A new fishing magazine, a serious one devoted to serious writing, is a rare event and worth celebrating. There was keen interest when Fallon’s Angler was first announced, rather as with Waterlog back in 1996, which for a brief while you could actually find in some newsagents. Waterlog closed last year with its 100th issue, probably because there is only room for one magazine of this kind in the ill-read angling world. Many said that Waterlog had gone off since it changed format. In my view there was not a lot of difference, although it may have got worse with time; true or not, it always suffered from too much plodding prose written by self-indulgent and unskilful authors. No, I think the real reason people stopped buying had more to do with the disappearance of Chris Yates from its pages. Too many anglers are too limited in their reading matter: if it’s not Yates or BB, forget it.
How is Fallon’s Angler faring after three years in print? After a good start it seems to have subsided. One must conclude that good writers are in short supply in the fishing world. Unless, that is, the editorial team prefer that sort of writing. I haven’t seen every issue but I’ve read enough to be disappointed with much of the content. Issue 13 has some good stuff, however. In page order I enjoyed the punting article, Petley’s biography of Douglas Pavel, the piece on sea trout in Scotland and the one about Cumbria; I also liked the article on match fishing (a lovely snowy photograph too). So that’s five altogether, not bad going really. Of the others, some are at least readable, others plain hard work. I normally like the editor’s contributions but found the piece on smoothhound fishing just a little over-romanticised (though probably all Fallon’s readers are romantics).
Of the other regulars Dexter Petley is about the best. He deserves the distinction of writer, even though his subject matter is limited — rural decay in France with big carp is his regular fare. Chris Yates has always demonstrated good prose rhythm but he also has a limited range, mainly the subject of crucian carp these days, dressed with cane and fruitcake. But he sells magazines, I presume. Fishing with the General has almost exhausted its humorous vein; John Andrews and Kevin Parr I find tough going. Kevin Parr’s diary pieces appear at intervals on the Fallon’s website. They’re free to read of course, but even so the last one, Frost, appears to have been knocked together at the last minute. The writing contains some howlers — “barely of altered” is an elementary error (have, not of), and “a Scirroco”, fresh from the Sahara or otherwise, is a motor car. He meant sirocco. Not the best advertisement for the magazine.
There is too much of this clumsy writing in all magazines. The clichés, the clunky prose, the lack of narrative movement discourages a regular subscription to any magazine. Yet I feel Fallon’s Angler could be much better, whereas I don’t think that’s true with the standard monthlies. There must be some other writers out there worthy of the title, including a few of those who do appear occasionally in the magazine; more of their work would give us a better read. With these reservations I still like Fallon’s Angler and want it to succeed. But I’d like to see it improve the consistency of its content.