Book Review – Fishing With Walker – Edited by Peter Maskell

It is more than a quarter of a Century since Dick Walker died yet his legacy lives on. It does so for good reason. He was a one-off. Walker had a gift – he could raise controversy for the fun of it, he might inspire and at the same time he’d challenge almost everything you believed in. He was inventive, brought science to fishing, developed numerous items of tackle we take for granted today, but above all else he could catch fish.

I have one major complaint about Fishing With Walker – it is not long enough! After reading through 197 pages I wanted to read 200 more! No, make that 400 more, for Walker doesn’t just educate, he entertains, even when I’m not quite sure he’s being serious.

Take his statement on pike as an example: ‘In the majority of fisheries, pike are more of a liability than an asset’. Talk about lighting the blue touch paper. But he didn’t make these statements lightly. He argued his corner vehemently and in doing so took the issues of pike conservation way beyond the confines of the floppy hatters of the time. In little more than a dozen words he managed to involve every angler in the country. And who’s to say he believed it? Who’s to say he didn’t set himself up in a trap to set folk talking seriously? It’s a tactic he was no stranger to.

We’ll never know for sure, will we?

And it wasn’t just pike that came under his scrutiny. Walker had an opinion on almost everything. His views on match fishing lit fires under the match fishing columnists of the time and you would regularly find the columnists at the back of the paper (match anglers) locking horns with those nearer the front (specialists) in heated debate. But this was healthy and invigorating.

The book is broken down into four parts – Catching Fish, Tactics, Controversy and Comedy, and Facts About Fish. In Facts About Fish Walker writes about whether fish can see colours. He explores a notion that fish cannot see red. This by the way was in 1966, almost 50 years ago. His conclusion was that if you fish on the assumption that fish can see a whole lot better than you can, you will catch more.

To illustrate how times have changed, Angling Times’ top columnist of a few years ago resurrected the same subject – his solution to the conundrum was buy the new red line I’m promoting…

Oh dear, I suspect Walker would have exposed the man as an imposter had he been aroun! But times change, I guess. No longer do media darlings write about the beauty of angling, or explore it’s mysteries and conundrums. How foolish when you can be paid to promote your sponsors wares instead? The publisher will be happy because he can use this to secure a market share of that same company’s advertising budget.

No, we’ve come a long way since Walker but I’m not sure we haven’t gone backwards. Commercial interests have swamped the spiritual reasons why fishing captivated us in the first place.

As a youth Walker inspired me. In my middle ages he gave me much to reflect on. Today he has my utmost respect; he was a man ahead of his time. This book gives you a mere insight into why. Go out and buy it. You won’t regret it.

More of the same please!

Fishing With Walker is edited by Peter Maskell and copies can be obtained through the Dick Walker web site

Fishing With Walker is limited to just 500 numbered and signed copies and is priced at £26.95 + £2.75 First Class p&p. To order copies direct, just send a cheque for £29.70, made payable to Peter Maskell Publishing Services, to Peter Maskell, Churchview House, Main Street, Wilsthorpe, STAMFORD, PE9 4PE. For further details you can email: petermaskell@btinternet.com

A limited number of 35 signed leather-bound copies in slipcases are also available at £165 + £7 p&p.

One thought on “Book Review – Fishing With Walker – Edited by Peter Maskell

  1. There was nothing Old Dick liked more than an argument, and to tell the truth he didn’t always win them either. The difference between the heated debates of yesteryear, and the insulting, snide backstabbing remarks of today’s websites was that in those days the debates were conducted without rancour.

    One of Dick’s opponents in print was Geoffery Bucknall, who was a talented all round angler, and still is I am informed.

    Some of the debates in various magazines were extremely heated, especially the one about whether we should stuff plugs up the bore of fishing tubular rods to prevent them becoming ovular as they are bent.

    It was found out at a later stage that a lot of Dick’s and Geoffery’s debates had actually been contrived between the two of them – to get the readers wound up.

    Another set-to involved Dick and his very close friend – Peter Stone. Now Peter Stone was a superb all rounder who started off part of his angling life by being a very competent match angler. He held the Thames record match weight for part of his life. At about that time, Peter was catching large numbers of Thames chub on what we today call a “Waggler float”. Dick chimed in by telling Peter that any number of floats would have done the same job as the waggler and no-one should ever consider using a float that was located on the line using locking shot.

    But I reckon old Dick lost the plot here. He somehow didn’t understand that it was the weight on the float that enabled it to be controlled at distance down a far off line on a river with a medium flow. The debate is highlighted in the book – “The Stone/Walker Letters”.

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