I read this book every year before the start of the new season, and each time I get something new from it. This year, I gleaned particular pleasure from the opening chapter Roots. It is the most succinct, informed and informative essays covering the long history of fly fishing I have read. I can't remember having read it before - in previous years I most probably skipped it, eager to get to the actual fishing bits, but this year I took it all in, and I'm glad I did.
Peter Lapsley's writing style is, as I've already mentioned, succinct. Dermot Wilson, quoted on the book's dust cover, says:
'...he never wastes a word and every word is a mot juste.'
It's true. Consider this withering yet economic semi-dismissal of Frederick Halford's legacy:
'It can be argued - and I would not disagree - that chalk-stream fly-fishing would probably have developed much as it did without Halford's intervention.'
There follows a couple of pages discussing the development of the dichotomy between Halford (and his followers) and Skues' relative philosophies during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One is left in no doubt as to who Lapsley regarded as having left the most lasting legacy.
Peter Lapsley died on Saturday 3rd August 2013 aged 70