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Title: Red Palmer: A Practical Treatise on Fly Fishing
Author: Tayler, James
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Red Palmer: A Practical Treatise on Fly Fishing" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)


      R. B. LODGE


      Permanent * Portraits


These aim at being not only Portraits, but also Pictures, which show you
engaged in your favourite sport by the side of some pool, or knee deep
in some shallow of your own particular river, the sight of which in
after years will bring back to your memory many pleasant reminiscences
of bygone success.

_Angling Outings and Matches attended by appointment._

      Terms on application to

      R. B. LODGE,
      1, Chase Green Villa,


      +Fishing on the Itchen.+

      TO LET,
      _BY THE DAY,
      WEEK, MONTH,

Apply to

      W. CHALKLEY,

      +Practical Fisherman, And
      Fishing Tackle Maker+,

      +=The Square=+,


      "+Bayonet-Pointed Gaff+"


These Hooks are made of really good steel, carefully hardened and
tempered, and each one separately tested with an opening strain of 56lb.
See notices in _Land and Water_, February 5; +Fishing Gazette+,
February, 12; and _Field_, February 19, 1887.

      No. 1. Length 6in., gape of hook 2in.:     price 4s.

      No. 2.   "    7in.,  "       "   2-1/2in.: price 5s.

      No. 3.   "    8in.,  "       "   3in.:     price 6s.

Also made with long concave shank for binding on handle at 6d. each
extra. To be obtained through all Fishing Tackle dealers and Cutlers, or
of the Makers,

      R. H. BROWNE & CO.,

      Brunswick Street, Well Street, Hackney, London, E.

      _New Illustrated Catalogue (2000 Engravings and Coloured Plate of
      Flies), Post Free, 2d._

Shooting.       Fishing.




      Gun, Rifle, Revolver, and Fishing Tackle Manufacturer.


      =Every Requisite for the Angler.=

      _SPLIT CANE RODS (my own make), a Speciality_,

      (Guaranteed for two years.)





      All Articles of the most Modern and Improved Patterns.



      _Practical Gun, Rifle, Revolver, and Fishing Tackle Manufacturer_,

      131, HIGH HOLBORN, LONDON, W.C.=

      "RED PALMER."



"This unpretentious, yet well written, work contains a large amount of
information, which may be read with advantage by all followers of the
more refined branch of the gentle art."


"Like Piscator's humble friend, the chub, it is 'a good dish of meat,'
and excellent for entering a young angler. Mr. Tayler's views as to
tackle are generally sound and practical. On the subject of flies he
gives excellent advice. We can safely recommend it as a useful manual
for any young aspirant to Fly-Fishing honours."


"The author, in its pages, gives the result of many years' practical
experience of Fly-Fishing, and evidently is no tyro. His work,
therefore, will afford much useful information to those who are in need
of it."


"This capitally written essay on the whole art of Fly-Fishing is from
the pen of Mr. James Tayler, who is recognised throughout the kingdom as
an authority in the sport on which he gives such excellent instruction."




      _PRICE ONE SHILLING; By Post, 1s. 1-1/2d._









      +Published by the Empire Printing and Publishing Co., Lim.+,
      2 and 3, Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, E.C.



+Dear Dr. Brunton+,

I dedicate this little book to you, knowing that you have proved
yourself to be one of the most skilful anglers of the present day; while
all anglers who have the pleasure of your acquaintance know you to be a
most genial and intelligent member of the craft, always ready to promote
its interest, and to communicate the result of your great researches and
experience to your fellow-fishermen.

      Yours faithfully and respectfully,


+To J. Brunton, Esq., M.A., M.D.+


      CHAPTER I.


Having read papers on Fly-fishing before the Gresham and Islington
Angling Societies, and contributed occasional articles to the fishing
periodicals, I have been persuaded by some of the members of those
societies to publish my ideas on the subject, and I now submit them to
the public, premising that the following treatise is neither historic
nor scientific, but simply an endeavour to communicate what nearly fifty
years of practice and careful observation have taught me to consider as
correct principles in a concise and practical form. Trusting that it
will be received as such, and will be of some assistance to young
anglers in cultivating that, which, we are assured by the highest
authority on angling, is "an art worth learning."

In preparing this short treatise I have assumed, what is generally
admitted by fishermen, that catching trout with an artificial fly is the
highest branch of the piscatorial art; for, although some bottom-fishers
and spinners claim that as much skill is required in their branch as is
in fly-fishing, yet I think the palm must be yielded to the fly-fisher.
It differs in many respect from all other kinds. The greatest care must
be taken not to scare the fish, either by the sight of the angler or his
shadow, or by awkwardness in managing the rod, line, and flies. You have
only to watch a fly-fisher and a bottom-fisher a short time to decide
where the greatest skill is required and attained.

I recollect, when a very little boy, having a book, in which there was a
coloured print of a trout, and underneath were these lines--

    "Angler, mind well what you're about,
    If you would catch the cunning trout,"

and I suppose I must have profited by the advice, for in an old diary,
kept by me in 1839, there is a record of my having caught four trout
weighing 7-1/4lbs. when I was thirteen years of age. But those were not
caught with a fly.

The late Mr. Francis Francis, than whom there is no higher authority,
says in one of his books, "There is far greater skill, caution,
patience, and cunning required to delude a brook trout than is thought
of in landing the noblest twenty-pound salmon that ever sailed up Tweed
or Tay." And in further proof of this I will give an extract from that
excellent little book, "Stewart's Practical Angler." The author says:
"Everything combines to render fly-fishing the most attractive of all
branches of the angler's art. The attempt to capture trout, which are
seen to rise at natural flies, is in itself an excitement which no other
method possesses. Then the smallness of the hook and the fineness of the
tackle necessary for success increases the danger of escape, and
consequently the excitement and the pleasure of the capture; and, for
our own part, we would rather hook, play, and capture a trout of a
pound weight with fly, than one of a pound and a half with minnow or
worm, where, the hooks being larger, there is less chance of their
losing their hold, and, the gut being stronger, there is less risk of
its breaking. Artificial fly-fishing is also the cleanest and most
gentlemanly of all the methods of capturing trout. The angler who
practises it is saved the trouble of working with worms, of catching,
keeping alive, or salting minnows, or searching the river's bank for the
natural insect. Armed with a light single-handed rod and a few flies, he
may wander from county to county and kill trout wherever they are to be

In addition to the pleasure and satisfaction experienced in exerting the
faculties necessary to capture the most cunning and cautious of fish,
what can be more delightful in the sweet spring-time than to take one's
rod and stroll away into the green meadows, by the side of the rippling
brook, where the eye is gratified by the trees and hedge-rows which are
putting forth their young leaves; where the sense of smell is refreshed
by innumerable wild flowers and herbs, and where the ear is charmed by
the soft "coo" of the wood pigeon, the tinkling of a distant sheep-bell,
the cry of a partridge to its mate, or the occasional splash of a trout
in the stream, which sounds alone disturb the silence? Well may Walton

    "I was for that time lifted above earth,
    Possessed of joys not promised in my birth."

