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The Compleat Angler: Or, the Contemplative Man's Recreation

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  431 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
An immediate success when if was first published in 1653, Walton's classic celebrtion of the joys of fishing continues to captivate anglers and nature lovers with its timeless advice and instruction.  Originally cast in the form of a dialogue between an experienced angler named Piscator and his pupil Viator, the book details methods for catching, eating, and savoring all v ...more
ebook, 244 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Modern Library (first published 1676)
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Evan
The Compleat Angler is a book that has been continuously in print for more than 350 years. Indeed, about five years ago I saw a nearly 300-year-old copy of it in the glass case at Half Price Books being sold for a steep figure. It's now freely and easily obtainable online, via Project Gutenberg and in other PDF editions as well as in audiobook form via Libravox.

So what could possibly be interesting about a four-centuries-old fishing book?
A lot, as it turns out.

Izaak Walton's objective was not on
...more
Al
Mar 18, 2012 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
A pretty good read, in a dialogue format, between Piscator, Venator, and Auceps, about fishing in particular, and life in general; as meandering as a quiet brook. While it is primarily about fishing, it also celebrates the English countryside and a quiet, peaceful pasttime that is also conducive to communing with God. The characteristics of different fish are examined in succesive chapters, although my favorite section was Part II which covers trout and fly-fishing. Not a complicated book, and o ...more
Alex
Mar 13, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, which I stumbled across via a reference made in Robert W. Chambers' novel "Cardigan" by the titular character. Walton's commentary throughout is quite entertaining, and the "fishing advice" in the book, while ostensibly the point of it, is almost incidental in my mind -- the collected verses, humor, and pleasant descriptions of pastoral English countryside were my main enjoyments. A very pleasant read.
Maurice Halton
Feb 24, 2013 Maurice Halton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book for anglers; it’s a book for Englishmen. It should be subtitled 'how an English gentleman behaves - in metaphor’. A book about fishing? Come on! Whoever gave this classic less than five stars needs something.
James Violand
Jul 13, 2014 James Violand rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
An interesting read. A justification for doing nothing, although filled with descriptions of fishes and ways to catch them.
Thomas
Apr 06, 2016 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very chill book, the best bits are all the neat little digression about things like the philosophy of angling, or pre science natural history stuff.
Bobby Claude
This definitely gives an in depth look at the world of fishing. It could have done with less poetry.
Scott Joseph
Jan 08, 2017 Scott Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third time that I've read "The Compleat Angler" and I learn something new each time.
Jim Krotzman
Oct 02, 2016 Jim Krotzman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a bit boring and written in the language of the eighteenth century. It mostly catalogued fish, their environments, baits, and methods of catching them. The main point I got from the book was that fishing was a way to know mindfulness. Fishing is a good pastime because one is quiet.
David
Jan 04, 2017 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being such a famous book, I felt bad giving it a 2/5 initially so I’ve revised this to 3/5 given that one probably needs to read this in context….it would be a much better read on the banks of a river than on a daily commute!
Bob G
Apr 28, 2016 Bob G rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top100
A practical guide to fishing, describing the fish, how to fish, how to prepare fish, how to tie flies, which baits work best, how to build a fish pond, … (Quite a bit of verse and moralizing also thrown in!)
The practical part was wrapped in a story of several men who chanced to meet. Most of the book involves the "master" teaching the art to the "scholar". The value of the book is historical (the description of the art). The book, though, is poorly written. Time seems to compress. Having just c
...more
Scott
Aug 16, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fishing
This book has been a must read for anglers since the 1650's. For the non-angler, I'd only give this 2 or 3 stars. You'd find it dry and boring in most ways. For the avid angler, it is definitely a 5 star book and should be part of your personal library. It is more a book on how to live life as a contemplative man and less a how too book on fishing. I like the addition by Charles Cotton (Sir Isaac's son) at the end of the book as it is more specifically geared towards the Trout fisherman. I also ...more
Albert
I grew up with fishing trips (river, lake, sea—by boat, coast, and bank), and while I've enjoyed a good day out on the water, I have zero angling ambitions. So why did I read this book? I don't even remember how I came to know of it, but I recall seeking it out in dozens of bookshops before triumphantly finding it one day at the Strand. It has a Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion kind of feel to it. Take of that what you will.
Mike
Mar 24, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written hundreds of years ago, this is still the standard for all those who love the art of fly-fishing. This is not just a book about fishing, but about the love of the stream and its finned denizens. This is a philosophy book, and in a real sense, one of the first marriage advice books. Try it on, and once you wade through the Elizabethan English, you will find an amazing depth of insight into humanity.
Christopher
Aug 21, 2012 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walton's treatise on fishing has been in print since the first edition in 1653, and with good reason. He captured the idyllic lifestyle of the gentleman angler in the English countryside, painting a picture that all stream fisherman have in the back of their minds. Charles Cotton's additions on fly fishing only add to Walton's masterpiece. I classic, not only of fishing literature, but of English literature.
Linda Orvis
Mar 16, 2011 Linda Orvis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To my knowledge, this is the first book about fishing. Since I'm an Orvis, and my husband and all our sons and only daughter fish, I felt an obligation to read this classic. I enjoyed every minute of it. Go figure. It made me want to see every kind of trout and tramp through the English countryside--well, I've always wanted to do that regardless. What made the experience of reading this even more enjoyable is that I had a very old version that has long been out of print.
D'face
Aug 29, 2012 D'face rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


