished, and that’s to ignore the roach, carp, tench, bream and pike potential.


I doubt any angler alive could honestly resent Tony’s Ouse successes. He’s fished with such dedication that even a Yorkshireman like me is prepared to doff his cap, so much of it on his own, in the dark, come hell or high water and he’ll still be fishing there while ever he has the strength to drag his tackle to the furthest flung swims.


Spin Me A Line is limited to 750 copies and costs £24.95


50 Years On The Ouse is also limited to 750 copies and costs £29.95


There will be 30 leather bound copies of each book available at £165.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: The Accidental Angler

Author: Charles Rangeley Wilson

Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press

Based on the BBC TV series ‘The Accidental Angler’ is a cracking good read. Okay, you’ll not find many clues about how to catch gudgeon and sticklebacks down the local canal between the covers, and yes, he does like to cast a fly here and there, but as a first class angling read with a dash of adventure thrown in you simply won’t find a better read this Christmas. Rangeley-Wilson’s writing oozes atmosphere and you can’t ask for more than that.


One programme in the TV series was filmed on the Cauvery River in India, and he stays in the Bush Betta camp and fishes with the same guides I have but he manages to take the place to an even more exotic level. Not many angling writers can hit the spot like that.

The book costs £15.99. Buy it!


Title: Spirit Of The Pond

Author: Tom O’Reilly

Publisher: Little Egret Press

I’ve known Tom for many years now, having first met him at Anglers Paradise when he came along to cover a netting party for the Western Daily Mail. We’ve stayed friends ever since.


He’s a traditionalist, loves using vintage tackle, and despite his youthful appearance, fishes in the old ways. You’ll not find him chasing around the country, lugging mountains of high-tech gear and using designer baits in some vain attempt to catch headline grabbing specimens – far from it.


Chances are you’ll find him fishing his local farm pond, using a quill float with a loaf of bread for bait. Most likely he’ll spend as much time capturing the scene in his sketch book as trying to catch a fish for Tom understands better than most that there’s an awful lot more to fishing than catching fish.


Spirit Of The Pond is an updated edition of his first ever book, written ten years ago and is available in a limited edition of just 495 cloth bound copies priced £23.95 with a further 25 copies in full leather at £165. Collectors are going to love it and the best thing about works like this is that you can pretty much guarantee they will appreciate in value.


In his glowing introduction to the book, John Bailey writes, “I admire Tom O’Reilly rather in the way that I admire Chris Yates. I sort of wish I could be like them both but I can’t. I can’t focus in the same way that Tom can, or Chris come to that. As in The Secret Carp, the result is mesmerising. He’s a man stripped of all the banalities of modern day life. There’s no frippery here. It’s all absolute honest, hand-on-heart emotive response. It is brilliant. Whilst there are men and women who go fishing, The Spirit Of The Pond will always be cherished. He has created something that will never tarnish.”


There’s not much more I can add to that.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: Fishing On The Edge

Author: Leighton McDonnell

Publisher: Little Egret Press

It’s a fair bet that most of you will immediately say, ‘Leighton who?’


I know that was my reaction but don’t let that put you off because Fishing On The Edge is so packed full of interesting ideas and theories I was itching to get out and try some of them after reading it.


The tactics he’s used to startling effect with perch will certainly be tried next summer but it’s his chub methods that have got me straining at the leash. Having read how he has caught chub to 7lb on a bait I’ve never even considered using in the past. However, it’s not just the bait that’s important, it is how he prepares the swim before he even starts fishing. Fascinating stuff.


His research into weather patterns and moon phases is pretty detailed and it must have taken a bit of nerve to include the chapter on dowsing for fish. It’s easy to be sceptical about a black art like dowsing but professionals used it to locate drain pipes and other buried services quite successfully.


McDonell has used it to locate canal carp with unerring accuracy and also to find some very big chub. I’m not sure if dowsing rods will become a regular part of my fishing equipment but I’ll certainly be giving it a try sometime.