An all-wise Creator gave man dominion "over the fish of the sea, over
the fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the
earth;" and a very large proportion of the human race, either from
motives of necessity or recreation, exercise the powers thus given them
either in killing or subjugating the lower branches of the animal

Without wishing to detract from other sports, I think Walton was quite
right in claiming for angling a decided preference. In the present day
it is followed by men of all classes, from the nobleman who owns miles
of salmon river to the East-end mechanic or apprentice, who trudges off
to the Lea river on a Sunday morning with his eighteenpenny roach-rod,
and many of whom, but for this angling opportunity, would have no
relaxation from the dull, mill-horse round of their daily lives, save
some kind, perhaps, far more demoralising; but who, by its judicious
indulgence, by breathing the pure air of the country, and by being
brought into contact with beautiful river scenery and animal and
vegetable life, re-invigorate their bodies, exalt their minds, and beget
a state of quiet contentment, patience, and perseverance exceedingly
useful in these days of high-pressure wear-and-tear. Sir Henry Wotton
says of angling, he found it "a cheerer of the spirits, a tranquillizer
of the mind, a calmer of unquiet thoughts, a diverter of sadness."
Ladies, too, ever since the time of Cleopatra, have liked to "betray
tawny-finn'd fishes," and Dame Juliana Berners has shown by her "Boke of
St. Albans" that she had a minute and practical knowledge of "fyshynge
with an angle" far beyond the previous writers on the art; and with the
present rage for out-of-door amusements among the fair sex, fishing has
its votaries, notwithstanding the attractions of croquet and

Having been a fly-fisher many years, I venture to offer a few ideas on
the subject, not with a view to instruct my elder brethren in the art,
but merely to explain some principles that my experience has proved to
be correct, and thereby to save, perhaps, some trouble and loss of time
to young beginners. I am fully aware that no amount of theory without
practice will ever make a fly-fisher, but I am also aware that practice
will become much easier, and be far more likely to prove successful, if
based on a correct theory, than if left to itself.



Various opinions prevail as to wet and dry fishing, and I think in this
matter, if we want to deceive trout, we should follow Nature as closely
as possible. On a dry, quiet day the wings of the natural fly are dry,
and when it falls on the water it takes some time before they become
saturated, and until then it floats on the surface. Imitate this by
giving your artificial fly two or three flicks backwards and forwards
before you finally throw it. You thus shake the water out of it, and it
floats. But on wet or very windy days the natural fly soon becomes wet
with rain, or from the broken surface of the water, and at such times
let the artificial lure sink a few inches beneath the surface, and if
the trout are feeding, fishing in this manner is most deadly. At night I
have generally found wet fly-fishing to answer best, even when there has
been no rain, and I attribute this to the natural flies becoming damp
with dew and thereby sinking. For dry fly-fishing floating flies are now
much used. The great objection to them appears to be the hardness of
their bodies, which is no sooner found by trout to be different to the
natural fly than they blow it out without giving time to strike. I have
found this particularly with cork-bodied May-flies, and prefer the
ordinary body in consequence.

Mr. G. Holland, of Salisbury, makes a speciality of floating flies on
eyed hooks and cobweb gut, which bear an excellent reputation; and my
friend, Mr. R. B. Lodge, has lately invented a floating fly with an
air-tight body, which floats well and does not get water-logged. If he
can make it of a soft material, not liable to be punctured by the
trout's teeth, I think there will be no doubt of its being a great



An important point is to commence with proper tackle, for it is of no
use to attempt to catch trout with a cart-rope tied to a hedge-stake.
First, then, with regard to the Rod. A good rod is the angler's chief
requisite, and extraordinary progress has been made in the art of
manufacturing rods within the last few years.

There are so many excellent makers that it is only necessary to visit
one of them and select a rod suitable to your height, strength, and
fancy, and in this, as in many other respects, fancy goes a long way.
For all ordinary purposes, a rod from ten to twelve feet in length will
be sufficient, and I have generally used those made in four pieces, the
lower three of greenheart, or hickory, and the top of bamboo. It should
be tolerably stiff, for in windy weather it is impossible with a light
whippy-rod to throw against or across the wind and attain any degree of
accuracy. It should be double-brazed, so that the joints may not become
fixed by the swelling of the wood when wet, and the brass joints should
be made slightly tapering, and the whole, when put together, should
taper regularly from butt to point, and when held horizontally should be
stiff enough to lie almost level. It should, of course, be fitted with
small brass rings for the line to run through, which, if placed at
proper distances, divide the strain equally, keep the line snug, and
prevent entanglements.

Another matter of apparently trifling importance, but really very
essential, is, that near the ends of each length of the rod, and being
parallel with it, should be a small brass loop or hitcher, tied on with
fine binding wire. Before commencing to fish, pass a piece of thread or
twist round each two of these loops, and tie the joints firmly together;
this will prevent them from slipping, which is often the cause of losing
a good fish or breaking the rod. After the season is over, clean the rod
with very fine emery powder, then let it lie in a trough filled with oil
for a day or two, and after it has been out of the oil long enough for
the surface to get dry, give it a couple of coats of clear carriage
varnish, and put it away for the winter.

Split-cane rods appear to be much on the increase, but they are rather
expensive. It may be, perhaps, from having been accustomed for many
years to greenheart that I do not take readily to the light, springing
motion of cane. This lightness is somewhat modified by the use of steel
centres, but unless they can be made much cheaper than at present, which
I think doubtful, the price will be a great hindrance to their coming
into general use.

There were some splendid rods in the last Sportsmen's Exhibition, and
the man must be very hard to please who could not find one to his taste
there. Among them all, the best I could see for usefulness, at a
moderate price, was a little rod called the "Hotspur," built by Messrs.
Hardy, of Alnwick. It is made of greenheart, in two lengths, and only
ten feet long, but wonderfully powerful as well as pliant, and is fitted
with a spiral joint fastening, which renders the tying above recommended



Now, as to the reel. Notwithstanding that some of the books on fishing
call the multiplying reel an abomination, I always prefer one; finding
that when you hook a fish it is very desirable to have the means of
winding in the slack line quickly should he come towards you. I have
used a two-inch brass multiplier some years, and never, to my knowledge,
lost a fish by its inaction. The revolving plate is a great improvement
on the old windlass.

Messrs. Foster, of Ashbourne, are making an improved winch with a male
screw to fit into the female thread at the butt of the rod, where the
spear is usually fixed. This is a great advantage, as the liability to
get the line entangled is not so great as with a side winch, and it also
enables the angler to make more of the length of his rod by grasping it
lower down.

The best line I know of is the "Acmé," also made by Messrs. Foster. It
is constructed of plaited silk, with a very fine strand of annealed
copper wire running through it. The wire gives a little weight and
stiffness to the line, so that it does not kink or knot up so readily as
one made of all silk, while it is about half the size of the
old-fashioned line made of mixed silk and hair. With this line much
more accurate casting can be made than with one of all silk; and the
late David Foster, the inventor of it, says that by using it he
increased the length of his throw from 29-1/2yds. to 32-1/2yds. with a
single-handed fly rod. But this is extraordinary casting, such as few
can accomplish. At the Casting Tournament, held at Hendon five years
ago, I saw 30yds. 6in. thrown. Anyone who can throw a fly 25yds., clean
and straight, and pitch it within a yard of the object aimed at, may
consider himself a pretty good hand. Where one can do it, ninety-nine

The gut or casting line should be moderately stout at the upper part,
and tapered down to the point, and if stained of a dull blue or green
colour is less likely to be seen than when quite white.

I always make up my own casts by picking out suitable lengths of gut and
tying them together by a fisherman's knot, and if anything gives way I
have no one but myself to blame. In cutting off the ends of the gut do
not cut them quite close to the knot, but leave just sufficient to take
hold of with a pair of tweezers. Flatten out the ends by pinching them;
you thus prevent the knot from drawing, and it need not be clumsy. It is
far more economical to use the best gut that can be obtained than to
whip off your flies, or lose a fish, by having a cheaper article.

The whole--rod, running line and casting line, wholly and
separately--should taper from one end to the other, and should be in
thorough proportion to each other, and nothing but experience will
enable one how to ascertain when this is so. If the rod is too stiff for
the line you cannot deliver the latter properly, and if the line is too
heavy for the rod you run the risk of breaking the rod's back; while,
if the gut is too heavy for the line, it will pitch all in a heap, and,
of course, scare the fish.

Flies are commonly made with a loop at the end of the gut, to be passed
through a corresponding loop at the end of the casting line. A much
neater plan is to cut off the loops, or buy your flies without them, and
tie the two ends together as above described.

Flies tied on eyed hooks are a great improvement on the old style. They
are more easily packed, not having that awkward coil of gut attached to
them, which is always so difficult to manage in a book, and which is
almost certain to result in the loss of some flies on a windy day. They
can be readily attached and detached when necessary, and are lighter and
float better, and there is not that friction of the gut at the most
important point, as with flies tied on gut. I have frequently found when
fishing that the fly I particularly wished to use on clear water was
tied on stout gut for rough water, and was larger than my gut cast above
it. This is wrong in principle, but with eyed hooks gut to suit the
water could easily be tied on.

Never go out without a landing-net. The most convenient is that with a
telescopic handle and folding ring. Near the upper end of the outside
part of the handle should be a brass spring hook, to slip over the strap
which crosses your chest towards the left side. When you hook a fish,
you can, without moving the right hand from the rod, lift the
landing-net off with the left hand and throw out the handle ready for
use. A pair of waterproof wading-boots or stockings, a good
pocket-knife, a piece of india-rubber, with which to straighten the gut,
a wicker creel, and something to eat, drink, and smoke, and you are
equipped for a day's sport, with the exception of flies, of which I
shall next treat.

      CHAPTER V.


There is no subject on which anglers differ so much as to what
assortment of flies is necessary. Some will carry as many as a hundred
sorts in their book, while a few, following Mr. Cholmondely Pennell, are
content with three nondescripts of quite an unnatural appearance, and
pretend they can catch as many fish as the man who goes prepared with a
larger quantity. Walton names _nine_, beside caterpillars; and Cotton
mentions _sixty-nine_; while Ronald, in his splendid work, describes
very many more to choose from. David Foster speaks of _thirty-one_. My
experience has taught me that about _twenty_ are necessary and
sufficient for all ordinary purposes. In calm weather and smooth water
one fly at a time is enough; but in rain, wind, or broken water, two,
three, or even four flies may be used with advantage, as you give the
fish a variety to choose from, and can thereby find out which kind they
are taking, and adapt your cast to their taste.

The fly nearest the rod is called the "first drop," the next the "second
drop," and so on, and the farthest from the rod the "stretcher." The
last drop should be about 20in. from the stretcher, and the other drops
12in. or 14in. apart. When it is thought desirable to use more than one
fly, bend the loop of your drop fly round one of the knots in the
casting-line, and pass the drop through the loop thus bent and draw it
tight. The drop fly will thus stand at right angles with the
casting-line, and should be about 3in. from it, and the trout will not
be likely to come in contact with the line when seizing the fly.

It does not very often happen that you hook two trout at a time, and
after you have hooked them, the difficulty is to get them both into the
landing-net, as they dart about in divers directions; but I succeeded in
hooking and landing two at a time on three occasions in the summer of
1881. In such cases get the fish on the stretcher into the net first.
Two at a time necessitates good tackle and very careful handling. When
one can accomplish this difficult feat, with two trout of a pound weight
each, he may consider himself a fly-fisher.

Artificial flies should represent, in size, shape, and colour, as nearly
as possible the natural flies which frequent the water you are fishing.

On examining the following selection it will be found that the natural
flies are chiefly represented by three colours--green, yellow, and
brown; and, although Mr. Pennell was so far right, the general
appearance of natural flies must also be imitated, if you would achieve
success. I do not hold it necessary to follow minutely every colour, or
the exact shape of the natural fly, because nine out of every ten fish
caught seize the fly immediately it alights on the water, and sometimes
even before it touches; therefore they cannot have time to study very
particularly every detail of the lure thus suddenly presented to them,
but, seeing something apparently resembling what they are feeding on,
dash at it instantaneously, and find out the mistake when it is too
late. What is of far greater importance than the exact representation of
the natural fly is, that when the artificial falls on the water there
should be nothing else occurring at the same time to scare the fish. The
motion of the arm, the flash of the rod, the bungling of the
casting-line, or pitching the fly on the water in an unnatural manner,
all tend to make trout rise short, or not rise at all.

In determining what colours to use it is desirable to look at both
natural and artificial specimens through water from underneath, as they
then appear quite different to what they do when viewed out of water.
The late John Hammond, of Winchester, designer of the Hammond's Adopted
and Wickham's Fancy, once showed me this through a clear-bottomed

The following list of flies will be found in the greater part of the
United Kingdom, although they may be called by different names in
different localities, the chief variation being in size rather than
colour or shape; and it is always desirable to use artificial flies of
the size of the natural ones which are to be found in the locality you
are fishing:--

_Red Spinner_, _March Brown_, _Blue Dun_, _Alder Fly_, _Hofland's
Fancy_, _Stone Fly_, _Grannum_, _Wickham's Fancy_, _Oak Fly_, _Sedge_,
_Green Drake_, _Grey Drake_, _Coachman_, _Black Palmer_, _Red Palmer_,
_Coch-y-bonddhu_, _Red Ant_, _July Dun_, _Black Gnat_, _White Moth_.

I am convinced that, with the above assortment of flies, there are not
many days in the season but that one or other of them will do
execution, and there is seldom a day that trout do not rise at some time
or other in it, unless the water be too thick for them to see the fly.
As I am writing for the average fly-fisher, who need not waste the time
or take the trouble to make his own flies, I will not attempt to
describe the manner of making them, believing that it is much better to
visit a good tackle shop and get what is required; yet I think it
desirable to show of what materials they should be composed, in order
that he may know what are the most killing sorts, and how to distinguish
them in ordering.

      +February and March.+

1. _The Red Spinner._--Body, brown silk, ribbed with fine gold twist;
tail, two fibres of a red cock's hackle; wings, of some transparent
brown feather.

2. _March Brown, or Brown Drake._--This, like the other drakes, is a
great favourite with trout in its season, which is during March and
April, and it may also be used in the autumn. Body, orange-coloured silk
or deep straw colour, on which wind fur from a hare's poll; legs, a
honey-dun hackle; wings, to stand erect, of the top of the light or
inner fibres of the feather of the hen pheasant's wing; tail, two fibres
of the same feather. Rib with gold twist for your tail fly, and let the
droppers be without any twist.

The above is "Ephemera's" way of making it, but Mr. Ronalds says: "Body,
fur of the hare's face ribbed over with olive silk and tied with brown
silk; tail, two strands of a partridge's feather; wings, feather of the
pheasant's wing; legs, a feather from the back of a partridge."

3. _Blue Dun._--Body, of the hare's ear, dark and yellow part mixed with
a little yellow mohair, the whole to be spun on yellow silk; wings, from
a feather of the starling's wing stained in onion dye; tail, two
whiskers of a rabbit; legs, to be picked out of the dubbing at the thick
part near the wings.

4. _Alder Fly._--Body, dark claret-coloured fur; upper wings, red fibre
of the landrail's wing, or red tail feather of the partridge; lower
wings, of the starling's wing feather; legs, dark red hackle; horns and
tail, of fibres the colour of the legs, the horns to be shorter than the
body of the fly, but the tail a little longer.

5. _Hofland's Fancy._--Body, reddish dark brown silk; wings, woodcock's
wing; legs, red hackle; tail, two strands of a red hackle.


6. _Stone Fly._--Body, fur from hare's ear mixed with yellow worsted and
spun on yellow silk; tail, two strands of partridge feather; wings,
pheasant's quill feather from wings; legs, greenish brown hackle.

