More Book Reviews…

Are Angling Books A Good Investment?

A little while back I reviewed Big Carp reprint of Dick Walker’s famous tome in this column. The book’s publishing house, The Little Egret Press, does a fabulous job of reissuing old classics and bringing limited editions to the market by authors who the mainstream press would overlook because they don’t create mass market appeal.


It’s classic niche marketing stuff. Six hundred copies of a cloth bound book costing £18.95 is never going to set the pulses racing of a major publishing house that shifts best sellers by the million but it works well enough for entrepreneurs like Tom O’Reilly who runs the family printing business in Cornwall.


He’s pulled together quite a nice portfolio of limited editions to date with works by Walker, BB, Quinlan, Buteux and others. Each release has included a very limited run of leather bound editions at silly prices. At least I used to think they were silly until a leather bound copy of Walker’s Big Carp appeared for sale on


When published in June 2003, the 30 leather bound copies were offered at £125 each. On 1st Nov 2003 a copy of the same book raised a staggering £830 on the eBay auction website.


Sure beats the hell out of stocks and shares.


Anyway, while trawling through some old articles and stuff I came across a bunch of reviews I wrote after reading various books. It seemed such a shame to leave them buried and who knows, they might tempt you into buying a book now and then.


The views expressed here are strictly my own and in no way are they paid advertorials.

Title: Carp Fishing

Author: Richard Walker

Publisher: Little Egret Press

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Richard Walker’s capture of his record carp, Clarissa, Little Egret Press released a limited edition copy of his seminal work, Carp Fishing.


Walker’s contribution to angling is unsurpassed and the greatest tribute to his genius can be measured in the number of modern articles that do little more than regurgitate his theories.


So much of what Walker wrote about the behaviour of carp when the book was first published back in 1960 is as fresh today as it was revolutionary then. Lavishly illustrated with Tom O’Reilly’s ink silhouettes and classic black and white photographs this book will be a welcome addition to any anglers’ collection.


Sadly most will be disappointed because, with a print run restricted to just 570 copies, it will rapidly sell out and become a collector’s item.


Cloth bound copies cost £18.95 or you may wish to order one of only 30 leather bound copies at £120. Postage and packing is £2.


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


Title: Big Carp

Author: Richard Walker

Publisher: Little Egret Press

If you are looking for that special present for a mad keen carp angler but want to be pretty certain that no-one else will have had the same idea, try this on for size – a forty page book that costs fifty pounds plus an extra ten pounds should you want a slip cover.


That’s what I call indulgence!


Clearly this is no ordinary book. Big Carp, by the late Richard Walker is a limited edition of just 100 hand-bound, half-leather copies, printed on cream laid paper, illustrated, signed and numbered by Tom O’Reilly.


All joking apart, it will be much sought after by collectors and if you are in any doubt as to the quality, no lesser angler than H. R. H. The Prince Of Wales wrote, “The craftsmanship in the production of the leather bound book is stunning and the contents match its cover. It is beautifully written and the illustrations perfectly complement the text…


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

Title: The Wild Rover

Author: Tom O’Reilly

Publisher: Little Egret Press

Tom O’Reilly is a bit of an enigma. His writing style evokes a sense of period yet he is young in both body and spirit. As the angling columnist in the Western Daily News he writes a thousand words each week about his exploits in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. I doubt he’s ever held a pole or sat for days behind electronic alarms. Tom is more your traditional angler, more at home with cane than carbon, but he has a knack of hitting the spot with me.


Whether he writes about spinning around the rocky shorelines for bass and mullet, casting a fly for sea trout and salmon, nymphing for wild trout on Dartmoor or trying to fool a wily old carp in his local club pond, Tom takes you there. Not for nothing was he awarded the coveted Best New Writer award by the Angling Writers Association last year but alas, few will be familiar with his work unless they happen to stumble across one of his columns while on holiday in the South West.


His debut book, Waters of Life, brought his talent to a wider audience but like his latest, The Wild Rover, can only have a limited impact because they are published as limited editions.


The Wild Rover is a collection of Tom’s favourite columns and it makes an ideal ‘dipping’ book. Any time you have ten minutes to spare you can open the pages at random and enter a world where the pace of life is slower and success is not measured in pounds and ounces.


Angling giant Des Taylor kindly wrote the forward and his final paragraph says it all, “I think the best compliment I can give to this book is when Tom sent me the manuscript to read I started one evening and only stopped for cups of coffee and a couple of whisky’s. I simply couldn’t put it down till I had read every page. A little gem.”


Available in a limited edition of 475 cloth bound copies, individually numbered and signed by the author, at £18.95 plus £2.00 postage and packaging. A further 25 leather bound copies have been produced at £120.

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

Title: Fishing With The Famous

Author: Bob Buteux

Publisher: Little Egret Press

The Little Egret Press is fast building a reputation for producing superb limited edition angling books and the latest, Fishing With The Famous, by Bob Buteux is arguably the best yet.


