All Fluff and Waders – A Pictorial History of Fly Fishing by Cliff Hatton
Countless days and nights in earnest pursuit of specimen ‘coarse’ fish brought Private Eye cartoonist and life long angler, Cliff, to the new horizon of fly-fishing for trout and salmon. A move to the Wye Valley from the gravel pits of south-east England opened up a brand new field of fishing possibilities and just the right environment in which he could ponder the subject and get his thoughts onto paper: why do fly-fishermen make things so hard for themselves? And how on Earth did the disdain for anything other than fly-caught fish come about?
‘All Fluff & Waders’ is the result of those deliberations: 72 pages of full colour illustrations and cathartic commentary that’ll bring a knowing smile to seasoned ‘fly-only’ men and women everywhere…you might even find you’re included.
I remember well the Punch cartoons of the 1970s and 80s, laden as they were with their satirical—and sometimes saucy—take on outdoor pursuits, and sniggering at the sheer folly of the human condition. And so it is with Hatton’s 72 jocular pages on the origins of fly fishing from the caveman through to modern man who has somehow determined along the way that the sport we love be made much more difficult than is actually necessary, with often hilarious results.
Hatton reminds us of our propensity to ignore rational thought in pursuit of our hobby and points out—in a gently ribbing way—the irony surrounding the seriousness with which we take our sport, despite the fact we don’t eat much of what we catch anymore. It seems the further we get from our origins, the more we risk losing sight of why we fish at all. He paints a light-hearted picture of the clichéd rotund, hapless man as somebody who makes rules he is happy to break (with nobody looking), who wears vests with far too many pockets as to possibly be practical, and who would gladly risk life and limb to strip roadkill is his search for the right material with which to construct a fly when the simple worm would do. Meanwhile, our feminine muses out-fish us with ease.
A key to Hatton’s insight is his relatively recent arrival in the world of fly fishing, following his relocation to the Wye Valley in 2012. As editor of the website FishingMagic.com, he is a coarse angler of considerable skill and experience, but the freshness with which he identifies with the failure of many of us to catch anything at all is instantly warming. The stannah stair lift taking salmon into the next pool only to be caught by queuing anglers had me spitting my whiskey across the floor in laughter.
If you know a fly fisher who isn’t overly sensitive as to the often preposterous nature of the creed, and who isn’t afraid to laugh at himself, then this book is for him. I can see many such anglers finding this in their Christmas stocking, perfect as it is for cajoling us into seeing the funny side of life.
Garrett Fallon, editor, Fallon’s Angler
The combination of Cliff’s wonderful pictures and often wry words are a complete delight. If we fail to stand back and take a long hard look at ourselves then he has done it for us, at times with poignancy, always with humour and great skill. There are times when you can almost see what the characters are thinking and hear what they are saying before you’ve even read the caption!
I love it when someone comes at something from a completely different angle. I love it so much I’m off to find copies of his first two books.
Bob James, well-known life-long angler best-known for his starring role in BBC 2’s ‘A Passion for Angling’.