7. _Grannum, or Green-Tail._--"Ephemera" says: "The grannum is a
four-winged fly, and as it swims down the water its wings lie flat on
the back. It has a small bunch of eggs of a green colour at the tail end
of the body, which gives it the name of the green-tail fly. As soon as
it alights on the water it drops its eggs." It is dressed as follows:--

Body, fur of hare's face left rough and spun on brown silk. A little
green floss silk may be worked in at the tail, to represent the bunch
of eggs there. Wings, feather from that of the partridge, and made very
full; legs, a pale ginger hen's hackle. Made buzz with a feather from
the back of a partridge's neck, wound upon the above body.

8. _Wickham's Fancy._--Wings, light starling; body, flat gold ribbed
with fine gold wire; hackle and whisk, bright red gamecock. This is one
of the best general flies, and is a standing favourite in the south of
England; and I have it on the authority of the late John Hammond that he
made it under the direction of Dr. Wickham, of Winchester--hence its

      +May and June.+

9. _Oak Fly, or Down-Looker._--It is generally found on the trunks of
oak trees by the river-side, with its head pointing downwards, and is a
very useful fly.

"Ephemera" recommends it to be dressed as follows: "Body, yellow mohair,
ribbed regularly with dark brown silk; legs, a honey dun hackle wound
thrice under the wings, which are to lie flat and short, and to be made
of the wing feather of a young partridge or hen pheasant. To be tipped
with pale gold twist."

10. _Sedge._--Wings, wing of landrail; body, white floss silk ribbed
with silver wire; hackle, ginger cock's hackle down the body.

11. _The May-fly, or Green Drake_, is not only a very beautiful fly, but
one of the most captivating that is used, and, as I have stated
elsewhere, it requires special manipulation. On a windy dull day, in the
middle of the May-fly season, when there are not many natural flies out,
it will very soon fill the basket, particularly if the water is
turbulent. "Ephemera" says: "This famous fly is the opprobrium of
fly-makers. Try how they will they cannot, in my opinion, imitate it
well. The wings are their greatest foil. In making the body they succeed
tolerably well. Still, the best imitation is defective, and, except upon
rare occasions, the artificial May-fly is not a deadly bait." My
experience has been the very contrary of this. Whether it is from the
fly-tiers having succeeded in imitating the natural fly since "Ephemera"
wrote, or not, I do not know, but I have before me two specimens tied by
Mrs. Ogden that I make no doubt would bring me ten or a dozen brace of
trout on a good day in the season. May-flies are often made with cork
bodies, but I am not partial to them, for the same objection which
applies generally to floating flies, viz.: that trout find they have
something hard and unnatural in their mouths, and immediately reject it.
On a dry bright day use it as a dry fly, but on a very wet or windy day
fish with it a few inches under the surface, and, as Walton says, you
will have "store of trouts." On one occasion last season I caught ten
brace of trout with one May-fly obtained of Messrs. Alfred and Son, and
have it by me now, but there is not a vestige of wing left, all having
been bitten off. Mr. Ronalds recommends it to be dressed as follows:
"Body, the middle part of a pale straw-coloured floss silk, ribbed with
silver twist; extremities (head and tail), brown peacock's harl, tied
with light brown silk thread; tail, three rabbit's whiskers; wings and
legs, made buzz with a mottled feather of the mallard, stained olive."
Instead of the bodies being made of straw-coloured silk they are now
frequently made of strips of wheat straw.

12. _Grey Drake._--This is said to be a metamorphosis of the green
drake, or female changing to a male. Dress it thus: Body, the middle
part of white floss silk, ribbed over neatly with silver twist;
extremities, brown peacock's harl; wings and legs made buzz with a
mottled feather of the mallard, stained a faint purple; legs, three
rabbit's whiskers.

13. _The Coachman._--Body, peacock's harl, full and short; wings, fibres
of any small white feather; legs, a turn or two of a red hackle. Mr.
Blaine remarks: "Throughout the summer months, as an early evening fly,
and until twilight, it proves most valuable in the midland counties, and
the bordering ones within eighty miles of London. On the Colne, and
throughout its course, in the Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and Devonshire
waters, where we have been for many years in the habit of using it, in
our opinion there is no fly to at all equal it."

14. _Black Palmer._--Body, black ostrich harl, ribbed with gold twist,
black cock's hackle wound over the whole.

15. _Red Palmer._--Body, dark red-coloured mohair, with a richly-tinted
red fur intermixed, to be ribbed with gold or silver twist; legs, a
blood-red cock's hackle. Or, body, a peacock harl with a red cock's
hackle wrapped over it, and tied with dark brown silk thread.

I have used the Red Palmer in all weathers and seasons for nearly fifty
years, and believe it to be the best general fly there is, although,
strictly speaking, not a fly, but an imitation of the caterpillar, or
larva of the tiger moth. Having had such success with it I have adopted
its name as my _nom de plume_, and as the title of this little book.


16. _Coch-y-bonddhu._--Body, black ostrich harl, twisted with peacock's
harl, and made with red silk thread; the wings and legs made buzz with a
dark furnace hackle.

17. _Red Ant._--Body, copper coloured peacock's harl, full near the
wings and tail; wings, a lark's wing feather; legs, red cock's hackle.

18. _July Dun._--Body, mole's fur and pale yellow mohair mixed, and spun
on yellow silk; wings, dark part of a feather from the starling's wing,
stained dark in strong onion dye; legs, dark dun hackle; tail, the two
flies of the hackle.


19. _Black Gnat._--Body, one of the smallest feathers of the green
plover's top-knot, or of a black harl, to be dressed short; wings, the
darkest fibres of an old starling's wing feather.

20. _White Moth._--Wings, white pigeon's feather; body, white crewel;
legs, white hen's hackle.

Although I have classified these flies under the different months, it
does not follow by any means that they will kill only in the months
named; on the contrary, some of them may be used month after month,
particularly the hackle flies, which may be used almost through the

I exhibited samples of the above kinds in my lecture to the Gresham and
Islington Angling Societies, showing the relative sizes and colours.
These samples were selected from the stock of Messrs. Alfred and Son, of
Moorgate Street, where I generally obtain what I require, and find their
flies are to be depended on. As with gut, so with flies, it is false
economy to buy the cheapest. It requires a deal of patience at times
before you can hook a fish; and, after you have been so fortunate, it is
terribly annoying to find the gut draw, and leave the fly in its mouth.
To guard against this, _burn all your old flies at the end of the
season_, except one or two of a sort for patterns, and this is another
reason why you should not have a heavy stock; and take care, in buying
your new stock at the spring of the year, that you get new, and not
those of the previous year.

In tying gut to the hook, a little varnish generally touches the gut,
and at this most critical point the varnish hardens the gut and causes
it to snap. This, of course, does not occur with eyed hooks, but even
with them it is better to have new flies than old, as the colours are
fresher and the tying more secure.

Messrs. Ogden and Scotford, the well-known firm of Cheltenham, have
lately sent me a few samples of their flies, tied by Mrs. Ogden, who has
long enjoyed a very high reputation for her tying. They are beautifully
made, and I have no doubt will prove good killers; but, as the season is
now over, have had no opportunity of trying them.



