As I pen this, we're barely into October, yet the shops are brimming with Christmas gifts, cards, wrapping paper and more chocolate than you can shake a stick at. It's at this time of year that we receive a high volume of books to review, in time for publication and attracting the Christmas gift buyer. I'm not a big one for reading carp fishing books, I have to admit, largely as I am surrounded by carp fishing every day and I know many of the authors personally. I also know most of their histories and their tales of carp fishing adventure, indeed I have even featured in one of two books written by some of the big names. So, no, I normally leave the book reading to the rest of the team.
However, when I was asked by Kevin Nash to read a first draft of his new book 'Memoirs Of A Carp Fisher – The Demon Eye' I couldn't refuse. Kevin is quite simply a living legend within carp fishing. He won't mind me telling you that not everybody in these circles is his friend, but that can very often (not always) be simply down to the fact that he says it how he sees it. There are no grey areas with Kevin, only black and white, and a lot of people are not comfortable with that.
Indeed, I have had more than my fair share of altercations with the man, but they've always been dealt with and then put behind us. You know, like men do. So, what about the book itself? Well, having had it for just a few busy few days I have managed only to skim read it, and even then only an electronic version, not the final printed edition. However, it has made an immediate impact. To say it is fascinating would barely begin to do it justice. In fact, I could list superlative after superlative, but they could never paint the picture sufficiently enough.
Written in Kevin's own wonderful style (I would argue that he is technically the best writer I have ever worked with), The Demon Eye will be on my wish list as soon as it is printed later this month. As I do not read many books so too do I not have a huge collection. However, I genuinely look forward to adding this to my bookshelf alongside my carefully chosen previous offerings from messrs Lane, Hearn, Maylin and Macdonald.
"An entertaining romp through the carp revolution of the 1970s/1980s - and beyond. Taking you through this journey is one of carp fishing's brightest thinkers, an entrepreneur who helped establish carp fishing as the main stream business it is today. Refreshingly frank, and to the point at times, I found it a great read and Kevin's enthusiasm for the sport still bubbles through the pages. I particularly liked the Harefield chapters – thank god I was fishing in France by that time or I might have succumbed to the night life!"
P.S. Many years ago, in between divorces, Kevin took me to a night club in southend on sea; TOTS it was called if I recall correctly. "What do you think then?" Said Kev, as backs to the bar, on display was a dance floor full of gyrating women. And to be fair to them, despite Essex jokes, all seemed attractive to me! It was hard to spot a bad 'un! "Looks like they are feeding" I said, "Feeding? They are ravenous" said Kev "They'll have the bait while it's still in the bag" Needless to say we blanked that night and ended up with the shits from a dubious curry!
P.P.S. Big respect to a guy who came as close as anyone to achieving all of their dreams.
"Memoirs of a Carp Fisher - The Demon Eye" Kevin Nash
For many readers of Carp Talk each week the name Kevin Nash is synonymous with Nash Tackle, Nashbait and the incredible Copse and Church Lake fish that feature in these pages from time to time. But that is just part of the story, the real story that many have wanted to know is what or who is the real Kevin Nash? For years I, like many others, have nagged him to write a book; but he has always had other projects to attend to, carp to catch and waters to develop he told me. However the last two years have been different and on my trips down to see him and fish at Church Pool I have generally found him hard at work on this his first of two or even maybe three books covering his life in and out of carp fishing. The book market is saturated at the moment and, whilst well meaning, many of these books are just a trawl of big fish; the true stories behind them and the author are glossed over at best and missed out altogether in some cases. It paints a false picture to many, who think that they too can go out and do it without the pain that goes with being a long time carp angler and that addiction to carp fishing that so many of us bare. When I finished Kevin's book I thought to myself "Thank god someone has had the guts to tell it how it is from their perspective...."
Make no mistake this is a hard hitting and undoubtedly controversial book for many. Kevin doesn't suffer fools gladly, calls a spade a spade and he isn't afraid to reveal not only his own failures but also his views on others. So whether you love him or hate him, ignore it at your peril....it's a carp man's carp book and if you crossed 'Tiger Bay' with 'The Carp Strikes Back' and named the names that's the kind of book you have!
Starting with his early years and how the carp bug took hold, its one of those books that the more you read it the more you will possibly see of yourself in its pages. From the friendships that you make that last lifelong, to being double crossed, to taking no prisoners when it comes to catching carp or getting ahead in business. Kevin also reveals all during his time at Harfield; the parties and when you draw in Dougal, Maylin, Zenon and co. you know it's going to be fun - and just a little bit naughty. The countless ups and downs that Kev has had with women including the legendary Horse and Barge landlady....you really need to read it. Where else would you read a carp angler revealing his addiction to....? Well as I said, you need to read it for yourself.
