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Title: A Concise Practical Treatise on Artificial Fly Fishing for Trout
Author: Drake, Grey
Language: English
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ON ARTIFICIAL FLY FISHING FOR TROUT ***



    A CONCISE

    PRACTICAL TREATISE

    ON

    ARTIFICIAL FLY FISHING

    FOR

    TROUT.

    BY

    GREY DRAKE,

    AN ARTIFICIAL FLY-FISHER OF FIFTY YEARS’ EXPERIENCE.

    LONDON:

    PUBLISHED BY G. BERGER, HOLYWELL STREET, STRAND.

    PRICE ONE SHILLING AND SIXPENCE.



PREFACE.


In the following humble effort I have endeavoured to communicate to
the inexperienced lovers of artificial fly-fishing, as concisely as
possible, and in a practical form, the result of my own experience of
upwards of fifty years.

I treat only of fishing for trout with the artificial fly, adding a few
observations on dibbing for trout with artificial flies and other baits.

I have no other ambition than that of initiating the tyro in the
“gentle” and elegant art, with as little trouble and expense to him
as may be. If he will do me the honour to become my disciple, and
practise what I preach, I confidently promise him as much success as
any artificial fly-fisher may reasonably expect.

  GREY DRAKE.

  1860.



CONTENTS.


                                                      PAGE

    CHAPTER I.—The tackle—the rod—the reel—the line     5

    CHAPTER II.—Artificial flies                        6

    CHAPTER III.—Throwing the fly                      10

    CHAPTER IV.—General directions, observations, &c.  11

    CHAPTER V.—To make a tail line—to tie on a hook    17

    CHAPTER VI.—Bob-flies                              19

    CHAPTER VII.—Dibbing                               20



A PRACTICAL TREATISE,

ETC.



CHAPTER I.


THE TACKLE.

I give no directions for making rods, lines, or flies. I recommend the
purchase of these at the best fishing-tackle shops. As to the supposed
advantage to the artificial fly-fisher of being able to make artificial
flies by the river-side, in imitation of the fly actually on the water,
I am confidently of opinion, the acquisition of that art is wholly
unnecessary and useless, as I shall more fully explain hereafter.


THE ROD.

The rod can scarcely be too light and pliable. Its pliability assists
greatly, not only in throwing the fly, but in hooking and retaining the
fish. The butt end should have a hollow sufficient to hold an extra
top-piece, secured by a brass screw-nut, which, when the rod is used,
should be taken out, and a spike [Illustration] screwed into its
place. The spike is very useful for sticking the rod upright in the
ground, as occasion may require. Some prefer a two-handed rod for large
rivers. I think it is unnecessarily fatiguing to use a two-handed rod,
inasmuch as a skilful artist can throw a fly with a single-handed rod
as far as is necessary, and I never use any other. The single-handed
rod should be about thirteen or fourteen feet long. To prevent the
danger of breaking the rod, by the joints separating in throwing the
fly, the joints should be whipped with strong silk, as shown in this
figure.

[Illustration]

Fly rods are sometimes made to attach their joints by screws at the
butt ends. Whipping rods so made is of course unnecessary, but I do
not approve of screw-jointed rods, as they cannot be made sufficiently
light and pliable.


THE REEL.

I prefer the spring cog-check wheel, which, when the line is lengthened
or shortened, makes a noise like that caused by winding up a clock.
By this reel the line may be lengthened or shortened with sufficient
rapidity, and with precisely, and no more than the proper resistance,
the checks preventing the line running out too fast. This reel is, I
think, far preferable to the multiplying reel, which is very liable to
get out of order.


THE LINE.

I prefer a horsehair line. In length it should be proportioned to
the size of the river you fish. For large rivers seventy or eighty
yards are not too much; for narrow rivers thirty or forty yards are
sufficient. It should gradually taper towards the end to which the gut
or tail line is attached, so that from four to five yards should be
little thicker than the gut itself. The gut, or tail line, should be at
least three yards long; thick and strong for rainy and windy weather
and discoloured water. It cannot be too fine for bright weather and
clear water, with little wind.



CHAPTER II.

ARTIFICIAL FLIES.


