Top 10 fishing books

Did you get some book tokens for Christmas, or are you looking for a gift for a fishing obsessed loved one? Or perhaps you want a good read for the long dark evenings? You’ve come to the right place.

Here are some of our favourite fishing reads – some you are still in print, others you’ll need to buy second hand, but they’re all great reads.

1. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

The old man and the sea

About an old man, a young boy & a big fish
Source: Rob Hammink

The classic fable by Ernest Hemingway is the story of an old man, a young boy and a big fish. It was the story for which the author won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Man against nature – the beauty and sadness of the hunt – the inevitability and honour of defeat. Big themes explored in Hemingway’s sparse style, Santiago, the old man of the sea battles the Marlin. Read it.

2. A river runs through it – Norman Maclean

a river runs through it

You might have seen the film, but have you read the book?
Source: Book Fever

Well known as a movie starring Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer and fly fishing rods, the book is published both as a novella and as a collection of three semi autobiographical tales. Beautifully written, the story is set in the backwoods of Montana and tells of the divergent fortunes of fly fishing brothers, Norman and Paul. Told from the point of view of Norman, the tale mainly recounts the events of the summer of 1937 as the brothers embark on one last fishing trip together.

3. The River Why – David James Duncan

The River Why

A sensitive, witty journey of self discovery
Source: Good Reads

When 20 year old Gus Orviston rebels against his fishing obsessed parents, he strikes out alone into the wilderness to do nothing but eat, fish and sleep. But before long, Gus becomes uncomfortably aware of the environmental degradation of the river brought about by man. So begins a journey of self discovery that’s both funny and sensitive. Unforgettable characters and a beautiful fishergirl; a book that lingers in the imagination.

4. The Compleat Angler – Izaac Walton

the compleat angler

Feeling pensive? Read this.
Source: HD&G

Originally published in 1653, this work by Izaac Walton is an hommage to angling that will appeal to fishing fanatics and lay people alike. A mixture of verse and prose, the book is a timeless evocation of the beauty of nature and man’s enjoyment of it through the noble art of fishing. For those in contemplative mood, the Compleat Angler is a must.

5. Fish, fishing and the meaning of life – Jeremy Paxman

fish fishing and the meaning of life

Renowned journalist Paxman introduces his favourite writings
Source: Amazon

Described by Keith Elliot of the Independent on Sunday as, “probably the definitive anthology of angling writing”, this book is a great choice. When Paxman isn’t grilling slippery politicians, he’s never happier than when he’s out fishing. And his love of the riverbank comes through in the razor sharp wit and humour with which he introduces his favourite writings. Some you’ll recognise, others you won’t. A journalist well worth his salt, Paxman presents some gems here.

6. A summer on the Test – John Waller Hills

A summer on the Test

Transport yourself back to 1921 chalk stream fishing
Source: Amazon

Quite possibly the greatest book about chalk stream fishing ever written, John Walter Hill’s 1921 work evokes the timeless beauty of the English countryside. A perfect fireside read for long winter nights, let the author transport you to a bygone era – days of cane and willow – that will have you dreaming of summers past and of course the coming spring.

7. Trout Bum – John Gierach

trout bum

For this author, fishing is a way of life.
Source: Good Reads

For some, fishing is a weekend escape, to others it’s a way of life. Here, renowned American angling writer, John Gierach shares tales of his trout fishing wanderings. His laid-back style and the simplicity of his narrative produces prose that seeps into you like water on parched ground. Definitely worth a read.

8. Fishing’s Strangest Days – Tom Quinn

fishings strangest days

Tales that encompass the scary to the downright silly
Source: Angle Books

From the macabre to the ridiculous, Tom Quinn’s selection of bizarre fishing tales contains some of the strangest true angling stories ever told. There’s bait made from the flesh of hanged criminals, and two Americans who persuaded the police to help them resolve a dispute over whether or not it was possible to cast a fly from the roof of the Savoy hotel into the Thames. An entertaining book into which to dip.

9. 101 Golden Rules of Fishing  – Rob Beattie

101 golden rules of fishing

Pick up some pro tips
Source: Amazon

These Golden Rules are rather more like suggestions but in case there’s any doubt, the author in his introduction says, “I understand that people want to catch fish, but for me that’s only one reason for going fishing – and not necessarily the most important.” An angler with decades of experience, Rob Beattie offers a delightful mix of practical tips and riverbank philosophy.

10. Fly fishing by JR Hartley – Michael Russell

Fly fishing by JR Hartley

Childhood recollections from a boy in love with fly fishing
Source: Clash City

Anyone old enough to remember the TV advert for the Yellow Pages will know JR Hartley was a fictional character looking for a copy of his own book, Fly Fishing by JR Hartley. But Michael Russell’s work is more than a gimmick designed to cash in on a name made famous by television. A collection of warm hearted recollections from the author’s boyhood spent in Yorkshire during the 1930s, the anecdotes are about the boy growing up and a growing love of fly fishing.