A brand new angling magazine. Reviewed by Danny Adcock.
New angling magazines are few and far between. A quick glance at a newsagent shelf reveals numerous publications, but they are all either dedicated to the ‘baggin’ up’ brigade, or the ‘big-is-beautiful’ carp contingent. Fishing has never been about numbers to me so it was with anticipation I awaited issue one of Fallon’s Angler: the latest fishing magazine to hit the streets. What excited me was the magazine’s website blurb that promised a ‘narrative feel,’ and to be about the ‘quality of the writing, not the quality of the angler, or the quality of the fish.’
Some of the magazine founder’s friends questioned his sanity when he announced he was going to set up his own fishing magazine, but having worked in the publishing and designing of magazines since the late 1990s Garrett Fallon undoubtedly has the expertise and experience. And on opening the envelope containing Fallon’s Angler initial impressions were satisfying, particularly for a keen reader like myself; it has a nice feel about it if you know what I mean? It doesn’t have the glossy, over-produced feel of most angling magazines, but a comforting matt texture. When CDs first began to appear John Peel said to someone who criticised vinyl because of the surface noise ‘Listen, mate, life has surface noise,’ and I feel similarly towards glossy fishing magazines; fishing isn’t glossy, it’s textured and layered and fishing magazines should reflect that. So aesthetically Fallon’s Angler is pleasing. It’s a nice size too, sort of halfway between a book and a magazine, while being more magazine than book.
In Garrett’s introduction he talks of how writers ‘Should be offered the space to express themselves,’ and is ‘convinced a magazine that brings fine angling writing to an appreciative, paying audience will work.’ I hope so because Fallon’s Angler contains some lovely writing from an eclectic mix of writers, angling disciplines and locations. A masterstroke is getting that now iconic giant of angling writing Chris Yates on board, and though I suspect he would probably laugh off suggestions of being an angling icon he is really the founder of the current trend of nature-angling writing, and is as well known amongst carp anglers as he is amongst sea anglers and match anglers. Nobody else has had the longevity or generates such feelings of warmth amongst the angling community as Yatesy. There are other well known and published angling authors in the magazine, notably Theo Pike the author of Trout in Dirty Places, and Tom Fort, the former fishing correspondent for the Financial Times and author of the excellent Book of Eels amongst others. Tom Fort’s article is a eulogy to some of the rods and tackle he has possessed going back to before ‘England won the World Cup,’ and ‘when beer was two bob a pint.’ He’s never purposely disposed of a rod, and I suspect there are many other anglers out there whose garages, sheds and studies are forests of cane and carbon; my partner constantly reminds me that ours is. When pressed to reveal ‘Why fish?’ he has ‘no sensible answer, just as I cannot explain why I prefer Trollope to Dickens, Schubert to Mozart, real ale to lager, slow roasted lamb to burgers. It’s just part of me.’ This philosophy, I’m sure, resonates with many anglers for who there is more to fishing than Realtree camo bait buckets, and buzzer bars, and this philosophy is as good a reason as any to pick up a copy of Fallon’s Angler.
There are some sixteen articles carried in the first edition, and I don’t have the space to review each and every one. Suffice to say this is a menu to suit a varied angling palate. Nick Fallowfield-Cooper writes of how ‘To be unshackled by time and fish by the rhythms of nature,’ is his wont in an article in which he proves to be an angler after my own heart in that he loves variety in his fishing, whether it’s barbel, sewin, trout or carp. Other articles travel to South Africa for tuna, Torquay Pier for squid, the Atlas mountains of Morocco for trout and, intriguingly, that unlikely fishing destination the metropolis of Manhattan for bluegills.
The editor’s contribution to his own magazine is a fine tale of a maiden barbel from the Kennet. Barbel are the new carp I hear, but Garrett’s reassuringly falls to a lump of luncheon meat with a traditional centre pin soundtrack. If barbel are the new carp then what on earth is going to be the new barbel? And, as long as we can continue to fish for them, who cares you may ask? More importantly on those occasions when we can’t actually fish for them the next best thing is being able to read about fishing for them.
Fallon’s Angler finishes with what all magazines should finish with – the back pages. They contain snippets of this and that, a book review or two, a bit of tackle talk; a mish-mash, a cornucopia of angling bits and pieces. I always start reading a magazine at the back because if I’m not interested in the last page I’m probably not interested in the first page, or anything that lies in between the two. If I judge the last few pages would be worth working my way towards from the front, then I’ll give it a go, and Fallon’s Angler’s back pages fulfill my brief perfectly.
All in all Fallon’s Angler fills a niche that has been empty for far too long. I’m hopeful that it’s going to keep on producing this interesting, varied and fulfilling writing in the future.