Volumes have been written on this subject, teaching the manner of
making hundreds of different artificial flies, the materials and
paraphernalia requisite for the finished fly-maker, the particular
flies proper for various rivers, and for each month of the fishing
season, &c., &c. All this, I consider, is perfectly useless, and I am
decidedly of opinion, that when trout are disposed to take the fly, it
matters not what fly is used, as to shape or colour, provided it be of
the proper _size_. When trout are not disposed to take the fly, you
may try all the flies in your book, without success. I have, by way
of experiment, fished during an entire season with the coachman and
governor only, and have been uniformly successful with those two flies,
even during the May fly season, when the water has been covered with
May flies, and the fish taking them greedily. The May fly is doubtless
a great favourite with trout, and I would not recommend fishing with
any other fly during the May fly season, although trout will take them
before, as well as after the season. These flies make their appearance
about the end of May, and disappear about the end of June.

Experience has taught me the fallacy of the common notion, that trout
are finished entomologists, and will reject all flies not actually on
the water, and even all flies in imitation of those actually on the
water, unless the shape and size be exact, and the colour correct to a
shade! The fact is, that when in the humour to take the fly, trout will
take freely all sorts of insects that come in their way, from the May
bug and grasshopper to the black gnat, and when feeding on insects they
are not nice as to the kind, shape or colour of the insect presented to
them. At the commencement of my piscatory career I was as fastidious
as I imagined the fish to be, and I so continued until experience
convinced me of my error.

I once met with a clergyman fishing, who cast his fly clumsily. He
kept pretty well out of sight of the fish, but when his fly reached
the water a large portion of the line accompanied it, making a splash,
and frightening away the fish. He had a book full of all sorts of
well-made flies, which he constantly changed, but got no rises. A
labouring countryman was following him at the distance of about a
quarter of a mile, fishing with clumsy tackle, with which, by the
skilful casting of his fly, he repeatedly took good-sized fish, to
the great astonishment of the clergyman, who attributed his own want
of success, not to his want of skill, but to his not using the right
fly. “Will you permit me,” said he to the countryman, “to look at your
fly?”—“By all means,” said he. “I am just about to put on another;”
and, taking out his knife, he cut off a small piece of his black
velveteen jacket, and stuck it on his hook, thus making what he called
a black hackle! With that rude imitation he had caught all his fish;
thus demonstrating that skill in the use of the artificial fly, however
rudely made, will succeed, where the best imitations, clumsily used,
will fail.

Although, by way of experiment, I have fished, during an entire season,
with coachman and governor only, I would by no means recommend the
fly-fisher to restrict himself to those flies; but I am quite sure
that the flies comprised in the following list will be found amply
sufficient for the whole fishing season, and for all countries and all
rivers:—

  The March Brown.         The Red Hackle.
  The Governor.            The Black Hackle.
  The Coachman.            The Blue Dun.
  The Green Drake } May    The Alder Fly.
  The Grey Drake  } Flies. The Black Gnat.

Fill your book with a sufficient quantity of these flies only, well
made, half large and half small, and you will have as good a chance of
success as a fly-fisher may reasonably expect.

The coachman is made with large peacock body, and white wings, and
derives its name from the fact of its having been invented and first
brought into notice by a Coachman, a celebrated fly-fisher. It is a
very useful fly, and is taken by trout readily, in all waters, and in
every part of the season, although not made to resemble any natural
fly. It is preferable I think to the white moth for evening fishing.

Choose your May flies with wings made large and standing up, full
bodies and long tails; and use no flies that are not made on Limerick
hooks, which double your chance of hooking fish.

In all fly-fishing matches with which I am acquainted, and in some
of which I have been myself engaged, each competitor has fished with
a different kind of fly, and neither with a fly resembling that
actually on the water. The success of each has been, generally, nearly
equal, the winner gaining the match by a very few; attributable (as
I believe), not to the fly he used, but to his superior skill, or to
fortuitous circumstances, altogether independent of the particular fly
he fished with.

I have dwelt upon this subject because I wish to guard the tyro against
the too common failing of being fidgety as to his flies, and changing
them repeatedly, fancying (for it is fancy only) that he does not get
rises because he is not using the right fly. Fish with any of the flies
I have mentioned—small, with fine gut, when the weather is bright and
the water clear, with little wind—and larger, with stouter gut, when
the weather is cloudy, windy, or rainy, and the water discoloured—and
you may rest assured you will take as many fish as any competitor of
only equal skill, with a book full of all sorts of flies, of all shapes
and colours; and even with flies, admirably made by himself at the
river-side, in imitation of the fly actually on the water.

