Book Review – The First Seventy Years – Archie Braddock

The First Seventy Years, Archie Braddock, Little Egret Press

Over the past fifty years I’ve probably met or fished with every big name in the business including John Wilson, Matt Hayes, Des Taylor, Bob Nudd, Ivan Marks, Terry Hearn, Keith Arthur and practically anyone you care to name, but in all that time I never met an angler more enthusiastic and driven than Archie Braddock.

Archie is now in his eighties yet he’s still out fishing three times or more every week, winter and summer alike, often into the dark. His list of big fish captures is quite remarkable yet in many respects he slips under the radar because he’s not a ‘media tart’. He doesn’t set out to court publicity and that means a lot of the new kids on the block will never have heard of him, yet in Trent circles he’s something of a legend.

Archie pioneered using bait flavourings and additives for coarse fish. He was one of the first to use dead maggots instead of live ones, claiming them to be far superior. This must have been nearly 50 years ago yet few listened at the time.

It is only in the last ten years that the use of ‘dead reds’ has swept the board in match fishing circles and there’s rarely a week goes by when I now don’t report on a match won using the deadly reds.

I’ve had the privilege of fishing with him on countless occasions, particularly when he was developing a range of flavours suited to different species. Who would have thought that perch liked cheese flavours or roach prefer spicy flavours and geranium oils? Or that some flavours work best in cold water temperatures, others in warmer water?

Yet so many match and specialist angers continue to ignore these findings. Only last month I listened to a talk given by a successful international match angler who had fished in a world championships staged in South Africa. Because of the remote location and temperatures it proved impossible to obtain conventional baits like maggots and worms. All the teams were reduced to using groundbaits and maize and the teams using flavourings caught more than everyone else, even at that level. Up until this world championships bait flavourings were not even considered a tactical option. It will be in future.

Meanwhile, Archie must be smiling. He knew this decades beforehand.

The First Seventy years is a fascinating read. There’s not much in UK freshwaters that Archie hasn’t fished for and he has kept detailed diaries and records going back more than 50 years. He’s obsessive about water temperatures, river levels, about moon phases and pulling together all the different elements that add up to success. Over the course of 23 chapters Archie delves into the techniques and baits he’s used with great success. It’s not a bragging book, far from it, and in his own introduction he quips, “If I had another 70 years I’m sure I could come up with something really good.”

Meanwhile we will have to make do with ‘The First Seventy Years’. And be in no doubt, it is good. It will be an eye-opener for many. A book they will refer back to because hidden away between the covers are a few tactical gems that will help improve your success. Plus, it’s a rollicking good read and will make an excellent Christmas gift for any angler.

The First Seventy Years is available direct from the Little Egret Press web site in a limited edition hardback at £29.95p