'The North Country Fly - Yorkshire's Soft Hackle Tradition' by Robert L Smith
After a lifetime of study, research, blood, sweat and tears, Rob Smith's long-awaited first book was finally released at the BFFI on the 7th Feb. Truly exhaustive, Rob's formidable reasearch skills have left no stone unturned beneath the ancient waters of Yorkshire's soft hackle tradition.
The reviews have yet to hit the web and the angling journals (I seriously doubt that even the early birds have got through it yet!) but being involved with the photography, and having closely followed the progress of the book over several years, I can tell you now that it's a cracker. If you're in any way interested in the history and tradition of 'North Country' flies, then Rob's baby is the new definitive tome.
I was both honoured and flattered when Rob approached me back in 2010 to ask if I would consider photographing some flies and materials for his book. Being a Yorkshireman, Rob was careful to point out that remuneration would be 'frugal' (another old Yorkshire tradition) and that I wouldn't be retiring any time soon on the proceeds. I considered the offer carefully, for all of two seconds; in the end, flattery gets you everywhere. Joking apart, Rob was more than generous with his rewards, but I would have done it for nowt - who wouldn't have jumped at the chance to photograph these delicate, beautiful pieces of angling history, tied by a master? Lack of modesty is one Yorkshire tradition that Rob has opted out of, and he'd no doubt reject the tag 'master'. Let me tell you though, that even under the scrutiny of a macro lens, Rob's flies are immaculate. Funny things, spiders and wot-not; deceptively and painfully simple - there's nowhere to hide any shortcomings in one's technique. Every aspect of the fly is literally laid bare, and the most basic tying skills of thread laying, control, tension, hackling and proprtion have to be damn near perfect to pull off a spider worth its salt. Just photographing Rob's flies taught me much, not just about North Country patterns, but about tying in general.
Unfortunately, for various reasons - space for one thing - Rob couldn't include all the flies he would have liked in the book. Fortunately, I have the space on my website, so check back very soon for more images of Rob's superb renditions of Yorkshire's soft hackle tradition.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rob for the opportunity to be involved with what I'm sure is already a classic. 'Twas an honour, a thrill, an education, and much, much fun.