I cannot, I think, better conclude my observations on artificial flies,
or better satisfy the tyro of their truth, than by assuring him of the
fact that some of the most successful first-rate fly-fishers, _old
hands_, never, throughout the season, use any other flies than the
red, brown, and black hackles, with and without wings, and the black
gnat. I therefore hope that my list of flies will be considered amply
sufficient, as I am quite sure _experience will prove it to be_.



CHAPTER III.

THROWING THE FLY.


Fly-fishing demands more skill than any other mode. To throw the fly
well is the chief mystery of the art. Practice at first with a line
only as long again as the rod, and lengthen it by degrees, as you find
you progress. In drawing the line out of the water, incline the rod
rather to the right, then describe a sort of half circle round your
head by elevating the rod and giving it a motion towards your left.
The moment the line thrown reaches its whole length, the fly should
touch the water, else it will be checked, and recoil, falling heavily,
and making a splash, which must by all means be avoided, or it will
frighten away all the fish in the immediate neighborhood. Before you
bring the rod forward to deliver the line, it (the line) should be at
its full length _behind_ you; if not, a splash will most infallibly
ensue. As little as possible of the line should touch the water; to
accomplish which, when you deliver the fly, the rod should not be
depressed too much, for the nearer it approaches the water, the more
line will fall upon it, and the greater splash will be the result.

As soon as the fly touches the water, draw it gently backwards,
communicating to it an irregular motion by means of a tremulous
movement of the wrist, causing it to imitate the movements of a fly
accidentally cast on the water, and struggling to prevent drowning.
This, especially if there be but little ripple, greatly increases your
chance of a rise.

In bringing back the fly after having thrown it out, let it not
approach too near to you before you raise it from the stream for
another cast; otherwise, with a long line, you will find yourself so
embarrassed as not to be able to give the line a sufficient swing back
round your head to throw it with precision the next time.

Excellence in throwing the fly consists in causing it to fall
_lightly_, and over any spot you may desire. This can only be
accomplished by practice, for with all the knowledge theory can instil,
it requires practice before you can throw the fly either to the exact
spot you intend, or so that the sharpest eye cannot detect where it
fell when there is a moderate ripple curling the surface of the water.

I have been diffuse in my directions for throwing the fly because it
is the chief mystery in the art of fly-fishing, and difficult to be
acquired in perfection. I strongly recommend the tyro to take a few
lessons in throwing the fly from some experienced and skilful “Brother
of the Angle.” A few such lessons will be found to be worth volumes of
theory.



CHAPTER IV.

GENERAL DIRECTIONS, OBSERVATIONS, ETC.


The fly-fisher may have acquired perfection in the art of throwing
the fly; he may fish with the finest gut and the smallest and most
killing flies; but _unless he keep out of sight of the fish_, he may
just as well stay at home—he will take no fish. If a splash in the
water, caused by the clumsy falling of the line, frighten away the
fish, the sight of the fisherman himself will send them all to their
holds, to a distance of thirty or forty yards from him! Trout are very
sharp-sighted, timid and wary; and whenever they chance to see the
fisherman, no bait whatever will be sufficient to tempt them to take
it, and the utmost skill and dexterity will be thrown away.

When you observe a trout rise at a fly, throw your fly about a foot
above where you judge his head to lie, and a little to the left or
right of him. If he does not rise at your first cast, throw again three
or four times. He will not take your fly unless it be presented to him
temptingly, and near to him. He will not quit his post for your fly if
it be out of his feeding circuit; and a few casts may bring it into
that desirable locality. Trout always lie with their heads looking up
the stream, watching for what it may bring them; and when they are
taking the fly readily, they swim within a few inches of the surface of
the water; but they will not go out of their feeding circuit to take
_any_ fly.

_The very instant_ you perceive a trout has taken your fly, strike him
_at the same instant_ by slightly elevating the wrist. This should be
done with the utmost rapidity, or the fish will manage to reject the
treacherous imitation that has deceived him, and you will not rise him
again for hours afterwards. In fact, I have often seen a good-sized
trout that had escaped after having been hooked, not only afterwards
invariably refuse the artificial fly, but quit his lair and take to his
shelter the moment he perceived the tail line fall on the water.

