J. R. Harris is an angler and a scientific naturalist – a happy combination, and one which is by no means unique, for angler-naturalists are among the pillars of the British natural history.
Anglers, of all human groups devoted to a hobby or a sport, are perhaps the most strongly obsessed with their occupation and with all that belongs to it. Indeed, the fact that sporting fish feed primarily upon insects and can be caught by devices which simulate these insects, has been the basis for a scientific literature and an equally astonishing display of invention in fly-tying.
Nevertheless, while anglers have always been interested in the scientific basis of simulation of the insects as lures for fish, none of the many books on angling that have been published have ever dealt satisfactorily with the angler’s entomology in all its aspects. In this book, for the first time, really adequate illustrations – both in colour, by T. O. Ruttledge, and in black-and-white – and a really adequate text are provided, by which all stages of all the important angler’s flies can be identified, whether the angler fishes in Ireland, Scotland, Wales or England.
Furthermore, Mr Harris has rationalised the nomenclature of the flies without breaking with tradition, so that when anglers from Ireland and England meet and discuss the different kinds of nymphs, duns and spinners, they can, with the use of this book, be quite certain precisely what it is they are talking about. The writers of the past were not always quite so certain, for they were not armed with colour photographs or with the latest developments in entomology.
We feel convinced that this book will awaken a new critical practice, and study of what is quite the most fascinating part of angling. Further, it will be of interest to a wide circle of naturalists beyond the anglers and the entomologists.
‘It is without question the best thing of its kind that has appeared for over a century.’ The Field
‘Without doubt a book of this description has long been required. The study of this work will send each one of us to the river that much the wiser and with that much enhanced enjoyment.’ Country Life
‘Full of superb coloured photographs and delightful illustrations, this is a very pleasing volume. It fills a very real need in angling literature.’ Daily Telegraph
‘This book is the first written which deals adequately with the relationship between aquatic insects and the angler, and between flies and the recognised artificial patterns … This book should be read by all who have any interest in angling beyond that of taking fish from the water.’ The Angler’s News