Angling Lines – Fishing in Scotland by Bruce Sandison. Published by Black and White Publishing at £9.99.
I first came across Bruce Sandison’s writings on fly fishing as a teenager just starting out in the sport in the early 1980s when he wrote a series of articles for Trout & Salmon magazine.
I was captivated by his writing at the time. His articles seemed to capture perfectly for me the charm and attraction of fly fishing. It also helped that he was based in the north of Scotland and practiced a traditional style of fly fishing that I could easily relate to.
So it was that I came to this book with a great deal of anticipation but also a small degree of trepidation. Would Sandison’s writing still contain that certain magic ingredient which had enchanted me all those years ago? I was not to be disappointed.
Angling Lines is a large collection (over 200 pages) of short chapters containing thoughts and reflections on one of the UK’s most popular pastimes. Sandison’s enthusiasm for the sport leaps from the page as he covers such topics as casting, favourite flies, big fish hooked and lost, preparation, fishy tales, favourite lochs, tackle, tactics, the close season and so on, all wrapped up in his angling travels round Scotland.
There are beautiful and majestic descriptions of the landscapes and fishing venues that he has visited in the Highlands and Islands, which really bring his travels to life, including two or three chapters on Shetland.
What also shines through in the book is Sandison’s sense of humour and the ability to both laugh at himself and not take yourself too seriously. Important qualities for any serious angler to possess.
If I do have a quibble with the book it would be that at some points it does have an identity crisis and tends to become too much of a guide book, giving map references and long-winded descriptions on how to get to a particular loch that many readers will probably never visit in their lifetime. Any reader searching for this kind of information would be better directed to the excellent Rivers and Lochs of Scotland or Trout Lochs of Scotland by the same author.
This book is at its best when Sandison is entertaining us with his own thoughts, insights and witticisms on the sport that so many anglers and fly fishers in particular will identify with.
Angling Lines won’t make you a better angler. Indeed Sandison’s angling style is firmly embedded in the “traditional” category. What it will do however is remind you of all the reasons why you go angling in the first place and cause you to reflect on the multitude of pleasures to be derived from the sport.
With a foreword by Jeremy Paxman, one is in company that’s difficult to argue with and I can heartily recommend this delightful book to all fly fishers, especially those of us who are lucky enough to reside in the Highlands and Islands with its abundance of wild trout fishing right on our door step.