So much for the tackle to be used in fly-fishing, and, being thus
provided, in what way should the tyro go to work? The first point to be
considered is, Should he fish up stream or down? Old Father Izaak says,
"fish down stream," but he was not much of a fly-fisher, and I cannot
help thinking that if he had lived in the present day he would have seen
fit to alter his opinion in this respect. Fish, like human beings, have
advanced in education since that time, and, if you want to catch a
trout, get behind him. I caught a large trout about eight years ago in
clear smooth water, where I did not much expect to catch one, and on
examining him I found that he had only one eye, and I had got on the
blind side and pitched over him. The advantages of fishing up stream
appear to me so great that I can hardly believe any good fly-fisher can
hold a contrary opinion; but, lest I should seem prejudiced, I will give
some reasons for my faith. The trout always lies with its head up
stream, waiting for the food to come down, and if you approach it from
the rear you are not so likely to be seen as when approaching it face to
face. Again, the natural fly floats down stream, and by throwing up and
letting the artificial float down you imitate the motion of the natural
fly, taking care to raise the point of the rod as the fly approaches
you, so as not to have any slack line out, for if you have, you cannot
strike properly. Another reason is, that if while fishing _up_ a trout
rises, when you strike you will in all probability hook it in the side
of the mouth as it turns; but when fishing _down_, if you strike, the
motion tends to draw the fly out of the fish's mouth, and he does not
lose much time in getting rid of it if found not to his taste, and then

    "The trout within yon wimplin burn
      Glides swift, a silver dart,
    And, safe beneath the shady thorn,
      Defies the angler's art."

Another important matter to consider is the direction of the wind.
Always, if you can, fish with the wind behind you, or, at all events, so
that you can throw across it; but, if you must make a choice of evils,
choose the lesser, and fish _up_ stream and _against_ the wind, rather
than _down_ stream and _with_ the wind. In considering which side of the
river to fish, do not, if you can help it, fish from that side whence
the sun would cast your shadow on the water, as nothing is more alarming
to trout. It is impossible, in a short treatise like the present, to
give such instruction in throwing the fly as will make the tyro an
adept. It is desirable to practise throwing with both the right and left
sweep, as by changing from one to the other you avoid getting into the
bad habit of twisting the rod, which would assuredly warp and spoil it;
and by practising short throws with the left hand you will be able to
give the right arm a few minutes' rest occasionally, a great relief in
a long day's fishing.

My advice is, to commence with a short line, and when you find that you
can deliver the line so as to be prepared to hook a fish as soon as the
fly touches the water, gradually increase the length, taking care never
to attempt to throw more than you can send out clean and straight,
without disturbing the water. But more can be learnt in this respect by
an hour's practice with an old hand, than by any amount of theory. The
great points are to keep well out of sight, and to imitate the descent
of the natural fly on the water, which in the case of the smaller flies
is as soft and gentle as a piece of thistle-down; but with the larger
ones, such as the drakes and moths, whose bodies are heavy in proportion
to the size of their wings, compared with other flies, let them fall
with a slight spat on the water, causing a ring to take place on the
surface, and letting the fish know it is there.



Considerable discussion has taken place in the angling papers from time
to time as to the proper time for striking a fish; and three or four
years since some extraordinary calculations were made with regard to the
period that should elapse before striking, and for the motion from the
arm to reach the hook. My opinion, as expressed in the "Angler's
Journal" at that time, and lately repeated in "Fishing," is as follows:
"As soon as you become aware, either by sight, sound, or feeling, that a
fish has risen, put the hook in him." But you must be careful not to
strike too hard, or you will either tear the hook out, or snap the gut,
and thus lose the fish. It should only be a slight twitch, given from
the wrist, as quick as thought, just enough to drive the hook in beyond
the barb, but not enough to tear the flesh out. I have often amused
myself by feeding trout, and have noticed that, after they have taken
several pieces, say of bread or paste, if I threw in something like it
in appearance, such, for instance, as a small white stone, they would
seize it, and, finding the substance different, instantly blow it out
again. It is reasonable to assume that they would do the same with an
artificial fly, particularly those having cork bodies; therefore you
cannot strike too quickly. But, as this is a branch of the subject on
which great differences of opinion exist, I will here quote some eminent
angling authorities in support of my views.

_Francis Francis_ says: "If a fish rises, a slight upward turn of the
wrist will be sufficient to fix the hook. As for giving any direct rules
when to strike, they would be of little avail, as sometimes fish rise
quickly, sometimes with more circumspection, and sometimes altogether
falsely." Next, _Cummins_: "When a trout takes your fly do not strike
too hard; more fish are lost by anglers striking when using small flies
than are secured by such means. The line tightened is sufficient in most
cases, particularly in fishing streams." In "Fishing" of March 31st last
I say: "I agree that in rapid stream fishing there is no necessity for
striking." _Ephemera_ also advises that, "The moment you see, and then
feel, a rise, strike gently from the wrist." _Blaine_ also writes to the
same effect. _Stewart_, in the "Practical Angler," has the following
passage: "A difference of opinion exists as to whether trout should be
struck on rising; but, in common with the majority of anglers, we
advocate immediate striking. When a trout takes a fly it shuts its
mouth, and if the angler strikes then he is almost sure to bring the
hook into contact with the closed jaws. We have frequently watched the
motions of trout on taking a fly, and when left to do with it as they
chose, they very quickly expelled it from their mouths with considerable
force; and we think that, if the angler strikes, even when the trout's
mouth is open, he will have a much better chance than by leaving it to
hook itself. A trout on seizing an artificial fly is almost
instantaneously aware that it is a counterfeit, and never attempts to
swallow it; very frequently letting it go before the angler has time to
strike, so that it is of the utmost importance to strike immediately,
and this is the reason why a quick eye and a ready hand are considered
the most necessary qualifications for a fly-fisher." _Foster_, in the
"Scientific Angler" says: "The action requisite is a short quick
wrist-motion, commenced sharply but ended almost instantly and abruptly,
like a quick movement of the hand in bringing a foil in fencing from
_tierce_ to _carte_." It is impossible to strike too quick, but it is
quite possible to strike too hard.

All the above opinions are based on the supposition that a fish _has
risen_. It is not very often that a trout is seen in the act of rising,
but should it be, of course sufficient time must be given for it to
reach the fly, then strike at once. When you find that you have hooked
your fish, be prepared for its rush, and then comes the time when all
your patience, experience, and lightness of hand, are called into
requisition. Let the fish have its head a little at first, taking care
to steer it clear of weeds, bushes, and sunken obstacles in the water,
and then give it a slight pressure from the rod, in addition to the
friction of the line which it is dragging through the water; and if you
can get it down stream, so as not to disturb the fish above, so much the
better. When you have got it down stream, and under command, do not be
in too great a hurry to land it, for sometimes when you think it is
spent it will make a sudden dart, and you lose it. Give it plenty of
time to tire itself out, then put the landing net quietly into the
water, slip it under the fish, and lift it out. Then put the thumb of
your right hand into its mouth, with the fingers at the back of its
head, and press the upper jaw back until its spine is broken. This is
far better than letting the fish flop about and discolour itself in the



Having explained the apparatus necessary for catching trout, the next
part of my subject appears to be the time _when_ to go fishing, and one
important point is the weather. Notwithstanding what some writers have
said about catching trout in an east wind, I do not believe in it. With
a wind from the South, West, or South-west, and a dull or showery day,
one may fairly expect success; but to go out on a bright clear day, with
wind from the North or East, is, in my opinion, neither pleasant nor
profitable. I have done it many times when I had less experience, though
not more enthusiasm, than at present, but I seldom do it now. An old
song says:

    "A Southerly wind and a cloudy sky
      Proclaim a hunting morning;"

and they also tell the fly-fisher when to be off to the river. I should
not be doing justice to this part of my subject if I were not to allude
to the fly-fisher's carnival, the May-fly season. From about the last
week in May till the middle of June is the time above all others to
catch trout. I have frequently caught five or six brace in a couple of
hours during this short season; but as soon as it is over I put away the
rod for a few days, for, the fish being fairly glutted with the natural
fly, do not care much for the artificial after the former is gone,
although it will sometimes happen that on a rough, dull day, you can
have good sport for a week or ten days afterwards.

