Thursday Review: Jeff Della Mura's Hooked on Floats
I've been interested in floats (or bobbers as Americans call them) for many years. Although I mainly fly fish, and have for a number of years, I grew up bait fishing, and even as a youth my father had a fairly broad selection of bobbers, ranging from old cork egg-shaped Ideal bobbers from the 1920s all the way up to the mechanical plastic monstrosities of the 1950s and 1960s. One thing's for sure; for something designed to simply hold a bait at a certain depth, it's amazing the diversity of design that float creators have utilized over the years.
All of this makes Jeff Della Mura's new book Hooked on Floats such a welcome publication. It is an astoundingly interesting and fun book that fills a badly needed gap on the tackle historian's shelf.
The book details a great amount of history on the background to the float, largely (but not exclusively) from a British perspective. It begins with a detailed look at a number of important float collectors and their collections. Ranging from Classic Angling editor Keith Elliott to noted ORCA members J.K. Garrett and Skip Brooks, this rather unique (and cool) idea eases the reader into not just the how's of collecting bobbers, but the why's as well, from multiple perspectives. It's a really nifty way to introduce the subject. This section is followed by a collector's care section detailing everything from cleaning to displaying floats.
Della Mura then begins to dig in to the subject matter. Covering early British floats from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, from cork to wood to quill, all of the classic styles are covered. This large section is followed by a chapter on the use of plastics in bobber design, as well as patented bobbers and even folk art floats. The book concludes with mysteries, UNIDs, and the future of the float.
I could likely spend 10,000 words detailing what I like about this book, but let me boil it down to just those things that matter.
First, the book is really well-written, and just as importantly, is well edited too. It reads very nicely with an engaging and interesting style. It also has little vignettes on fishing history (a collage of gut traces, for example, which was right up my alley).
Second, the book is just lovely to look at. The publisher (Timbo Books in Great Britain) has done such a superb job laying out the book that it is one of the finest tackle books from an aesthetic point of view I've seen in the past decade. It's just lovely, from start to finish.
Third, it covers so much information that heretofore has not been covered that I learned something new on just about every page. It's been a really, really, REALLY long time since I've been able to say this.
I do like to be balanced in my appraisal of any book, and so I will say that the majority of the book is dedicated (as you would imagine) to British floats, and that this book must, on first look, appeal largely to the Old World reading audience. But the more I think about it, the more I think anyone approaching Hooked on Floats from this direction would be making a mistake. Just because most Americans know little of British fishing history doesn't mean they shouldn't know more. And there is a tremendous amount of American float history covered (as well as Canadian, Australian, German, Japanese, etc.).
Jeff Della Mura has created one of the truly fine books on fishing and tackle history, and anyone with even a passing interest in tackle collecting and fishing history should own a copy.
The book is 7" x 10" and 424 pages of full color. It is available in two editions; a Superior First Edition limited to 60 copies (hardcover bound in leather) and running £210 and a standard hardcover first edition, limited to 340 copies, at £50. Both prices do not include shipping from Great Britain.
To order a copy, and learn more, Click Here.
-- Dr. Todd