Trust me, if you yearn for a fishing book that will actually make you think rather than tell you how to tie a knotless knot, this is the one for you.


‘Fishing On The Edge’ comes in a limited edition of just 595 copies, each numbered and signed by both the author and illustrator Tom O’Reilly and costs £22.95 plus £4.00 P&P


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: A Glorious Waste Of Time

Author: Jim Gibbinson

Publisher: Little Egret Press

Fans of Jim Gibbinson certainly won’t be disappointed with ‘A Glorious Waste Of Time’, a book in which Jim gets free reign to reminisce about some of the fishing he has enjoyed in his life so far.


Many youngsters regard Jim as one of the all-time carp angling greats yet carp are merely one species that he has enjoyed success with. Here he ‘wastes his time’ on sticklebacks, perch, pike, tench, barbel, chub, cod, bass and even mullet, as well as carp and the adventures span several decades and numerous countries, too. He also gives a backstage insight into classic angling shows like ‘The Fishing Race’.


What I love about Jim is that he doesn’t hold back about things that offend him when he writes. Mallet man get a bashing, slow paying publishers get punished while birds, particularly bait stealing seagulls, get a broadside! This is your chance to find out just what makes the man tick.


‘A Glorious Waste Of Time’ is a limited edition of just 595 copies, each numbered and signed by both the author and illustrator Tom O’Reilly. It costs £21.95 post and packaging is £4.00.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: Angling Days

Author: Dave Tipping

Publisher: Little Egret Press

Here’s a novelty – a coarse fishing book written by a Yorkshire angler. Why is it that there are more anglers per capita in the North yet the majority of angling authors live in the Southern half of the country?


I reckon it’s because the fishing is easier down there!


Dave Tipping has always been pretty true to his roots so the size of specimens he targets are relevant to those of us who live in and around South Yorkshire. I’m pleased about that because many anglers become so obsessed by the size of fish published in the press that they spend half their lives chasing all over the country in search of fish that simply don’t exist up here. Alas, what we regard as a specimen in Yorkshire is barely worth getting out of bed to catch in the Oxfordshire or Dorset areas so these anglers ultimately give up fishing locally.


Dave hasn’t done that and it’s a shame more venues aren’t actually named in this book because it might inspire one or two Yorkshire anglers to fish nearer home and there’s so little reliable information that is readily available.


Alas Tipping goes to great lengths to keep practically all the waters referred to in the book a secret, reluctant to even name the Swale or Ure, never mind the nearest village, but he does lay down sufficient hints and clues for you to find some of them. The sleuths out there will find the book is a fascinating puzzle.


There’s not a lot of ‘how-to’ within the covers, in fact if it’s technical specs, rigs and recipes you’re looking for this is not the book for you, it is not another car mechanic’s manual. So why should you buy it?


Well, Tipping has always been the kind of writer who tries to create an atmosphere and tell you about the day rather than the detail. It’s a book for those with a bit of imagination.


‘Angling Days’ comes in a limited edition of just 595 copies, each numbered and signed by both the author and illustrator Tom O’Reilly and costs £21.95. Postage is £4.00.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: Flytyers of the World Volume 1

Author: Steve Thornton

Publisher: VEM Publishing

I know fly anglers are supposed to be a cut above coarse anglers and the latest book compiled by Steve Thornton proves it beyond question. I can hardly imagine a coarse fishing book retailing at 59.95 plus P&P would shift many copies but that’s not to suggest this tome is not worth every penny. Featuring Twenty of the world’s leading flytyers the book is beautifully presented in case bound format with a gold embossed spine, separate laminated dust jacket and packed from cover to cover with full colour photographs.


Printed on premium quality triple coated 150gsm art-paper, each book is numbered and hand embossed and the first edition is being limited to just 1000 copies.


For more information you can log on to or telephone 01472 241439.

Volume 2 in this series will be available in May with Volume 3 hot on its heels in September.


Title: Listen To The River Volume 2

Author: Steve Thornton

Publisher: VEM Publishing


This beautiful comprehensive flytying book is available as a Working Edition, a Clothbound Edition and a Leather Edition. There are also 16 Collectors Deluxe Editions, which contain all the book’s flies tied by Steve and specially mounted with a signed leather edition into a bespoke slipcase. Listen to the River. Volume 2 – 144 pages, 150GSM semi-gloss art – 245 x 160 cm – 20 stunning full and half page colour plates – over 440 macro step by step colour photographs.



Title: The Carp Years

Author: Tony Miles

Publisher: Little Egret Press

Tony Miles is regarded as one of the most successful chub and barbel anglers in the UK but he’s clearly spent a fair bit of time catching carp, too.


The Carp Years charts his early forays dating right back to 1967 and it clearly shows how times have changed in his admission that it took him until 1984 to catch a twenty pounder and another 12 years to catch a thirty. That’s in the UK, of course, because he did grind out some huge fish in France including an unforgettable 58lb monster from Lake Cassien.


I loved his tales of the struggling times, of spooky goings on at Redmire Pool and the gravel pits of Oxfordshire so in some ways I found the final chapter a little disappointing. Tony joined the Acton Burnell syndicate in 2003 and suddenly he transmogrifies from a hard grafting guy who knows a twenty pounder is still a damn good fish for most to someone who’s knocking out forties with monotonous regularity and in some ways diminishing his earlier achievements.


It’s still a cracking read though and if you’ve collected any of the earlier LEP titles this one won’t disappoint you.


The Carp Years is available in a limited edition of 800 copies, twenty five of which are bound in oasis goatskin. The cloth back version costs £24.95 plus £4 postage while the leather version is £145 plus £4.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: Angling Down The Years

Author: Peter Wheat

Publisher: Little Egret Press

In recent weeks I’ve delighted at reading a new book by one of the truly influential writers of my boyhood years, Peter Wheat. So enjoyable did I find “Angling Down The Years” that I restricted myself to reading only one chapter each day to eke out the pleasure, for this book is far too good to read at a single sitting, although you could quite easily do that.


The title of the book leaves you in no doubt as to what you’ll find beneath the covers. It spans the decades from his first fish to more recent times and is crammed with evocative tales and escapades with the greats of our times, for Peter has been fortunate to know and fish with the likes of Venables, Walker, Stone, the Taylors, Keal, Eustace, Hargreaves, Willock and Housby to name but a few and they all turn up between the covers of this, his eleventh book.


It’s a glorious journey peppered with evocatively named places that I drooled over in my youth, particularly in the Avon and Stour valleys. Place names like Salisbury, Winkton, Christchurch, Heron’s Dip, Throop and The Royalty still hold places in my psyche that have no right to be there thanks to the writings of Peter and his friends. Inspirational writers from an inspirational era, but the canvas here is not restricted to two rivers. There are tales of tench and carp, pike and perch, sharks, rudd and dace in waters from Kent to the Midlands, to Ireland and beyond, even the commercial water grass carp in 1950’s Singapore. He even describes making television programmes back in the black and white days. Great stuff!


It’s the latest in a line of seriously good books produced by The Little Egret Press. You get two-hundred pages and 70 black and white photographs, dozens of pen and ink drawings by Tom O’Reilly and the cover has a full colour painting by Robin Armstrong so the whole package is well worthy of the £23.95 cover price, plus £3.00 postage. Serious collectors will be pleased to hear that there is an Oasis goatskin bound edition with gold-tooled font boards and gilded fore edges that is limited to 25 copies only at £155 plus postage.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: It Started With A Perch –the exploits of a smitten angler

Author: John Martin

Publisher: The Lissanisk Press


I’ve often thought that every angler has a book inside him (or her). I’ve a mate, let’s just call him ‘The Jonah’ who can recall every scrape and escapade we have got up to in more than 30 years of angling together and it would make a rollicking good read. In fact it would read something like John Martin’s It Started With A Perch.


You’ve probably never heard of John Martin, I hadn’t until I bumped into him at a fishing show, then that’s not surprising in an angling world populated by media created stars, but that doesn’t mean every John Wilson book is worth reading or that John Martin’s isn’t. Far from it. Martin’s book is a little gem!


It’s not a book that tells you how to catch fish and it’s not a book that says, “Hey, look at me, I’m a superstar!” It’s a book that takes you on a journey, Martin’s journey through a lifetime of fishing adventures in the company of great friends and it taps into the very soul of what angling truly is to many people. He’s a guy who is struck with a passion for a sport that invades your very soul and if I wanted to explain to someone who has never fished what fishing is all about I’d probably give them a copy of this book. It’s the perfect gift for any angler and one that a non-angler could easily enjoy too.


The book costs £17.99 and the best way to get hold of a copy is to write to the author at The Martin’s Nest, 9 Gravel Pits Close, Bredon, Glos, GL20 7QL or give him a call on 01684 772970.


Title: Carp Pitch

Author: Tom O’Reilly

Publisher: Little Egret Press

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a great admirer of The Little Egret Press and the books it publishes. It’s never going to release a ‘Davinci Code’ or any other kind of blockbuster. It’s a niche publishing house geared towards producing the sort of books that wouldn’t get published anywhere else. Each release comes as a limited edition of miniscule proportions when compared with something like the ‘Code’.

And that’s why I love it and support it.


Little Egret allows the indulgent to write. It also breathes new life into long forgotten classics with its re-releases. It’s a throwback to times when angling writing was more than a car maintenance instruction manual. Essentially you get atmosphere for your buck rather than regurgitated ‘how-to’ from the pin-up of the moment.


Forget high gloss finishes, the latest computer wizardry and the incessant plugging of sponsored products. Think back to creamy paper, green typeface and inky line drawings. Think of tradition. Indeed, think! These aren’t books for the lover of thrash metal and rap music, they are made for the romantics among us.


Periodically the owner of Little Egret indulges himself and produces a book of his own which shows he’s not a business man, he’s a fan, a believer in his own concept. Carp Pitch is Tom O’Reilly’s third book, I believe, after Spirit Of The Pond and Wild Rover. You won’t learn how to catch a monster carp by reading it, instead you’ll get a collection of fishy tales that give an insight into the man and his family, his beliefs and what fishing is really all about. Fishing isn’t about the biggest or even the most, it’s about passion for the world around us, a passion for nature, a passion for life itself and that shines through in Tom’s book.


Carp Pitch is a limited edition of 400 copies, twenty of which are bound in oasis goatskin. The cloth back version costs £21.95 plus £4 postage while the leather version is £140 plus £4.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: Quest For The Best

Author: Jack Hilton

Publisher: Little Egret Press

There are three Pete Curtis paintings on my office wall. The first shows Dick Walker cradling his record carp, Clarissa. Next up is Chris Yates, again holding a record carp from Redmire Pool, and completing the piscatorial trinity is Jack Hilton. Some would argue he was the most talented angler of the trio.


Alas, Hilton is no longer with us but even if he were it would have made no difference. Hilton was an enigma. You might even say he was to angling what George Best was to football.


He had ability in spades, yet gave up on fishing as a 15-year-old and didn’t pick up a rod again until he was 31. Seventeen years later he gave it all up again but not before he had carved out a reputation that has stood the test of time.


In a short career he became the first man in history to land three 30lb carp. He banked a 7lb chub, perch to 4lb 6oz and specimens of many other species, and then suddenly called it a day.


Hilton’s ‘Quest For Carp’ is regarded as one of the all-time classic carp books so you will understand that it came as a rather pleasant surprise to discover that little Egret Press was about to launch a new book by him.

