About us

Fishing Book Reviews is run by Andrew Herd and Jon Ward-Allen. Jon is the proprietor of the Medlar Press, Britain's largest angling publisher and Andrew is well-known as a fisherman and angling historian, his work including the standard reference work on the history of fly fishing and Angling Giants, a collection of short biographies of famous fishermen, which you can read more about by clicking here.

Andrew HerdThis site came about because we couldn't help becoming aware that there are limited places where readers can find reviews of books about fishing. There are plenty of magazines, but most of them cater for niche markets and have limited space for reviews, with the result that many books pass without comment and some really good ones can go unnoticed because of it. There are several classics out there that should have achieved far better sales than they did, but have gone virtually unnoticed simply because no-one has found the time to read them or the space to write a couple of hundred words about them.

The end result is that the reviews that do get published are scattered around all over the place and sometimes end up being published in the sort of titles that the majority of fishermen don't generally read. This has happened to me (Andrew) - I have had terrific reviews of books in magazines like The Field and Country Life and all kinds of other titles which aren't really aimed at fishermen. It is all too easy for anglers to miss a really good book. The other problem of which I am all too well aware is that it is very hard for US publishers to create awareness of their products in the Europe and vice versa - with so many angling publishers becoming increasingly reliant on direct sales, this is becoming a pressing problem.

Once upon a time, things were different and the national newspapers used to carry reviews in their fishing columns. That simply doesn't happen now and book reviews in the nationals are rarer than rocking horse droppings, which speaks volumes about the quality of the writers concerned, who for many years have given the strong impression that they would far rather discuss themselves than stoop to the level of reviewing someone else's work. To be fair, the national columns are being increasingly sidelined nowadays and have depressingly low readerships, so I guess we can excuse them for resorting to survival tactics.

Jon Ward-AllenEven when reviews do get published, there is the problem of getting hold of them after the event. The majority of readers do not buy books the minute they hear about them these days and they are much more likely to remember them months later - at the end of the season, or when hints are dropped about what kind of birthday present they would like, or around Christmas time. At that point, telling your spouse that you kind of recall that a book on roach got published a couple of years ago and it was quite thick and the cover was greenish doesn't quite cut the mustard (the answer, by the way, is The Complete Book of the Roach, by Mark Everard.) Substitute your favourite species and publisher here and, well...

..you get to where Fishing Book Reviews comes in. This site begins with the existing collection of reviews from Waterlog, but the intention is to widen its scope considerably and I am open to invitations to review books from all comers, as long as they are in English. I don't mind where in the world the books are printed, I do not mind who publishes them and I don't care what the subject matter is, just as long as it is connected with fishing. I do, however, reserve the right not to write a review and books that are sent to me will not be returned, those are the only strings attached to the deal. For what it is worth, I have been reviewing for Waterlog for a dozen years now and in all of that time I have only rejected a handful of titles, generally on quality grounds, the majority of the works concerned being self-published.

The great thing about a site like this is that unlike a magazine, space isn't a problem, so the reviews won't have to be written to specific length to fit in a magazine layout and we can also include images if publishers wish. Which leads me on to one final point, which is that this site is sponsored by the Medlar Press, which pays for its upkeep and therefore gets a lot of publicity. However, Fishing Book Reviews is absolutely not a closed shop; the idea is to make everybody's day by publicising books to the widest possible audience, so that we all gain.

If you are a publisher and would like to advertise on this site, then email Jon (he's the one with the beard) and discuss rates with him.

If you would like a book reviewed, email me, Andrew. I am the one without the beard.

Andrew Herd
Jon Ward-Allen