The length of the May-fly season depends greatly on the weather. It
generally lasts about three weeks; but the present season (1888) has
been exceptionally wet and cold, and the flies were only hatched at long
and irregular intervals, owing to the absence of sun. Consequently the
season extended from the second or third day of June till the second
week of July. On the 11th of June last I was fishing with a May-fly and
a small Soldier-palmer for drop, my usual custom, and was struck by the
difference of the manner in which fish rose at the two flies. The rise
at the May-fly was bold and decisive, but without undue haste, whilst
that at the Palmer was a sudden swish, without giving time to strike. I
can only account for this by the circumstance that the natural May-fly
is longer on the water than the Palmer before it gets water-logged and
sinks, and the fish therefore know that they can take their time about
it. The stream was very difficult to fish, and I lost a great many fish
as well as flies from getting entangled in the bushes; nevertheless I
succeeded in landing twelve brace of trout, besides some returned.

Next, as to the time of day. The most preferable times are from about 8
a.m. till noon, and after 4 p.m. till midnight. In many trout clubs
there is a rule prohibiting fishing after half-past nine; but, if you
are not restricted in that respect, you will find that the largest fish
are taken from sunset till ten or eleven o'clock. The only justification
for late fishing is that the very large trout, which often attain their
great size from preying on their own species, then come out of their
hiding-places and chase the small fry up and down the shallows. These
cannibalistic old gentlemen, who do more harm than good in a trout
stream, do not usually rise at a fly, and can only be caught with a live
bait or worm, or by night fishing with a sunk fly, and the end justifies
the means. White or brown moths are the favourites. I had some moths
made specially large, on strong gut, for late fishing, but found it
advisable to use a short line and only one fly, and to get the fish into
the landing-net as soon as possible, for it is awkward work to land a
big fish after dark, particularly if you are hampered with weeds or



A knowledge of the habits of trout is very essential, and this knowledge
can only be acquired by careful observation. The largest fish are
generally to be found where they can obtain the best supply of
food--such points as just below sharp bends of the stream, behind large
stones or other obstructions, at the head or tail of deep pools, and on
the margin of swift currents, or under overhanging banks; and, if you
take a good fish at any particular spot, you will probably find, a day
or two afterwards, that the next best fish in that locality has taken
the place of the one you captured. It has often occurred to me that
there are several reasons why brook trout do not thrive in the lower
part of rivers communicating with the sea. One thing is, to my mind,
very certain--they do not feel at home in salt, or even brackish, water,
and do not seek it of their own accord. Having lived many years within
sight of a point where a fresh water stream flows into salt water, I
have had perhaps exceptional opportunities of observing them, and
forming an opinion on the subject; and, although I have lately seen an
apparently well-supported contrary opinion strongly expressed, I am not
yet convinced, thinking that probably some error may have crept in as to
the kind of fish, or some disturbing cause taken place in the state of
the water. Occasionally they get washed down by floods, or by the
breaking away or uplifting of hatches or gates; but, as soon as the rush
of water subsides, they begin to work their way up again, and if there
is an obstacle to their ascending, such as a weir or mill, they are sure
to be found close up to it, having got as far as they can. They always
seem prompted by instinct to work upwards into shallow rapid water,
where the bottom is gravelly, and, I believe, for the following reasons:
They can there deposit and cover up their ova, and, when hatched, the
young fry can get protection among it from their numerous enemies in
their early days; and, although food may be plentiful in muddy sluggish
streams near salt water, it is not of the kind that trout delight in.
Larva, flies, and minnows abound in clear bright streams, and there the
trout can clean themselves from their parasites, and, with healthy
bodies and abundance of the food they enjoy, come into condition early,
and become lusty and strong.

In the breeding time they, like many other animals, lose their usual
caution and shyness, and when performing their natural functions seem to
take no notice of what is passing around them; and thus very many of the
best fish are captured in shallow water, and the streams almost
depopulated. The greatest vigilance should be exercised in the spawning
time to prevent poachers, both human and others, from preying upon them.
In addition to men, swans, ducks, otters, herons, pike, perch, &c., &c.,
all prey on the luckless trout and its ova and fry, and the wonder is
that the stock is so well maintained as it is. Otters and herons in
particular appreciate this dainty, and either of them will travel across
country many miles to get to a well-stocked trout stream. So strong is
the instinct of the trout to get into shallow streams to deposit their
spawn, that they will leap waterfalls several feet in height, or wriggle
up over gravel where there is not half enough water to cover them, and
where it is frequently impossible for them to get back again, and there
they are often destroyed.

      CHAPTER X.


Having spoken of the _how_ and _when_, next comes the _where_; and under
this head I feel bound, in the interests of friends, not to describe,
other than in very general terms, the localities where good fishing is
to be had. Walton, from frequently visiting Winchester, where his
remains lie, and where a statue of him has lately been erected by
anglers, (the movement for which I had the honour of starting), was
doubtless well acquainted with Hampshire--or, as he quaintly calls it,
"Hantshire,"--which, he says, "exceeds all England for its swift,
shallow, clear, pleasant brooks, and store of trouts." In his will he
mentions part of his books as being at Droxford (about eleven miles from
Winchester), where it is presumed he resided occasionally. I know no
better trout stream than that in this locality. Many a basket of goodly
trout have I had from it in days gone by. It was near here that I caught
the two large trout at one time, before alluded to.

I suppose at the present time the Avon, the Test, and the Itchen are
unsurpassed in the United Kingdom. All the north, or what is commonly
called the _upper_, part of Hampshire, forms part of the south-western
edge of the basin of the Thames, and is drained into it by the Wey, the
Enborn, and the Blackwater. The district east of Alton and north of the
South Downs is drained by the Rother, which is a tributary of the river
Arun, and discharges into the English Channel, near Arundel, in Sussex.
In all these rivers, springing out of the chalk hills, there is good
trout fishing, but not equal to that on the south side of the South
Downs, where the country, sloping away to the southward and westward,
either drains into the Solent or the river Avon; and it is to these
southern rivers and streams that Walton more particularly alluded. The
Test, or Anton, rises in the neighbourhood of Andover and Whitchurch,
and falls into the Southampton Water to the westward of the town of
Southampton, while the Itchen, rising near Alresford, and passing
Winchester and Bishopstoke, discharges into Southampton Water to the
eastward of the town. The Avon, entering Hampshire from Wiltshire, and
passing Fordingbridge and Ringwood, discharges into Christchurch Bay,
where the Stour also empties itself. There are also several smaller
streams rising south of the hills which stretch from Winchester to
Petersfield, and discharge themselves into the Solent. All these streams
are well stocked with trout, and some of them contain roach, perch,
pike, and grayling, and the larger ones also salmon. If greater
facilities were given to salmon to ascend they would doubtless do so, as
they are occasionally caught in stake nets while working their way along
the south coast, evidently in search of rivers, up which to ascend for
the purpose of spawning. But the river proprietors do not provide means
for the salmon to go upwards, it being generally considered that salmon
and trout do not thrive well together, and that if the breeding of
salmon was encouraged it would be at the expense of the trout fisheries.

