James Mottram wrote at the height of great intellectual turmoil in the world of British fly fishing, when advocates of dry-fly fishing quarreled with their nymph-fishing counterparts over which type of fishing was not only more effective but also more "appropriate" on England's famous chalkstreams. Mottram stepped into this bitter controversy with writings that calmly considered the strengths, weaknesses, and prospects of all fly-fishing methods.
In his introduction to this first American edition of Mottram's writings, Paul Schullery praises Mottram's "enthusiastic voice, ceaseless curiosity, and intuitive sense of how things worked." Schullery concludes that Mottram, who was rare among early angling authorities in actually being scientifically trained, "applied a disciplined understanding of nature's subtlety and complexity to the study of the trout's world." That he was also a lively and inventive storyteller only adds to the value of his work today.