But it's not all about Kevin's carp fishing life - not by a long way - as running along the fishing side of things are the formation of Nash Tackle and Nash Bait; the link up and fallout with Rod Hutchinson, the things that worked and the things that certainly didn't. I know Kevin well, and I know my carp fishing history pretty well too, but there is stacks I didn't know and I guess that he has never revealed before. There's some brilliant technical stuff on bait and bait application, rigs and fine tuning them, Zig rigs and safe end tackles, baiting a water and lots more besides. His technical prowess is second to none but I guess when you fish against the lads he has fished against at Layer, Snake Pit, Harefield and so on… you do have to be top of your game. With characters from Zenon to Derek Stritton, the 'Nod' to Cliff Fox - it's an 'in-your-face' read for sure. I really did think I knew him well, but the personal stuff he details in this book is very revealing indeed. Some of you will love that and some of you will be shocked, but it's a proper carp book and not a soft soap book aimed at bigging himself or Nash Tackle up. I can't recommend it highly enough and I can't wait to see the forums and letter pages when it hits the shelves. The most honest carp book I have read yet, and although it ends in 1993 I just know there's a lot more to come from him... I can't wait to read the follow ups and I know you will love this one...
Gary Hood - Angling Publications
"I've done the layout work for many carp anglers' books in recent years, including Rod Hutchinson, Tim Paisley, and Darrell Peck, and have been in the enviable position of being able to read the manuscripts before they become an actual book. You might think that all carp books are much of the same, and in some cases you'd be right, but after reading just a few chapters of Kevin's 'The Demon Eye' I knew that wouldn't be the case with this one. Right from the off, the reader can relate to Kevin, as he recounts his formative years and his journey into the growing world of carp and carp anglers – a journey we've all took at some point. The book goes on to cover some of Kevin's fishing on iconic waters such as Harefield, Silver End, and the unique head-banger that was Snake Pit in it's heyday, but what really gripped me personally is the way Kevin's thought process regarding rigs, bait and tactics is laid bare in this book – which shows why Kevin is regarded as such an innovator in these fields. I don't want to give too much more about the content of the book away here, I just urge you to get hold of a copy of what is genuinely one of the best, most-enjoyable and thought-provoking carp books I've read, and find out what all the fuss is about for yourself."
When I was told Kevin Nash was writing a book I knew instantly that there would be a content I should want to read, after all we spent our youth growing up in the same 'Carp Era', and also my respect to one of the most innovative minds in angling, meant I craved for the edition to land on my doorstep. Was I disappointed when it did, not in the slightest, in fact 'The Demon Eye' turned out to be even better than I had expected. I am sure this book will jerk a few nerves, ruffle some brooding feathers and then make you realise that with justification Kevin has told it as it is, black and white, warts and all. It's a reminder of just what he has provided to the worldwide carp industry as a whole; for that any reader of the book should be indebted.
I can't begin without mentioning the foreword; keenly, humbly written and dedicated to Kevin by Alan Blair, a man who I have the greatest of respect for; indeed his foreword is fitting to the commencement of this book.
So for me I shared the highs and lows of Kevin's ambitions and achievements, knowing some of the waters he was fishing at the time, the kit that was available and the passion that flowed through a true carp angler's veins; their lies the difference the adversary was the carp, he or she was seen like a drug addicts fix, they had to be caught and the lengths and breadths that Kevin went to, and still goes to, is passionately written for us to eagerly await the result in each forthcoming page. Its not page after page of train spotting carp fishing, tick the box of a bounty hunter and move on to the next venue, no there is sadness, laughter and frivolity, and surely mixed with the reality of that generation of carp angling; this is what you want and expect from an author's pen, not just I went caught and buggered off to the next water down the road.
In the 70's and 80's the camaraderie was like no other I have ever experienced in my angling career, and as Kevin's pen twists and turns you learn of this and see so many of the great minds of carp anglers he crossed paths with, anglers like Roger Smith, who still catch more than their fare share today, it's the way a carp angler was brought up, the way he thought, and this is portrayed succinctly by Kevin in his memoirs. I soon became engulfed with Kevin's mind set towards rig mechanics, and I would say to anyone if you want to understand the basics of rig design, moving through to logical progress of Kevin's blow out rig and more, then this is a book for you. The technical aspects Kevin portrays throughout the Demon Eye shows you a little of how this man's brain works when it comes to tackling rig shy, wary carp, why he was and is still so successful in this department, you just can't help to learn and improve upon your own quality of presentation. The spicey tales make you realise Kevin and his mates enjoyed their life and carp life to the full, and this is perhaps why he still thirsts for knowledge of everything and anything associated with carp, why he is still at the top of the ladder catching carp from waters here and abroad. If you don't laugh, applaud and admit respect then you have not read this book with the passion in which it has been written, that of a true carp angler, it arguably sums up what carp angling should be about…. life.