Nearly all these Hampshire rivers are strictly preserved, and some of
those in the vicinity of Andover, Stockbridge, Houghton, and Winchester
are in the hands of first-class clubs, the subscriptions to which are
high, and access difficult. Still, there are a few pieces of free water
at Winchester, Bishopstoke, and Romsey; and Mr. Currell and Mr.
Chalkley, both of Winchester, rent considerable portions of the river
there, and issue season and day tickets. At Bishopstoke, where there is
some splendid trout and grayling fishing, season and day tickets are now
being issued by the proprietor of a large estate, who has hitherto
preserved very highly, and would scarcely allow his own friends to fish;
and several instances have come to my knowledge lately where landed
proprietors, only able to obtain a reduced income from their farms, have
been glad to supplement it by making a few pounds annually out of their
fishing. So that, to the angler as well as the land owner, agricultural
distress is not an unmitigated evil. And if more attention was paid to
the stocking and preserving of rivers, the incomes of landed proprietors
might be considerably increased, and a very important addition made to
the food of the country. The Avon, at Ringwood, in the New Forest, about
100 miles S.W. of London, has some good salmon, trout and grayling
fishing, and also very fine roach and perch. Day tickets can be obtained
of the hotel keepers. The Beaulieu river, the tidal portion of which is,
of course, free, is noted, not only for its coarse fish, but also for
quantities of sea-trout that frequent it in the autumn months.

Fishermen have increased so rapidly in the last few years that those who
have fishing rights take care of them, and where one could formerly go
unchallenged, he now has to ask permission for a day, and very often may
consider himself lucky if he gets it. There are now about 180 angling
societies in and around London, consisting of nearly 5,000 members,
besides a large number of anglers who do not belong to any society;
consequently fish have been becoming more and more scarce year after
year, and the increase of population and pollution of rivers have also
tended to drive them away. But, in order to supply to some extent the
deficiency, artificial breeding has become very general. The National
Piscicultural Society breed and distribute immense numbers of young
trout every year. Greater efforts are also being made than formerly to
prevent poaching, the destruction of undersized fish, and taking them
when out of season; therefore, the prospects of anglers are beginning to
look brighter.

In describing the _where_ to go fishing, I have alluded more
particularly to Hampshire, not only because it is the best part of
England for trout, but because it also happens to be the county with
which I am best acquainted.

Throughout the whole of the county, fishing for trout with anything but
an artificial fly is considered unsportsmanlike, and is strictly
prohibited in all the clubs.

Still, there are many other localities where, if the angler does not
mind going farther afield, good trout fishing can be obtained. For
instance, Scotland and Wales, where, from the hilly conformation of the
country, the streams are rapid and therefore suitable for trout;
Devonshire, where the trout are small, but very numerous; the
neighbourhood of the Peak, in Derbyshire, than which there is none much
better; the upper portions of the Thames and Lea and their
tributaries--all these are worth the fly-fisher's attention, and many of
them will repay him for the time and trouble spent in visiting them.



When fishing in Hampshire some ten or twelve years ago, a moorhen came
out of some bushes near me and rushed down the brook, with its feet just
trailing along on the surface. As it was going over my line I gave a
twitch and hooked it in the under part of the foot, where the skin is as
tough as leather. Then I had a lively time for about twenty minutes, up
and down, in and out; but my tackle was good, and I handled the rod
carefully, till at length the bird was pretty well tired, and got in
among some bushes, and a friend who was with me went into the water and
got it into the landing-net. I preserved it and had it mounted.

On another occasion I saw a rat swimming across the stream, and pitched
my fly just beyond him and hooked him firmly. Of course he dived, but
could not get away from me, and at last came ashore into the long grass
where I was standing. It was nearly dark and I could not see him, but
presently found he had got the line entangled round my legs. I threw the
rod down, and stamped about, thinking to tread on him, but suppose I
trod on the gut, for he got away with it. When I picked up my rod I
found I had stamped on it also and broken it; therefore I determined to
let the next rat alone.

Another time I had been fishing late, with a white moth, and, on leaving
off, twisted the gut and fly round my hat. Getting through a hedge the
gut caught in a bramble, and the fly went into my scalp, and the more I
pulled the worse it was. The same friend was with me, and helped me out
of it. We then went to a doctor, who snipped away the hair and cut the
hook out.

It is not very often that an eel is taken with a fly, but I was once
fishing with a Palmer, and, being tired, very carelessly laid my rod
down with the fly in the water, which, of course, sank to the bottom. I
strolled about, and coming back picked up the rod, and found an eel
attached, which I landed.



Finally, fly-fishing may be considered one of the best of sports,
because it can be followed late in life. Most devotees of sport, when
the nerves become shaky and the eyes grow dim, must content themselves
with thinking or talking of what they did in their youth. But it is not
so with the fly-fisher. He can still throw a fly and play a trout,
better perhaps than in his youth, because of his greater experience;
and, when in the down-hill of life he looks back on the hopes and
anticipations of his boyhood days, it must be gratifying to feel that
the times spent among the beauties of nature in exercising the angler's
art have been the most enjoyable parts of his life, and that he is none
the worse man for having obeyed the precepts and followed the example of
our grand old past master, Izaak Walton.


It is doubtful whether the gratification of taking fish is equal to that
which results from the recital of the achievement, and describing to a
sympathetic audience the method and tackle by which the prey has been
ensnared. Walton and his friends, after a long day, loved to meet at
some village alehouse, and fight their battles o'er again; and in the
present day one of the most enjoyable parts of the evening spent at an
Angling Society is when the chairman asks, "Has any one been fishing?"
and the members recount their piscatorial experiences since the last
meeting. Any one unaccustomed to such meetings would be surprised at the
knowledge of rivers, the country, the habits, and the haunts of
particular kinds of fish and insects, the various sorts of baits and
tackle to be used, and all the technical information which the London
angler displays on such occasions; and this broader view of nature and
life is not the least of the benefits derived from following the
piscatorial art.

The London clubs number about 200, with upwards of 5,000 members; and
considering that a very large number of anglers do not belong to any
club, it will be readily understood that the angling fraternity form a
considerable part of the community, whose great aim is to enjoy
themselves in a rational and innocent manner, away from the clank of
machinery, the roar of street traffic, and the stifling atmosphere of a
great city; and every assistance and encouragement should be given them
to do so--and they are progressing. Many of them practice fly-fishing;
and if trout are not to be got, there are chub, dace, and bleak, and
occasionally a roach, to reward them for their skill. The one great
difficulty is where to get good fishing, and this is to some extent
overcome by the co-operation of anglers, through their clubs and
associations, who not only rent waters for their members, but make
arrangements with the railway companies to take them into the country
and back at greatly reduced fares. The preserving and re-stocking of
waters also form an important part of the business of angling clubs.
Experience has taught them that it is of very little use to turn in fry
before they are old enough to take care of themselves, but that it is
more satisfactory, and ultimately more economical to purchase yearling
fish in the first place. These various matters have been so well
attended to, that, notwithstanding the great increase in the number of
anglers, access to well-stocked rivers is more easy of attainment now
than it was a few years ago.

Of course, every care should be taken to prevent poaching, to keep down
predaceous fish, and prevent undersized and out-of-season fish from
being taken; but with these precautions, if the river is naturally
adapted for the kind of fish required, there should be no difficulty.

In the case of trout, the quantity, quality, and size will very much
depend on the quantity and kind of food to be obtained. There should be
plenty of weeds, sedge, flags, &c., not only for shelter, but they are
the natural breeding places of insects and crustacea, in which trout
delight, and if the river is overhung with trees and bushes it not only
adds to the security of the fish, but harbours flies and other insects
which drop off into the water.

      WET _v._ DRY.

The difference between wet and dry fly-fishing is this: the wet fly is
worked gently along some few inches beneath the surface until a fish is
found, which, when they are scarce, or not rising, may be a tedious
process, and often the first intimation is a sudden tug without any
rise, which should be immediately answered by as sudden a twitch from
the wrist.

The dry-fly fisherman walks quietly along by the side of the stream, and
if he sees a trout rising, drops his fly lightly a little above it, and
preferably also a little on one side, and lets it float down stream on
the surface to the fish, gently raising the point of his rod in the
meantime. In case no fish are rising, he carefully casts to the most
likely-looking spots, and particularly under the bank on which he is

In nine cases out of ten, a trout, if it rises at all, takes the dry fly
immediately it touches the water; therefore, one should learn to cast
clean and straight, without any slack line.


