AllOutdoor Book Review – The Sport Fishing Tradition


The Lore of Sportfishing is a book close to my heart. I remember finding a copy of the book for the first time as a child in the library of my uncle’s office. The illustrations immediately caught my attention. I spent hours flipping through this book, looking at all the colorful pictures of fish I had never seen before. The text didn’t mean much to me yet. I was barely beyond using sweet corn kernels at the lake for bluegill at that age. But the older I got, the more I realized how useful the information in the book was. Although not a one stop guide to catching fish, it was a good backbone of information on fish, sport fishing techniques and gear. Or, at the very least, something interesting to flip through and read when it was cold and wet.

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Opening artwork and title
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Fully illustrated page on the aquatic environment

Contents of the book

This book was originally published in 1976 with many different reprints over the years. So the information is a bit dated, but most of the highlights are still relevant today. The book begins with the beginnings of the sport fisherman and the history of sport fishing to the present day. Then move on to the different habitats of fish, the factors of those habitats, and the effects of those factors on fish. After which is the largest section of the book.

There are 200 pages devoted solely to the fish themselves. With 20 of these pages are devoted to covering fish anatomy and physiology. These pages are a comprehensive guide to fish biology; how they breathe, swim, reproduce, eat and survive. Then the book moves on to the hundreds of species of fish. Each species has its common and scientific name on its entry. Then, below, a description of all its identifying characteristics along with its distribution and other general information. Each species entry has a number that coincides with an illustration of the same number.

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Color illustrations of char species
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Color illustrations of snappers

Once past the fish catalog and illustrations. There are instruction sections on how to fish various conditions and methods. This includes both freshwater and saltwater techniques and methods. Pages on how to read lakes and rivers to locate fish. Techniques for using lures, rigging live bait and what you can catch with them. There are over 30 different types of fishing covered here. Whether it’s fishing a trout stream, casting poppers for pond bass, or fishing offshore reef fish.

Book review: The tradition of sport fishing

In addition to sport fishing methods, tackle is also covered. Pages on the different types of reels, rods and terminal equipment. Sections that cover different types of boats used for fishing as well as how to use the boats. There is a particularly important section on how to do different fly casting techniques. These pages are fully illustrated with step-by-step instructions on the molding technique. Additionally, troubleshooting is available on these pages to help you resolve particular issues that may be encountered.

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Illustrated page on thermocline fishing, using live bait and spoon fishing.
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Illustrated pages with instructions for fly casting techniques

The book also covers fishing-adjacent topics. Like tying flies and different methods of taxidermy. Many different flies are covered in the book, all with instructions as well as illustrations so you know what your fly should look like at this stage. The taxidermy sections cover the origins of preserving your catch and also contain step-by-step instructions. like different types of skin mounts and even Gyotaku fish prints. With the Gyotaku method, you do not preserve the skin of the fish but take an impression of the fish using either traditional Japanese black ink or paint.

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Step-by-step instructions for tying a fly with illustrations.
Sport fishing history
Instructions for Gyotaku – Japanese prints of fish

Final Thoughts

Although I may be personally biased by my nostalgia and experience with this book. I highly recommend anyone who likes sport fishing or a high quality book to go and buy a copy. These books are very well made, with good quality paper and well bound. Even without the dust cover, the hard cover underneath is a lovely blue linen fabric with a silver foil gyotaku fish that is embossed into the cover.

For their age and quality, these books are still available at affordable prices easily online. This copy, in excellent condition, cost the full $12 shipped to my door. Although the material inside is old, the information is still very usable and viable to use. Get this book for your collection or as a gift to someone else who loves fishing. This is either a really nice coffee table book or just adding it to your library as reference material. For the price you can find these books, you really can’t go wrong buying a copy.


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