"Fly Fishing" - by David Anderson

Peter Morse reviews photographer David Anderson's new coffee-table book

by Saturday, 16 December 2017

A book is not an easy thing to produce. If you think it is, just sit down to write one and then get back to me… For most people, putting words into meaningful sentences and paragraphs is a real grind, and I know that David Anderson’s recently published book Fly Fishing had a gestation period of more than a decade. Dave admits to being grammatically challenged, but he does have a unique turn of phrase that makes his writing so entertaining.
As anyone who has had anything to do with fly fishing (or the music industry and celebrities) knows, Dave is a great photographer, and as you would expect, his first book is heavy on the photography. But when ‘word-smithing’ doesn’t come naturally, it’s only an immense amount of persistence, desire and hard work that’s going to produce the text to accompany the images.
Having worked with Dave in the field I also know that he’s meticulous about his photography. He’s also incredibly generous with his time, if, like me, you’re not up to speed with the really fine and subtle points of good photography. We’ve had many long conversations about Lightroom versus Bridge, Canon v Nikon v Fuji, Mirrorless v SLR.
Dave’s obsession for as long as I’ve known him (more than 20 years) has been fishing small streams with small rods. Even when we fished the Tongariro River together he wanted it known that he would rather be on the TT (Tauranga Taupo) and other smaller Taupo streams. In the South Island we scratched around on the parched plains of the Mackenzie Country for mythical spring creeks we could jump across, while real water with real fish beckoned.
In spite of his being 6'4" on the old scale he’s someone who seems happiest when he has in hand a rod that’s shorter than he is, on a stream that’s narrower than the rod is long. He coined the terms ‘Twig’ and ‘Twigwater’ to describe this fascination with rinky-dinky rods, itty-bitty reels, small streams and small jewel-like fish. I suspect that even if he’d lived and fished in big river country he would have sought out the small waters. There’s a study in that for a psychologist…
So this book is mostly about fishing small streams in Australia and New Zealand, and although not large in size (like the streams he fishes) it is definitely a book you can browse and dream with, through the images alone, and so it can comfortably sit on any coffee table.
To get away from static images, Dave specialises in the silky smooth flowing appearance of longer shutter exposures on moving water, and the book is rich with them. This is tricky photography that requires compliant friends and plenty of time and good light. It has become a trademark of his. But although many will be seduced by the images, it’s his words (edited by son Edward) that resonate with me.
You’re a piece of work Dave and so is your book. Nice job mate.
Available from the online shop at flylife.com.au/shop