The book is lavishly illustrated with over 120 photographs and drawings by Tom O’Reilly and charts 50 years of fishing for carp, chub, barbel, roach, tench and pike in the company of anglers like Dick Walker, Fred J Taylor, Peter Stone, BB, Jack Hilton, Bill Quinlan, Tom Mintram, Len Arbery and Kevin Clifford


Though you will discover insights into Bob’s methods and thought processes, this is not a technical book – it’s an adventure. An adventure that entertained me from the first page to the very last and one that I will dip back into on a regular basis during the long winter nights when I need a bit of inspiration to keep going.

If you are looking for an enjoyable read that captures the very spirit of specialist angling, look no further. This is the best I’ve read in a long time.


Fishing With The Famous is available in a limited edition of 600 copies of which 30 are bound in full leather with gilt fore edges, five spine bands, gold embossing and a slip case. The cloth bound version costs £21.95 plus £2 postage per book. The full leather version is £125 plus £2 postage


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

Title: For All Those Left Behind

Author: John Andrews

Publisher: Mainstream Publishing

Each Christmas I get approached by half a dozen frantic wives and girlfriends for ideas about what they can buy their angling better halves. Short of suggesting a bag of pellets, two tins of sweetcorn and a new float, I tend to stick with the tried and trusted book suggestions.


With ‘how-to’ style magazines and newspapers dominating the shelves of newsagents it is refreshing to discover an angling book that is radically different. John Andrews’ debut book is a great read. In haunting prose, he describes his search to come to terms with the loss of his father, taking the reader on his personal odyssey from Skye to Ireland and from Cuba to the green fields of Albion.  For All Those Left Behind is a deeply moving memoir and a paean to the redemptive powers of the tranquillity and joys of fishing.


Available from: Mainstream Publishing Co. (Edinburgh) Ltd, 7 Albany Street, Edinburgh EH1 3UG.

Tel: 0131-557 2959

Web Site:

Price: £7.99 (Paperback), £12.99 hardback

Title: Walker’s Pitch

Author: Richard Walker

Publisher: Little Egret Press

The godfather of modern angling, Richard Walker’s hugely influential character lives on in the work of practically every other writer you care to read. After all, he’s been plagiarised more than any other angling author in history and anyone with a sense of history will, like me, smile when the latest ‘invented’ angling star appears in the weekly angling press with his latest theory which just happens to be a regurgitation of the masters’ work.


Topics found in this book like, you need more than luck, an anglers sixth sense, fishing without a float, thermometers and going fishing without bait, relying instead upon natural baits collected on the bank have all were covered by a leading writer in a weekly paper in the nine months leading up to me writing this review. I wonder where he got those ideas from!


Though best known for his seminal book, Still Water Angling, I’m prepared to venture that Walker’s Pitch eclipses it. Bearing in mind it was first published in 1959, his promotion of the use of bite alarms and thermometers was revolutionary. Always stimulating, often provocative, those were his traits.


Take the chapter discussing uncaught big fish. “And then, what about the Trent?” he asks, “Anglers living in that district thought barbel and big chub virtually extinct. One chap went as far as to say that Trent anglers were forced to snatch tiddlers because the river held nothing else for them to fish for. Then came the pollution; and chub to six pounds, as well as quite a few barbel, were killed. Nothing but tiddlers in the Trent, eh?”


I can only imagine what he’d have made of the river today.


Treat yourself. Or better still, get someone else to treat you. No angler with a brain between his ears will regret reading this book. The new edition includes a few notes by Walker’s wife, Pat, regarding post publication thoughts from Walker himself and a new foreword by Fred Buller.


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

Title: The Waters Of Life,

Author: Tom O’Reilly

Publisher: Little Egret Press

Angling book sales have imploded in recent years. Faced with an onslaught of competition from glossy magazines, newspapers, videos, CD-Roms, DVDs, radio and a host of angling TV programmes, most major publishers have withdrawn gracefully to concentrate on the lucrative cookery and gardening markets.


But nature abhors a vacuum and one man’s problem is another’s opportunity. A shrinking market is the place where entrepreneurs flourish and 27-year-old Tom O’Reilly, fresh from his debut at the AWA awards, has stepped in to capitalise with a series of limited edition books aimed directly at the niche in which the larger publishers simply couldn’t survive.


Last year he republished Dick Walker’s No Need To Lie on his own Little Egret Press, an edition that has already sold out.


The latest book to be released by Little Egret is from O’Reilly’s own pen, The Waters Of Life. It is a delightful book with almost every page illustrated by one of the author’s own ink drawings. There are no instructions on how to concoct the latest secret bait nor how to tie the latest wonder-rig. The Waters of Life is about the spirit of fishing, the magic and the beauty.


“Its bright gold scales beam at me, reflecting the summer sun, three pounds perhaps, may be more! I unhook the chub and return it to the water where it happily swims off. Above me a buzzard shrieks to its mate or a passer by. In an oak tree opposite me a crow chatters back as if answering the buzzard. ‘Did you see the chub?’ With an abrupt peep a kingfisher calls back, ‘I could do better!’”


