Today’s phrase is of more common use and again we have Tony Wootton and Gwen Zanzottera to thank for their contribution. I got the book, “By Hook or By Crook” in Stratford-upon-Avon (the birthplace of William Shakespeare) when I went visiting there.
Although more commonly used today in popular murder mysteries, the saying does in fact goes back to fox hunting.
A red herring was a bloater (a herring partially dried in smoke) and this was often dragged across the trail of a fox to confuse the pursuing hounds. They would follow the false trail – the red herring.
Well, here you are – short and sweet how it all originated.