Film and movie reviews, Media

Australian Fishing Basics by Rob Paxevanos: Book review

Writing a book that covers the basics of fishing in Australia is not an enviable task.  In case you haven’t noticed, Australia is big.  Really big.  And incredibly diverse.  Australian fisheries range from trout in sub-alpine lakes in Tasmania to the tropical sauna that is the northern territory Barramundi fishery.  But this hasn’t stopped fishing writer, TV presenter and local guru Rob Paxevanos taking on the challenge in his first book, albeit with a slight bias towards his home town of Canberra and South East Australia.

Australian Fishing Basics Rob Paxevanos
Smiles all round! Australian Fishing Basics by Rob Paxevanos

Who is the book for?

“Together the chapters provide the building blocks for turning a novice into an angler or an angler into an expert”. Basically, there is something for everyone.  When the book arrived in my mailbox I eagerly thumbed the pages keen to see what tips and tricks I might pick up – in the hope of becoming an ‘expert’ of course!

What do you get for your money?

You get over 200 colour pages covering equipment, knots, techniques and heaps of really cool photos.  You also get a rundown of the 10 most popular angling species in Australia, with information on rigs, baits and lures.  In a subtle twist of irony, carp don’t rate a mention in the Top 10, or really at all, but more on this later.

Will you learn anything?

Sure, it would be impossible knot to (sorry, bad pun).  For one thing, it’s hard to ignore the words of someone who has a professional career of nearly 20 years dotted with impressive catches of Australia’s greatest fish. Perhaps you saw the Fishing Australia episode where Rob tackles a Marlin from a kayak? Or presents a dry fly to a hungry rainbow trout using light spinning gear?  Or lands a massive 35kg Murray Cod on a fly rod? Not only are these catches impressive and worth reading about in their own right, but they are innovative and the book is littered with new and novel ways of doing things experienced anglers rarely think twice about.  So while it might be aimed at newer anglers, this makes the book a valuable read for those that have been fishing for a few years too.  Let me give you one example that has stuck in my mind.

Have you ever considered why hooks have barbs?  I assumed that without them, a lot of fish would simply get off?  Consider then that barbed hooks might be a hangover from unattended lines, where a fish would fight against a slack line, sometimes for hours.  If you’re actively fishing, such as with lures or with braid, Rob argues there is no need for barbed hooks.  The constant pressure from your bent rod will keep the fish hooked.  Then if you want to release the fish, barbless hooks are easier to remove and do less damage.  But the best part is, a barbless hook penetrates 4 times more easily, meaning more bites should turn into hookups and more hookups into landed fish – A WIN for you and a WIN for the fish!  And of course, barbless hooks are safer for anglers too, especially if you’re fishing with kids … or with us 🙂

Lee hooked in hand barbed hook
Ouch!  Note the bent treble near the knot.  This lure was snagged on a tree branch.  When pressure was applied it flew straight back into the boat… with the barbs in tact it nearly ended the trip

Philosophy on Fishing

There is a strong theme of conservation in the book.  As a fishing personality and someone that people look to for advice, I commend Rob for continuing to deliver this message.  From barbless hooks on lures, to circle hooks for bait fishing, respecting bag limits and protecting our fragile native fisheries, the message throughout is clear.  Fish for the future!

Why would you buy a book?

Let’s face it, information on fishing isn’t that hard to find.  With the internet at our fingertips we can Google search anything we need to learn about, right? Well, if you’re new to fishing and trying to find “the best lure for flathead”, prepare yourself for a magical journey of internet forums, opinion, some facts, more opinion, marketing spin and conflicting advice.  Once you step away from the computer slightly more confused than when you started, you’ll realise an hour or more of your life has just passed you by.  Give it a go for yourself!

And herein lies the beauty of Australian Fishing Basics.  The information is right there in your hands.  Head to the index, look up flathead – lure fishing, and turn to pages 106-110.  There you will find a heap of information about catching flathead on lures, from soft plastics to surface lures.  In my opinion dipping in and out of the book like this is the best way to use it.  It’s not a book that is easy to read from cover to cover.  For example how to cast a fishing rod is hiding on page 63, next to a chapter on the importance of stealth when scoping a fishing spot.  For many people this won’t be a problem, but if you’ve got one of those orderly brains, you might struggle with the layout.

From humble beginnings

The first time I read Rob’s newspaper column would have been about 10 years ago.  I remember it vividly because the events that followed reignited my interest in fishing.  It wasn’t a tale of an amazing catch, although there were plenty of those, it was a simple, clear piece of writing that made fishing sound easy and something that I could have a go at.

Following his advice for tying a simple unweighted rig with a piece of bread dough on a hook, I hauled my first 2kg carp onto the bank the following afternoon.  Since then Rob’s graduated from writing columns to his first book and I’ve moved beyond fishing for the humble carp.  This is why I chuckled at the irony of not including it in the book, because for me, catching carp is where the addiction all started.  But to be honest, everything you need to know about catching carp is basically captured in the paragraph above!

Was this the fish that started it all? A carp in an urban pond caught on white bread
Nearly 10 years ago, Rob’s column in the newspaper inspired a visit to the local pond with a loaf of white bread – the rest is history

Final thoughts

If you’re new to fishing you’ll enjoy Australian Fishing Basics because it has a lot of information to get you started in fishing.  You’ll save yourself hours staring at your laptop trying to interpret online forums, blogs and magazines.  If you’ve been fishing for a few years,  you’ll enjoy Rob’s innovation and questioning of why we do things and pick up some great tips.  And if like me, you’re familiar with Rob’s no fuss, practical writing style, you’ll love having over 200 pages at your fingertips, even if they might not be in the most logical order.

Australian Fishing Basics by Rob Paxevanos gets 4 out of 5 barbless flathead lures


The book is available from Rob’s website or through the publisher.  My thanks to Rob for providing a copy to review.

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