Whimsical to fault at times, but that’s not a bad thing, O’Reilly appeals to the purist within all of us. It is timeless and will be popular for a long time to come with those who still fish because they recognise the need to commune with their deeper instincts, to escape into a place where the ills of modern society are far away.


The Waters of Life is available in a limited edition of only 370 copies. Cloth bound copies cost £18.95, leather bound (last few left) £120.00. Of the leather bound version no lesser person than H.R.H. The Prince Of Wales wrote, ‘The craftsmanship in the production of the leather-bound book is stunning… it is beautifully written and the illustrations complement the text.”


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

Title: Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing

Author: Bernard Venables

Publisher: Map Marketing Ltd


Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing is perhaps the best loved fishing book of all time. It is certainly the biggest seller. Unfortunately it has been out of print for many years and is much sort after in second hand book shops and at angling fairs, so it is great to hear that a new version will be re-published in time for Christmas.


Author and artist, Bernard Venables, who both wrote and illustrated the original, hatched a plan to raise funds to run NFA coaching days after helping out on an NFA training day by reprinting his work and donating one third of the cover price to fund future coaching.


Said Bernard, “Mr Crabtree is not only about teaching fishing, it is about teaching the three guiding principles that have governed my life – respect for the fish, respect for the environment and respect for the spirit of angling.”


Set in a period when anglers fished with cane rods and knocked prime specimens of the head in order to have them set-up by taxidermists, [Sort of like today, really (Don’t go there, Bob!)] it evokes an idyllic era when fishing was massively popular.


Copies cost £10.00 plus £1.50 P&P. You will be asked to nominate either the NFA (National Federation of Anglers) or the S&TA (Salmon and Trout Association) for your choice of training donation.


To obtain a copy, ring the telephone hotline: 0207 526 2328 or contact Map Marketing Ltd, 92-104 Carnwath Road, London, SW6 3HW


For further information about training days for youngsters contact the NFA on 01283 734 735 or the S&TA on 0207 283 5838.

Title: The Syndicate (R.I.P.) Part II

Author: Mark Cunnington

Publisher: Trio Publishing

The saga continues! Carping’s answer to Harry Potter has only done it again with a warts and all insight into what makes anglers tick.


Gone are the characters that made his first book a rollicking read only to be replaced by a bunch of fat boys, cowboys, game boys and a decidedly dodgy dog.


Picking up more or less where the last book ended, our hero is out of jail and enjoying the good life, thanks in no small way to an unexpected windfall. The unforgettable Rambo returns and the pair set their sights on the ‘eff’ word. By the way, that’s ‘eff’ as in forty, not the ‘effing’ words you are probably thinking of!


Despite this, a parental advisory sticker, you know, the sort you see on every other CD these days, wouldn’t go amiss on the cover. It might reveal, “This book contains sex, drugs, violence and strong language.”


If that hasn’t got you hooked, I guess there’s some good fishing to fall back on. Treat yourself to a copy and soak up the atmosphere. When it comes to fishing books, Mark Cunnington is in a league of his own.


Copies cost £9.95 plus £2 P&P from Trio Publishing. A 24 hour credit card hotline is available on 01424 202848 and online purchases can be made through the website.

Title: A Summer On The Nene

Author: ‘BB’

Title: Hook, Line And Spinner

Author: Clive Gammon

Publisher: Little Egret Press

As anglers we all love a bit of nostalgia when it comes to reading books and that’s why I particularly like the efforts that Tom O’Reilly of the Little Egret Press has made to publish limited edition books with a soul and to reprint classics that went out of print long ago.


His catalogue already includes works by Walker, Hilton, Wheat, Gibbinson, Arbery, Buteux and Miles and if you liked the earlier books you’ll love these latest additions.


To commemorate the centenary year of DJ Watkins-Pitchford’s birth, a writer known universally as ‘BB’, Little Egret Press has republished A Summer On The Nene, a book first released in 1967 and it describes a journey by boat down one of my favourite rivers, the Nene.


Hook, Line and Spinner 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 gave still stands up today.


The books cost £19.95 each plus £3.00 p&p from The Little Egret Press, 1 The Stables, Port Elliot Estate, St Germans, Cornwall, PL12 5ND. Tel: 01503 232800 or log on to

Title: The Little Book Of Fishing

Publisher: Green Umbrella Publishing

If your tight Uncle Freddie has taken the easy option this Christmas and stuffed a very small book token in your stocking and left you wondering what on earth you can spend a whole seven pounds on, check out The Little Book of Fishing from Green Umbrella Publishing. It’s full of facts and figures in the A-Z section, which starts with angling, obviously, but how many will know that a Zulu is a traditional pattern of wet fly? Or that Zander were introduced to the UK in 1878 at Woburn Lakes, in Bedfordshire. Whether fish can ‘hear’ is open to debate but some do have otoliths (‘earbones’) the size of a penny. And, naturally, this Little Book has a few tales of ones that got away…

At £6.99 in hardback, with a dust-jacket, this 16cm square tome packs a lot into its 128 pages, including 225 illustrations. It would have made a nice little stocking filler had I told you a couple of weeks earlier…

Bah, humbug!