When you have hooked a fish, you must necessarily act as the nature
of the place will allow. If embarrassed with bushes, &c., get him out
as quickly as possible. You may chance to lose him in the endeavour,
but if you have not space for playing him, what is to be done? If you
are in a situation to be able to play him, do so, keeping him well in
hand with your bent rod. Never check a trout strongly in _his first_
run, if avoidable. If he should be approaching anything that would
endanger your line, strive to _guide_ him _gradually_ from it, by
gently inclining your rod in the direction you wish him to take, always
keeping him, as I before observed, well in hand with your bent rod.
Never pull _directly against him_; for, if you do, you will probably
cause him to plunge and leap in such a manner as to endanger your
tackle, or tear the hook from its hold in his mouth. Trout, like many
reasoning animals, may be easily _guided_, but never _compelled_, if
of good size and strength, until, by playing him, he has been made
too weary and exhausted for further contention. A small fish may
of course be landed at once, but a fish of good size and strength
should be _played_, if possible, until he becomes so exhausted by his
struggles as to offer a favourable opportunity for introducing him
into the landing net. If you have space for playing the fish, and are
unencumbered by bushes, &c., perseverance, patience, address, and _sang
froid_, will generally enable you to secure the largest trout.

It is difficult to give directions where to find trout in a trout
stream. I have found them in every part of the stream. Good-sized trout
often lurk near the edge under the banks, especially in narrow streams.
I always try there first. They also lie in the currents of the stream
watching for their prey. If there be any impediment in the stream, such
as a large stone, &c., which, by projecting above or near the surface
of the water, causes an increased rippling, never miss such a spot,
but throw just above the rippling, drawing the fly through it. Towards
evening trout are roaming about more freely in every part of the
stream. It is of frequent occurrence to see a trout sailing up and down
near the edge of the stream for a determinate distance. He is then in
search of food. Keep out of sight, and he will probably take your fly.

Where trout are moderately plentiful, fish every yard of water.

As a rule, _small and fine_ is the fly-fisher’s maxim. In clear, bright
water it is almost useless to use any thick-bodied fly. The smallest
and thinnest-bodied flies are preferable in clear, bright water, and
the larger in thick water, or on a windy day. You may successfully use
any of the flies I have enumerated: small for clear, bright water, and
larger for thick water or a blustering day.

The weather has an extraordinary effect on fish: I mean on their
disposition to feed. In an easterly wind trout will not rise freely;
thunder-storms they abominate; and very boisterous winds are
unfavourable, let them proceed from what quarter they may. _During_
and _after gentle showers_, with not too much wind, is the time, _par
excellence_, for beguiling trout. Avoid a very bright day, unless
there is sufficient wind to cause a strong ripple; but even then few
trout will be your reward on a very bright day. A dark day succeeding
a light night is never to be missed if you wish to fill your basket,
for trout are almost as timid in a bright moonlight night as during
the day. In such nights they will not feed freely. Should the next
day, therefore, prove gloomy, it will probably repay you for many
disappointments. In cold weather, fish only in the middle of the day:
in hot weather, morning and evening are to be preferred. The evening
is, I think, better than the morning; probably because, as trout
abstain in a great measure from feeding during the heat, they are more
eager when they recommence; and as they generally feed freely during
the night, they are less eager for food in the morning. An hour before
the disappearance of twilight, and, unless the night be _very_ dark, an
hour afterwards, will afford the best sport, and the largest fish. I
once met with a singular proof of this. I had been fishing at Colonel
Hawker’s, Long Parish, Hants, and the day being very hot and bright,
and no wind, I had bad sport. The keeper assured me, that if I waited
until dark, and then fished a certain piece of backwater he pointed
out, I should take some fine fish. Seeing by the movement of this water
a fish was upon the feed during the twilight, I cast my fly for him,
but as soon as it reached the water he was off. The keeper told me I
was too early, that the fish were large and wary, that I must wait
until it was _dark_. I did so, and putting on a large grey drake, in
less than an hour I took four fine trout, weighing upwards of three
pounds each. Although it was conveniently dark, the fish could see my
fly, but could not see me or the line, and I could perceive a rise by a
sort of bright flash in the water.

Do not allow your shadow to pass over the water if you can avoid it.
You will rarely take a trout soon afterwards at the place where your
shadow has passed over the water.

If you happen to be on the stream on a day when you have little sport,
by all means repair to the same water the next day if you have reason
to believe the trout to be moderately plentiful, and you will probably
find them feeding freely. “Trout affection not long fasts,” as dear old
Isaac would say.

