A Passion for Pike
It's nice sometimes to bump into a different book, and Dutch Ad Swier's pike book is different.
Pike books are not common, and books from the Netherlands are not common, but what makes this book really stand out is the author's very personal approach to the whole affair: the pike, the gear and the flies, the writing, the illustrations and the approach to fishing altogether.
The first word that comes to mind is pragmatic.
And I like pragmatic!
There is something convincing about a book, where the author expresses some obviously personal and experience based advice, some of it unorthodox, but all of it very sensible. This book does not appear speculative or "constructed", but seems to be an outlet for knowledge from a very long career of pike fishing combined with a true joy for the game - a passion.
The book is in many ways very different from other how-to books. You find the sections you would expect: something about the fish, something on the flies, the gear, the fishing and some of the places you can go to to fish. Fishing from the bank is covered as well as wading, float tubing and fishing from boat, and there is plenty advice on gearing up and casting. But as you plunge into the book and start reading, you realize that it is different after all. The writing style is easy flowing and the text entertaining even funny in places. There are lots of references to persons - well known and unknown - lots of quotes as well as passages, which are written by others.
The flow in the text makes it read like a short story at times, which is really nice in a book as this. It reminds me slightly of a personal diary in places, and is in essence a blog in a book. I personally like the abrupt and staccato style, where the author interrupts himself and digresses, and has to remind himself - in the text - to return to the subject. Swier's writing style is as creative as you'd expect from a colorful artist
Of course his art has also found its way into the book. Swier's beautiful drawings and paintings should be well known to visitors on this site, and many of the pieces shown in Ad's appearance in our Fishy Art series are indeed found in this book, where they help enhance the impression of a book with a difference.
I have one small issue with the book and that has nothing to do with the content, but lies in the form. The typography and layout is a bit messy if you ask me. There's a lot of shifts between italics and regular font, colored text as well as text on colored background and on faded pictures, chapter headings as well as large drop caps for the same chapter and a few other things, which bother my eyes. I wish the book had been as stylish as Swier's art. It will not be an issue for everyone, I know and don't let it deter you, but it bothers me.
I have pike fished quite a bit myself, but I'm nowhere near Ad's level of experience. As an angler with a smaller passion, but still a passion, for pike, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Beginners might find a bit too fluttering and unfocused at first glance, but heed my advice, beginner: buy it and read it and stay with it! A lot of corners can be cut and a lot learned from this book. Ad Swier's approach is a very healthy and productive one.
If you are a pike aficionado, on the other hand, you probably already have this book, which came out in 2006.
If you're into pike or muskie fishing and you don't have it, go out and get it now!