The Compleat Angler: A Guide to the Fascinating World of Fishing

compleat angler


The popularity of fishing as a leisure or sport activity is growing worldwide. The Compleat Angler is a book by Izaak Waltons and Charles Cotton from the late 17th century that is considered one of the most important pieces of fishing literature. The book is a treasure trove of information on fishing, including the tools needed and techniques to catch fish. This article will take a closer view of The Compleat Angler, and discover what makes it a valuable resource for fishermen.

The Compleat Angler: A History

The Compleat Angler, first published in 1653, was an instant success. The Compleat Angler was reprinted several times over the centuries and translated into many different languages. The book’s popularity is due to its unique style, which is a mixture of practical advice, poems, and philosophical musings. It also explores the world of fishing in depth.

The Compleat Angler

The Compleat Angler is divided into two parts. The first part is an exchange between an experienced angler (Piscator) and a scholar (Venator). They discuss the art of fishing and the science behind it, from the equipment required to the types of fish that can be caught on different waters. Charles Cotton added his poem, “The Retirement,” to the second part. The poem, where the narrator sings praises for a peaceful rural lifestyle, complements the practical advice and philosophical musings in the first part.

The Equipment of an Expert Angler

The Compleat Angler provides detailed information on the fishing equipment required. It explains the different types of rods, lines and how to use them according to what type of fish you are catching. It also covers techniques like fly-fishing which uses a fake insect as bait to catch fish.

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The Techniques of an Expert Angler

The book is full of tips, tricks and techniques to find fish and catch them. The book also covers different types of water, from rivers, lakes, and the sea, as well as how to fish each one.

What makes The Compleat Angler special?

The Compleat Angler is unique because it provides a glimpse into the historical context of its writing. The book was written at a time of significant social and political changes in England. The book’s discussions on nature and human ethics reflected these changes.

What can modern anglers learn from The Compleat Angler?

The Compleat Angler, written hundreds of years before, still has a lot to say today. The book discusses techniques, equipment, and how to respect nature. Modern anglers will benefit from its advice. The book’s philosophy that fishing is a contemplative and life-affirming hobby has relevance today in a fast-paced world.

The Compleat Fly-Fisher and the Compleat Angler

The Compleat Angler discusses fly-fishing, a technique that is often associated with a lone fisherman standing in a river. Izaak Walton, one of the pioneers of fly fishing, still offers valuable advice today.

The Compleat Angler and Conservation

The Compleat angler has always stressed the importance of respecting nature. This message is now more important than ever. The book argues fishing is only worth it if you don’t harm the planet. Anglers must ensure that they release the fish that they catch back into the wild and that their habitats are protected.


The Compleat Angler should be read by anyone who is interested in fishing, the environment, or history. Its insights into angling’s art and science, as well as the philosophy that fishing is a contemplative, life-affirming, activity, make this a timeless classic. The Compleat angler is a valuable resource for any angler, whether you are a seasoned pro or just getting started.

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