Skill in fly-fishing is neutralised by anger and impatience. Patience
and perseverance stand at the head of the angler’s cardinal virtues.
With good tackle and proper-sized flies, moderate skill, and a
favourable day, the tyro will astonish the natives of the stream if he
keeps out of their sight; and if a little experience be added to the
above, he may perchance astonish himself.

However fine the weather, wear long boots, as nearly waterproof as may
be.

Frequently examine your fly to ascertain if it be in good order. I have
often hooked a good trout, which soon got away, and, upon examination
of my fly, I found the barb of the hook gone.

Take care that you do not, by a too sudden jerk, when bringing the fly
forward for a fresh cast, snap it off. This often happens to the tyro,
and sometimes to old hands. A slight, sharp, snapping noise of the
line, in bringing it forward for a cast, is a sure symptom of the loss
of the fly.

Never fish without carrying a landing net with you, or having it
carried for you. The largest fish are frequently lost for want of a
landing net, especially when you fish with small flies. If possible,
the fish should never see the landing net, nor the person who uses it.
Never allow the landing net to be _poked at_ a fish; and never touch
the line, nor allow it to be touched, whilst you have a good-sized fish
at the end of it.

Carry with you, when fishing, a disengaging instrument, which you may
screw to the butt end of the handle of your landing net, when required.
The instrument is very useful for disengaging your fly and line from
weeds, bushes, &c. It is sold in most of the fishing-tackle shops, and
is in the form below. The edge _b_ is made sufficiently sharp to cut
away weeds, bushes, &c.

[Illustration]

Always carry with you a piece of India rubber. Draw the tail line
through it before you use the line, in order to straighten it and prove
its strength; and if there are any faults in it, the India rubber will
find them out, which is far better than making the discovery by losing
a good fish from the too easy breaking of your untried tail line.

Gut is apt to snap if very dry, and I recommend immersing it in
water for ten or fifteen minutes before using it. The best method of
preserving gut that I know of is to keep it in parchment, slightly
steeped in best salad oil.

Always carry with you some strong silk and strong thread, and a piece
of shoemaker’s wax.



CHAPTER V.


TO MAKE A TAIL LINE.

In joining pieces of gut together to make a tail line, I think the
following joining knot, called the “sheet bend,” is the best, as the
knot is the smallest and neatest that can be made, and the more the
line is stretched, the tighter the knot becomes.

Make a loop with the left-hand end of the gut to be joined, (_a b_
figure below), and hold it between the finger and thumb of the left
hand. Then pass the end of the right hand gut to be joined through the
loop and under it; then round and under the two legs of the loop; then
over the _b_ leg of the loop; then under itself and out over the _a_
leg of the loop, as shown in the figure below. (See another mode of
joining pieces of gut for tail lines in the observations on bob-flies,
page 20.)

[Illustration]

Although, perhaps, scarcely necessary, I may state that the hair line
has a joining loop at the small end of it; the tail line a similar loop
at each end, and the fly a similar loop at the other end of the gut to
which it is attached. To attach the hair line to the tail line, insert
the loop of the hair line, then bring the other end of the tail line
through the loop of the hair line, and continue drawing it through
that loop until both loops meet and interlace each other. The fly is
attached to the tail line by interlacing the loops in the same way. By
reversing the operation, the lines and fly may be readily detached and
separated.


TO TIE ON A HOOK.

Take a sufficiency of strong silk, well waxed with shoemaker’s wax.
Flatten the gut to which you intend to fasten the hook; that is, about
as much of it as, when the gut is placed on the hook, will reach half
way down the shank. This may be done with the teeth or a pair of
pliers, and is designed to prevent the gut from all chance of slipping.
_Never omit this._ Lay the gut on the inside of the hook, and hold it
between the thumb and finger of the left hand. Begin by wrapping the
silk twice round the bare hook close to the end of the shank, then
pass the silk over both gut and hook, winding it tightly on till you
come near the bend; then fasten as follows:—When you come to within
three turns of the distance to which you mean the silk to extend, lay
the silk along the hook at _b_ (figure below), leaving the end hanging
down, take hold of the part of the silk _a_, and continue to wind it
on in the same way, but making it pass over the silk at _b_, as well
as over the gut and hook for three turns. Then take hold of the end of
silk _c_, and pull all tight; cut off the end of silk _c_, and it is
done. This is called the “invisible tie,” and is the neatest I know,
and the most secure.

