BY THE FATHER OF TROLLING

The compleat Troller, or, the Art of Trolling, with a Description of all the Utensils, Instruments, Tackling, and Materials requisite thereto, with Rules and Directions how to use them, as also a brief Account of most of the principal Rivers in England, by a Lover of the Sport.

London, T. James for Thomas Helder, 1682.

Small 8vo, pp. [19], [1 (blank)], 78, [2 (contents, advertisement)]; chipped ‘E’ in the fourth line of the title, 2 woodcut illustrations (with the hook on p. 37 pointing to the right), printing flaw to final line p. 39; running title trimmed in a few places, a little foxed; in a late nineteenth-century allusive binding of green calf gilt, a fish tooled to centre and corners of boards and to spine, spine lettered directly in gilt, edges gilt, blue ribbon place-marker, burgundy endpapers; a very attractive copy; booklabel of John Hely-Hutschinson to front free endpaper (‘John Hely-Hutchinson, Chippenham Lodge, Ely, 1949').

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The compleat Troller, or, the Art of Trolling, with a Description of all the Utensils, Instruments, Tackling, and Materials requisite thereto, with Rules and Directions how to use them, as also a brief Account of most of the principal Rivers in England, by a Lover of the Sport.

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First edition of ‘the earliest major work devoted to pike fishing’ (ODNB). Nobbes’s anonymous Compleat Troller is the first English book substantially on ‘trolling’, or angling for deep-freshwater fish, especially pike, with live bait or artificial lures. Though ‘trolling’ now implies a fisherman’s boat in motion, what Nobbes describes we would call casting, with rod and reel, from the shore; Nobbes’s detailed and experienced advice would otherwise be largely recognizable to the modern reader.

After an introduction (partially taken from Venables’s Experience’d Angler) and several verses on fishing and trolling, Nobbes offers information on the anatomy and development of the pike, and advice on seasons, baits and hooks, lines and poles, landing pikes, and on English rivers and how to preserve them for trolling; included too are instructions for cooking pike.

Following a facsimile printed circa 1790 (often confused for the true first edition), the text regained popularity in the early nineteenth century, appearing in whole or in part in several editions of The Angler’s Pocket Book and Thomas Best’s Art of Angling.

Provenance: from the celebrated library of John Hely-Hutschinson (1881–1955), whose fine collection of historic bindings was dispersed by Sotheby’s in 1956, with the booklabel designed by his wife Sybil dated 1949.

Westwood & Satchell, p. 156 (‘Nobbes is commonly called “The father of trollers”’); Wing N 1193.

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