"Fly Fishing by J.R. Hartley" is a collection of fishing-themed anecdotes and stories by Michael Russell, cheekily using the pseudonym of the much-loved character J.R. Hartley from the "Yellow Pages" advert of the 1980's.
Whilst the title sounds like a textbook or guide to fly fishing at first, it is actually a very nice collection of memories from Russell's / Hartley's youth in 1930's Yorkshire, and how what began as a schoolboy's hobby gradually evolved into a memorable pasttime.
The stories within this book are well-written and give so much detail without writing paragraph after paragraph of description. I actually found the stories very warm-hearted, and gave me a glimpse of life that I had never seen nor stopped to think about. Having grown up practising sea-fishing with my Dad in Ilfracombe, my idea of inland fishing was of men in tweed suits carrying wicker baskets and bamboo rods. Not so, it seems, for Russell's / Hartley's depiction of fly-fishing in 1930's Yorkshire gives a unique insight into the fishing practices and challenges of the era, as well as an idyllic picture of rural life in the years before and during World War II.
This is a wonderful gem of a book, and whilst some collect it purely for the "Yellow Pages" link, I encourage everyone to read it, because this is a book few other angling memoirs will be able to match.