[Illustration]

If you break a part of your rod, and have to splice it, fasten the
splicing by the invisible tie. The splicing should be done with strong
silk, well waxed with shoemaker’s wax.



CHAPTER VI.

BOB-FLIES.


I never fish with more than one fly. Some fishermen use two, and even
three, in addition to the end fly or stretcher. Those additional flies
are called bob-flies. My opinion is, that one fly is sufficient, and
that more are inconvenient, more difficult to manage, and cause a
greater disturbance of the water, without any countervailing advantage.
With bob-flies you may sometimes hook two fish at once, but they are
generally very small under such circumstances. The luck of hooking two
_good_ fish at the same time rarely happens; and if it should happen,
you would probably lose one or both of them, and some of your tackle
into the bargain. Still, if you prefer fishing with two or more flies,
the first bob-fly should be about three feet from the stretcher,
and the second about five feet. More than two bob-flies I consider
ridiculous, as well as prejudicial. The bob-fly may be attached, either
by bending the tail line into a loop, thus

[Illustration]

and putting on the bob-fly through the loop as you would put on the
stretcher; or the tail line may be separated at the point where
the bob-fly is to be attached, and the two ends of the gut, at the
separation, may be placed one over the other, thus

[Illustration].

Then tie a common knot at each end, thus

[Illustration].

Then take the bob-fly, with about four inches of gut attached, and tie
a common knot at the end of the gut. Then insert the bob-fly between
the two ends of the gut and its knots. Then pull the two knots of the
tail line tight together, and pull the knot of the bob-fly to meet
those two knots, and the operation is finished, and the tail line and
bob-fly assume the following appearance:—

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

I consider this is the better plan of attaching a bob-fly, as it stands
out better from the tail line, and is less likely to be entangled by
it, and the knots of the tail line may be separated, and the bob-fly
taken out. But, as I before observed, I do not recommend bob-flies.
Those who like them may use them. Mrs. Glasse, after giving her
admirable recipe for making a plum-pudding, adds, “those who like it
may add an anchovy.”



CHAPTER VII.

DIBBING.


Dibbing is another mode of fly-fishing, or rather of fishing on the
surface; for other baits, besides the fly, may be used. It is more
especially applicable to narrow streams that are embarrassed with trees
and bushes, and is a most killing method.

In my fishing excursions, I always take with me a stiff little
pocket-rod, of four pieces, each about two feet and a half in length,
with a small reel attached, and about twenty yards of strong silk line,
so that I may have a fair chance of successful sport, when I happen to
be fishing on a stream where trees and bushes prevent my throwing the
artificial fly, and where the large trout take refuge for the purpose
of concealment, and the generally better supply of flies, insects, and
other food. Your tackle must be very strong, for the larger trout only
are generally taken in this way, and the trees and bushes give them a
good chance, after being hooked, of escaping, by breaking your tackle.

In dibbing you can only use one fly. There should not be more than
a couple of lengths of gut on the line. The gut must be strong, and
so must that to which the fly is attached. Keep a few flies, tied to
thicker gut than you use when throwing the fly.

Whenever you see a place between trees and bushes where a trout is
likely to lie, drop the fly gently, _communicating to it a dancing
movement_. The fly must only just touch the surface, the greatest care
being taken that _not the smallest morsel of the gut touch the water_.
This is most essential to success, for rarely indeed will you rise a
trout by dibbing if he sees the least bit of gut in the stream.

It very frequently happens that you see a trout lying close to the edge
of the stream, or under the shade of a bush. That fish, with care, you
may be certain to rise. Never place yourself before the fish; but,
standing behind him, drop the fly as directed, two or three inches on
one side of his head, and not immediately before him. If you attempt
to drop the fly _before_ him, he will often see the gut, and vanish;
whereas, by dropping it rather on one side, he is not aware of its
approach until it touches the water. Thus he has no time to scrutinise
too closely, for he will rise instantly, lest the fly pass away with
the stream.

I have heard it asserted by very good fishermen, that dibbing ought
not to be performed with the artificial fly, the deception being too
obvious. I have however caught and seen caught many and fine fish by
dibbing with the artificial fly.