I say ‘new’ but it’s actually a compilation of his personal favourite articles from a classic era when he wrote columns for both the Anglers Mail and Angling Times.


Quest For The Best is available in a limited edition of 800 copies and costs £21.95 plus £4 p&p. This limited edition will include 45 full leather bindings, bound in Oasis goatskin with gold tooled front boards and spine design, gilt fore edges, marker ribbon and is slip cased at a price of £140 plus £4 p&p.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: Rod Hutchinson’s Carp Book

Author: Rod Hutchinson

Publisher: Little Egret Press

Many of us cannot afford the inflated prices that classic angling books are fetching these days so I’m an unashamed fan of the Little Egret Press. LEP has found a niche in updating and reprinting long forgotten classics and they do it rather well.


This reprint of Rod Hutchinson’s Carp Book, a great read from a giant in carp circles. Rod’s work may be instructional but it is never dry and his humour always shines through. An example of this comes on the very first page you might open, “This book is dedicated to my wife, who’s name escapes me for a moment.”


You’ll also learn that according to Rod all carp anglers have lovely legs and that he took up carp fishing after being jilted by one Winifred Slack. Apparently it was either the Foreign Legion or carp fishing…


Rod Hutchinson’s Carp Book is a limited edition of 600 copies. It costs £19.95 plus £4 p&p


This limited edition will include 35 full leather bindings, bound in Oasis goatskin with gold tooled front boards and spine design, gilt fore edges, marker ribbon and is slip cased at a price of £135 plus £4 p&p.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: Hook Line And Spinner

Author: Clive Gammon

Publisher: Little Egret Press


I had the good fortune once to spend a little time in the company of Clive Gammon at an Angling Writers Dinner at the Caer Beris Manor Hotel in Wales. Clive is the author of what is perhaps my favourite angling book, I Know A Place so I was rather pleased to see that LEP had published Hook, Line and Spinner which tells of Clive Gammon’s early exploits with pike, tench, trout, mullet, bass, carp and trout around South Wales some 50 years ago yet much of the practical advice he gives still stands up today.


Hook Line And Spinner costs £19.95 plus £3.00 p&p.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site


Title: No Need To Lie

Author: Richard Walker

Publisher: Little Egret Press


The late Richard Walker is widely accepted as the Godfather of modern angling. Walker was certainly innovative, inventing items like the Arlesey bomb and the heron bite alarm. He also created the legendary Mark 4 Avon rod and influenced the design of many of the items of tackle we take for granted today.


He was also a remarkably successful angler and captured a record carp weighing 44 pounds in an era when carp were generally regarded as uncatchable. This act alone is seen by many as laying the foundations for today’s burgeoning carp scene.


Beyond this, Walker was a great communicator. He wrote prodigiously. Through his books and a weekly column in the Angling Times, a column that ran continuously from 1953 until his death in 1985, he influenced generations of anglers in a way that no successor has come remotely close.


Sadly you will struggle to lay your hands on his books today. Good as they are they are long out of print, that is until Tom O’Reilly stepped in. With the original copyright expired, Tom sought permission from the surviving Walker family to publish this edition, a move that revealed Walker had left specific instructions should such an opportunity arise. Consequently this edition contains two new chapters, there are no photographs but it is lavishly illustrated with simple ink sketches from Tom’s own pen.


Each chapter deals with a different species and reveals the story behind Walker’s most memorable captures from a lifetime at the cutting edge. The result is delightful and I’m sure Walker himself would have been pleased. Half the copies have already been sold in advance on the strength of whispers and nudges, so if you would like to grab a copy for yourself you had better be smart.


Copies cost £18.95.


The painting on the dust jacket cover of No Need To Lie was painted by Robin Armstrong as a tribute to Dick Walker in 1987. It is a view of Redmire Lake from the dam and is available as a limited edition print, mounted and signed for just £16.95 including postage and packing from LEP.


For more information about the Little Egret Press call 01503 232800, email: or you can check out the publisher’s web site