A Review of “Rod Rage”

Rod Rage; The Ultimate Guide to Angling Ethics
Edited by Rhea Topping
The Lyons Press; 2004; 292 pp; Hardcover
Suggested Retail $22.95
Reviewed by John Colburn

Much of the present day writings are simply repetitions of the accumulated experiences and thoughts of our forebears, especially writings about flyfishing. Today’s writers often restate the knowledge they acquired through reading the older books and articles, never crediting the earlier authors.
When one comes across a book that actually quotes the writings of the earlier authors it is to be treasured. Rhea Topping’s Rod Rage: The Ultimate Guide to Angling Ethics, is such a one. She had the honesty to quote rather than paraphrase her predecessors’ works. Ms Topping has searched the literature of fly fishing from the 15th Century’s Dame Juliana Berners to the 21st Century’s Federation of Fly Fishers’ Chairman of the Board Gary Grant to find the best thinking about fly fishing ethics and etiquette.  She has quoted often lengthy passages and complete articles from writings of more than sixty authors, many of the names well known in fly fishing circles.
In compiling Rod Rage, Ms.Topping has not just accumulated other writers’ work. She has written short insightful introductions to each author and closes the book with a summation of much of the thinking of the quoted authors. 
The final chapter “Some Dos, Don’ts, and Solutions” cover such problem areas as “Crowding: The Biggest Problem”, “Respect for Other Anglers”, “Some Options for Fishing in Crowds or With Friends”, “On Rights-of-Way”, “On the Environment”, “On the Law”, “On Boats”, “The Client’s Responsibility to the Guide”, and “The Guide’s Responsibility to the Client”. 
The book is illustrated with black and white photos and cartoons of some of the good and bad ethical situations as well as photos of many of the quoted authors.

In her “Afterword” Ms Topping wrote, “In my opinion, etiquette is far more important today than teaching students to cast effectively, to red water, to tie good knots, to catch fish. For in this ever-more-crowded world of flyfishing, if we forget our ‘water manners,’ it’s all lost. 
”Rod Rage ought to be required reading for any flyfisher ­ no, any angler who goes to a creek, river, lake, pond, estuary, flats, or blue water to enjoy the sport of angling without spoiling the sport of others.  Rhea Topping is to be commended for compiling the thinking of these authors as “The Ultimate Guide to Angling Ethics” for us.