In dibbing with the artificial fly, hackles are generally to be
preferred. Any real fly that may be on the water, if of sufficient size
to place on a hook, may be used in this mode of angling.

The flesh-fly will often kill; and the May bug and grasshopper are
excellent baits. These should be thus baited:—Have double hooks, of
various sizes, tied to a length of good strong gut. This gut must have
a loop at one end to attach it to the other gut; which loop must be
formed by _tying with silk, and not by means of a common knot_. To
bait with this, insert the end of the loop or noose at the shoulder
(directly at the back of the head) of the May bug, grasshopper or
fly, and pass it through the body, bringing it out at the tail. Draw
the insect along the gut till the shanks of the hooks _are buried in
his body_, leaving only the points standing out on each side of the
shoulders. The hooks should be of such a size as to extend a little
beyond the bait.

Such I have found to be the neatest and best way of baiting with May
bug, grasshopper, and flesh-fly, or other natural fly of sufficient
size. The green and grey drakes, however, are too tender to be thus
baited. A single hook must therefore be passed through the thickest
part of the body, from side to side. The hook should not be very small,
but have some of the shank broken off, for the shank should be short.

The gut for dibbing should not only be thick and strong, but should be
died a palish blue, which may be thus easily done:—a wineglassful of
common gin, having a teaspoonful of black ink mixed with it, must be
made hot, and when rather cool, but by no means cold, steep the gut
in it until it acquires the depth of colour you wish. The longer it
remains in the mixture, the darker it becomes; but care must be taken
that it be not _too_ black.

       *       *       *       *       *

For information on the subject of fishing trout rivers, streams, and
lakes in the United Kingdom and France, I would refer the reader to
the admirable work of Palmer Hackle, Esq., entitled “Hints on Angling”
(Robinson, 69, Fleet-street), and to that of R. O’Connor, Esq.,
entitled “Field Sports of France” (John Murray, Albemarle-street).
He will there find all the information he can desire, especially
for fishing the numerous and well-stocked trout streams throughout
France. Palmer Hackle agrees with me in the opinions I have expressed
on the subject of artificial flies, and so does a French author, Mr.
Guillemarde, who published a book on fishing in 1857 (Librairie de L.
Hachette and Co., Rue Pierre-Sarazzen, No. 14, Paris). He observes
(page 206) that five or six artificial flies of different sizes
and colours are sufficient, and adds, “I know well that artificial
fly-makers will not be of that opinion, and for a very good reason;
but, independently of my own personal experience, I may refer to that
of experienced professors, disinterested in the matter.”

Very few Frenchmen are artificial fly-fishers. Mr. Guillemarde advises
his countrymen to emulate the English, whom he compliments as _masters_
in the elegant art, which, he says, they practise almost exclusively.
He terms them “admirable fishermen,” but spoils the compliment by
assuring his readers, “the gentlemen of Great Britain fish in white
cravats and kid gloves!”

First-rate fly-fishing may be had in all parts of France, and
especially in the department of the Pas de Calais, in which are
numerous admirable trout streams well stocked with fish, and where
the sport may be enjoyed without interruption. Palmer Hackle, in his
work, observes, “An angler who loves his art as none but anglers can,
and desires to pursue his cherished recreation undisturbed by the
malign influence of game-preservers, and unembittered by the sneers
of money-getting fools, must visit the Continent. There he may roam
unmolested and uncriticised if his deportment be that of a quiet,
sensible man and a gentleman; and his sport will be such as to satisfy
the most sanguine professor.”

This, experience enables me fully to confirm, and it seems to be borne
out by Mr. Guillemarde, who writes: “I speak of artificial fly-fishing,
the most difficult but the most elegant mode of fishing with the line,
and in which the preparation and execution, and the address of the
professor, are most strikingly displayed and exemplified. Artificial
fly-fishing is, at present, but little appreciated, or rather but
little known, in France. Every year amateurs from England gather from
our streams abundant harvests. It is a spectacle at once curious and
humiliating to our national ‘amour propre,’ to observe the astonishment
of most of our river-side inhabitants, endeavouring in vain to
comprehend by what magic art these ‘honourable gentlemen,’ by flogging
the air with their long switches, manage so easily to fill their
baskets. May this little book contribute to popularise in our country
those methods which are at present practised by so few, and which are
equally agreeable and successful.”


FINIS.


B. D. COUSINS, PRINTER, HELMET COURT, STRAND, LONDON.



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