by Eric Stroup, published by The Whitefish Press
$19.95, www. whitefishpress.com
The title, River Pimp, a journey through life in the fly fishing industry, drew me like a magnet. The author, Eric Stroup, was so obsessed by fly fishing that he made it his livelihood, first as a fly tyer, then as a guide and finally as a tackle shop owner, while still practising both of his other skills.
In this, he and I were as one, because for more than 50 years, I had known all too well the same obsession, first as a casting teacher and later in the manufacture and wholesaling of fishing tackle.
I know all the emotions! Never waking without fishing flooding into my mind; never an hour of any day passed without consciously thinking about fish and fishing. I was not obsessed by fly-tying (wish I had been) but all the other emotions are very familiar.
Commercially tying flies for wholesale distribution was a tough furrow to plough. To guide for 180 consecutive days without a break, as he does, is a task almost beyond my comprehension – and then to have his own tackle shop. He is clearly indefatigable.
His strong thoughts about the importance of local tackle dealers is easily understandable. I fear that the decline in fly fishing, from which we are currently suffering, is directly for this reason. Fishing is a pursuit that requires instruction, especially initially.
If this is done properly, the individual grows in the sport rather than becoming frustrated. He then passes on that passion to someone else, and the sport grows. We have all seen the closing of specialist high street shops and I fear the loss of the corner tackle shops is following the same path.
Stroup also has strong views on the importance of catching wild fish as opposed to pellet-fed stockies. In the British Isles, the Wild Trout Trust has bought this awareness home to many, while in the US, Trout Unlimited preaches the same gospel.
One can now see how an increasing number of UK fishers are following the author’s sentiments, being happier about catching an 8in wild fish rather than a much larger stockie.
This is a very interesting read from a writer whose unbounded energy and enthusiasm comes across with each chapter. Barrie Welham