More biographies

More biographies

Viking Lars | Saturday, 17 August 2019

Before summer I wrote about the Skues-biography by Dr. Tony Hayter, which I thought was new (ut is from 2013, so in fact a few years old). The book is nothing short of exvcellent on all points, and much to my surprise, I found out that the same author had also written a Halford-biography, in 2002. I don't know how these books managed to slip past me. I don't read copious amounts of flyfishing literature, but I am quite fond of most of the historical stuff - mainly because it's enlightening to get a few glimpses of how far we've come in the last 125 years (or how not-far).

I really liked the Skues-biography, so naturally I had to have - and read - the Halford-biography as well. Both books benefit greatly from the fact that both men were prolific writers, of course - and that much of their personal correspondance has been preserved for posterity.

Halford was of course the Grand Nestor of the South English chalkstreams, and seems also to have been a very well respected, and revered, member of the Flyfisher's Club in London, where all the big names of the day met.

That of course goes for Halford and Skues as well, and one thing that surprised me some when reading these biographies was that Skues was actually somewhat of a Halford-disciple for many, many years, before he began to develop his nymph-fishing. Halford was born in 1844 - Skues in 1858. Halford died in 1914, Skues lived to a very old age and died in 1949. Skues came later into fishing than Halford, but the interesting part about their deaths is that the "Great Debate" between the two, that most flyfishers know, actually never happened.

That is to say, it did, but there was never a real confrontation since Skues 1) Didn't fully develop his hymphs and fishing techniques until after Halford's death, and 2) the real debate didn't begin until 1936, when Halford had been dead for 22 years. The debate and the confrontation was real enough, but was between Skues and Halford-disciples, and not Halford himself, which many don't know. Skues was actually quite an admirer of Halford.

This is just one revelation - there are plenty more, and if you need some entertainment in the coming autumn months, both these books come with my sincerest recommendations. They are very well written and very well disposed. They are quite cheap - I got mine here.

Have a great weekend!