This is a gentle read and most enjoyable (apart from the slaughter of a family of otters). Different types of fish and how to catch them are addressed, but the book is really about the relaxed and reflective lifestyle of the English gentleman. As they wander the countryside a teacher and student discuss life and fishing and then retire at the end of the day to a pub for food, drink and song. Sounds pretty good to me!
Kelly
Jan 25, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found it an easy read. Great for people who are into fishing, but unfortunately I'm not so much. Thought reading about would but it didn't I would have given the book it did 5 stars so it's only that it lost it's star but I would recommend it to that friend that can't wait to sit and catch they're dinner or the beginner fisher.
David Ward
The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative Man's Recreation by Izaak Walton (Folio Press 1966) (799.1) is an ancient book on the art of angling. It is said to have been in print continuously for 350 years. The information contained is just as applicable today as it would have been in 1670. My rating: 7/10, finished 3/12/14.
Mike
Oct 19, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally written in 1653. . . A conversation on fishing and life between an experienced fisherman and teacher with his student. Anyone who enjoys the beauty of fishing, particularly fly fishing must read this. A philosophical adventure with a fly rod.
Cristina Montes
It's funny; I never expected that I will be able to remember all the information in this book but I enjoyed reading it anyway. Perhaps it was because reading this book was a refreshing foray into a simpler time and place, and the simple joys of angling.
Fredrick Danysh
Aug 06, 2012 Fredrick Danysh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-pubs
Written about a century ago, The Compleat Angler discusses the nature of man and the environment through conversations between various people from different backgrounds. The central chacter is an angler. Look considered a classic among the outdoors community.
Gabriella Hoffman
Took me a while to read...but not because of the content, which was superb. "The Compleat Angler" is the Bible of fishing. A must-read for all anglers, young and old alike. I appreciated Walton's tips and the conversations with Pescator's two friends, the Hunter and Falconer.
James
Oct 18, 2014 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't thinking this would be so darn practical. Hoping for something more like the metaphysical angler. Though there is actually what looks like a decent recipe for trout on one of the pages that may be worth a try one day.
Jackie
Jun 20, 2013 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has all kinds of genres: it has music, rhymes, poetry, instructions, geography, meteorology, recipes, frequent biblical sermons, and naturally all kinds of tips on making lures for fresh water fishing. The language is not dated, and the reader gets the title of: "honest scholar!"
Andy
A while back, I read about 25 pages of Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler. It can be tedious at times because of the Old English. I think, at some point in the near future, I am ready to revisit Walton and continue the conversation.
Bev
Jun 24, 2012 Bev rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not just a treatise on fly fishing, but a joyful, lyrical celebration of life. Truly a pleasure to read or to listen to being read.

Andrew
Jan 11, 2015 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
interesting but not gripping. lots of old wording to translate. Some educational thoughts about taking fish that are not usually eaten these days.
Siddhartha
I'd rate it 3.5 if i could on Goodreads....Its a slow paced read but good to pass your time.
You would enjoy it if you are an angling enthusiast!
Ian
Aug 30, 2016 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is about so much more than fishing. Classical natural philosophy, Christian wisdom, the love of poetry, virtue, and leisure --- it is a placid book written in troubled times.
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  • Another Lousy Day in Paradise
  • The Longest Silence: A Life In Fishing
  • Hemingway on Fishing
  • Brief Lives
  • Volpone and Other Plays
  • Soledades
  • The Major Works
  • The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast
  • The Malcontent
  • The History Of Sir Charles Grandison Bart
  • Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800
  • The Shorter Poems
  • Hymns and Fragments
  • The Old Arcadia
  • A Journey to the Western Islands of  Scotland and The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides
  • The Major Works
  • A Field Guide to Western Birds: A Completely New Guide to Field Marks of All Species Found in North America West of the 100th Meridian and North of Mexico
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Izaak Walton (c. 1594[1] – 15 December 1683) was an English writer. Best known as the author of The Compleat Angler, he also wrote a number of short biographies that have been collected under the title of Walton's Lives.

Walton was born at Stafford c. 1594; the traditional '9 August 1593' date is based on a misinterpretation of his will, which he began on 9 August 1683.[1] The register of his bapti
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“As no man is born an artist, so no man is born an angler.” 11 likes
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