Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday Review: Reels & Making Them by John Betts

Thursday Review: Reels & Making Them by John Betts

I'm WAY behind on book reviews and notices -- if you check out The Whitefish Press web site you'll find about 15 new books in the past two months -- but there is one book I wanted to bring to everyone's attention and got a friendly reminder this afternoon about it.

The book is Reels and Making Them by the legendary John Betts, assisted ably by modern reelmaking wizard Michael Hackney. Michael and I have partnered on a new imprint known as the Reel Lines Press, which will deal with multiple titles relating to reel manufacture and building, as well as some other great surprise books.

Back to John Betts. This is truly one of the most original and brilliant thinkers of the past 100 years of fly fishing--one of a handful of men worthy of sitting at the table with Gordon, Hewitt, Norris and the small pantheon of fishing legends.

The author of so many important works, to me this is the quintessential Betts book--more reflective of his unique approach to things than even his awesome Making Strip-Built Fly Rods From Various Woods on a Lathe book. It's equal parts commentary, history, and instruction -- and even though the instruction can be complex, like all the things John does it is explained in such a way that even I can understand it, and I make no claim to being anything other than a dilettante in such matters.

What makes this book unique, besides it hand-drawn individual book plate signed and numbered by John, is that it reproduces his handwriting perfectly. Yes. You read that correctly--John WROTE out this book in his classic script (more readable than most print fonts) over the course of many years, and Michael Hackney labored hard to reproduce it perfectly.

What results is a truly unique book the likes of which you simply will never see again. Add to the fact it is limited to just a hundred signed and numbered copies (best bet is less than 15-20 remain) and it is a book you will never, ever regret adding to your library.

I had the enormous honor of talking with John Betts right before Christmas, and I can tell you one thing. I've been fortunate enough to converse with many leading lights in a number of fields, both in academics, politics, fishing and hunting, and other select fields. I can count on one hand the number of people who've impressed me more with their depth of knowledge, understanding, and genuine humility as John Betts.

He is an American treasure and this book will go down as one of his lasting contributions to this thing we all love.

-- Dr. Todd

No comments: