Balmeanie Lodge, a 19th-century English merchant's sporting retreat in the north of Scotland, was built for pleasure from profit. When Charles Rowley inherits it and with it its 10,000 acres of peat, rough grass, rocks, heather, and water - he realises that he must make a profit from pleasure; specifically, from the pleasure of fishing the River Struie, the Balmeanie Burn, and the hill lochs. In short, for a sporting estate like Balmeanie, the only resource left to it in the late-20th century is whatever money can be made from taking in guests who come to fish there. In this collection, Rowley tells the stories of Balmeanie and the guests who come there to fish, set against the backcloth of the wild mountains and the tumbling waters. A retired trade unionist and Labour politician encounters his first salmon, and his first ghillie, the dour and forthright Alec Ross, but despite a bad start comes to appreciate the place and its fishing. Roger Ballantyne, former soldier and practised fisherman, finds fear in a high and lonely place; a doctor from the Welsh Marches recalls the day when he snagged what is every fisherman's dread.
A delightful couple, skilled and experienced in the ways of salmon and of catching them, are ostensibly recommended by friends - but prove to be not what they seem. Mr Raymond Snaith, man of the City, expects to get value for money; his dog Nigger has no such inhibitions. A widow finds companionship, perhaps even love, and through it all Alec Ross keeps his own counsel and makes his own judgements - based largely upon a guest's tipping potential...Shot through with the fascination and mystery of fly-fishing, the characters - human and animal - that enliven the scene, the eccentricities of Highland life, and the beauty of the place, "Tales From the Rod Room" will interest any reader with the slightest feeling for the way of river and loch. Here is a book for those fishless days, for when the water is too high or too low, the sun too bright, or the fish not moving, or for the long winter evenings when darkness comes at four o'clock and the rods are safely cased until the new season.