There is a great difference of opinion among anglers as to the amount of
pliancy a fly-rod ought to possess. From the old-fashioned, heavy, stiff
rod, we have gone to the other extreme, and had cane rods so light and
whippy as to be entirely useless on a windy day; and now we have what
is, in my opinion, a somewhat sensible reaction, and are coming back to
a greenheart from ten to twelve feet long, of medium substance and

Such a rod, with an Acme line suited to it, and the whole adapted to the
height and strength of the angler, ought to make good casting. Long
casting may be showy, but in practice it is far better to cast lightly
and accurately, and this tends to fill the basket much more than being
able to get out an extra length. One piece of advice may be relied on:
never part with a good rod after you have become accustomed to it. It is
not only the pleasurable associations connected with it, but the
confidence you have in it, and, through it, in yourself, enables you to
kill fish with it.

With care, it may be made to last a lifetime. I used, the other day, at
the International Tournament, a greenheart that I have used almost
exclusively for about twelve years, and with which I have killed many
hundred brace of trout. If, on the occasion referred to, I had used an
Ogden and Scotford's _multum in parvo_, I believe I should have thrown
two yards farther.


I see no reason to alter the list given in the first edition, indeed,
subsequent experience has tended to confirm my opinion expressed

Many old anglers say it is of no use in the May-fly season to try any
other fly. I generally use a May-fly as stretcher, and a small
Soldier-palmer as drop, and out of seventeen-and-a-half brace of trout
caught last Whitsuntide in two half-days, one-third of them were caught
on the Palmer. Others say it is useless to try a May-fly, except when
the natural fly is out; but this is also subject to modification.

There have been two or three well-authenticated cases reported in the
sporting journals lately, of fish having been killed some weeks before
and after the season on _Ephemera vulgata_. Indeed, there has been seen
in Ireland this autumn a _second_ very strong rise of May-fly.

In the first edition I speak of the Grey-drake thus:--"This is said to
be a metamorphosis of the green drake, or female, changing to a male."
The passage should have read thus:--"This is _said by some writers_ to
be," &c.

I had not the slightest intention of giving that as a fact, or as my own
opinion, knowing otherwise.

Flies tied on eyed hooks with cocked or upright wings, in imitation of
the natural fly when floating down a stream, are coming into use more
and more, and apparently will supersede those tied on gut, and with flat


A century ago it was not possible to get forecasts of the weather from
the daily papers, and the death of Admiral Fitzroy in middle life, and
in the midst of his scientific discoveries, was a great blow to the
advancement of this branch of science. But with greater facilities for
conveying intelligence round the whole globe, it could not but happen
that more accurate information of air currents should be sent forward
to the countries likely to be affected by them.

The following is from the "Art of Angling," published in 1810:--"It is
the best fishing in a river somewhat disturbed by rain, or on a cloudy
day when the waters are moved with a gentle breeze; the south and west
winds are the best, and if the wind blows high, yet not so but that you
may conveniently guide your tackle, then fishes will rise in the still
deeps; but if there is little wind stirring, the best angling is in
swift streams.

"In casting your line, do it always before you, and in such a manner
that the fly may fall first on the water. When you throw your line, wave
the rod in a small circumference round your head, and never make a
return of it before the line has had its full scope, or the fly will
snap off.

"Although when you angle the day is cloudy and windy, and the water
thick, you must keep the fly in continual motion, otherwise the fishes
will discern the deceit.

    "'... Upon the curling surface let it glide
    With nat'ral motion from your hand suppli'd;
    Against the stream now let it gently play,
    Now in the rapid eddy float away.'

"When fishes rise at the fly very often, and yet never take it, you may
conclude that it is not what they like, therefore change it for the one
they do."


      "... Should you lure
    From his dark haunt, beneath the tangled roots
    Of pendent trees, the monarch of the brook,
    Behoves you then to ply your finest art;
    Long time he, following cautious, scans the fly,
    And oft attempts to seize it, but as oft
    The dimpled water speaks his jealous fear:
    At last, while haply o'er the shaded sun
    Passes a cloud, he desperate takes the death
    With sullen plunge: at once he darts along,
    Deep struck, and runs out all the lengthen'd line,
    Then seeks the farthest ooze, the sheltering weed,
    The cavern'd bank, his own secure abode;
    And flies aloft, and flounces round the pool,
    Indignant of the guile. With yielding hand,
    That feels him still, yet to his furious course
    Gives way, you, now retiring, following now
    Across the stream, exhaust his idle rage,
    Till floating broad upon his breathless side,
    And to his fate abandon'd, to the shore
    You gaily drag your unresisting prize."


There are several kinds of casts to be used, for the _ordinary_ casts
will be of little avail under some circumstances. To make the ordinary
cast, begin with a short line, and by the action of the wrist and
forearm propel it out in front of you, so that when it is extended to
the full length, the fly will be two or three feet above the surface, on
which it should fall by its own weight. In repeating the cast raise the
point of the rod slowly, and bring it back over your right shoulder, so
that the line shall describe the shape of a horse-shoe behind you; then
throw it forward again in the same manner as before; keep casting in
this way until you can throw a tolerable length, say, twelve or fourteen
yards, always striving more for accuracy and delicacy than length.

Sometimes a fish may be seen rising which is out of reach of the
ordinary cast. In such case it will be necessary to adopt what is called
the _augmented_ cast.

Throw out as much line as you can in the ordinary way, then with the
forefinger of the right-hand press the line against the rod, draw two or
three yards off the reel with the left hand; bring back the line and
throw it forward again, and just before it reaches its fullest extent
remove your finger, and the impetus of the line will carry out the two
or three yards taken off the reel.

The _spey_ throw is used for a similar purpose. If you are fishing a
large river or lake with a strong wind behind you, when the line is
extended to its utmost limit by the ordinary cast, whisk the fly off the
water by an upward and backward movement of the hand; but deliver it
forward again, just as the last of the reel line is leaving the surface,
by a rapid downward cut with the upper portion of the rod. It is
possible in this way to get out four or five yards more line than by the
ordinary cast.

When trees or bushes overhang the water the _side_ cast is sometimes
useful. Let out a short line, and wave the rod from side to side
horizontally, until the line follows the motion of the rod, then pull a
yard or two off the reel and swish it on to the water. The best way to
get it off again is to reel in.

It will occasionally happen that when trees are overhanging there is not
room on either side to use the side cast. The _underhand_ cast here
comes in.

Take the fly between the finger and thumb of the left hand, and by
giving the rod a forward and upward motion, drop the fly on to the water
in front of you.

When high bushes stand between you and the river the _steeple_ cast is
handy. By the action of the rod work the line up perpendicularly above
your head, then pitch it down over the bushes on to the water.

These special casts are only used in special circumstances requiring
them, but they are often instrumental in producing big fish from
otherwise inaccessible spots, and it is in such spots that the big fish
generally lie.


In conclusion, I would recommend all anglers, whether living in London
or the provinces, to join a good club: they there meet kindred spirits,
and form friendships and connections, that make life pleasant.

Many of these clubs rent waters for the use of their members, which
would not be within the reach of individuals.

Scientific papers on the art are occasionally read, and discussions
based on them; lectures and smoking concerts are often added to the
programme; some of them possess extensive circulating libraries
accessible to their members only, while most of their rooms are hung
with specimen fish, portraits of prominent anglers, aquatic birds,
flies, &c. In winter evenings, when angling is out of the question, the
interest in the sport is thus kept up, and plans for the coming season
formed, tackle compared, and various other matters arranged.

Most of the London clubs admit country members at a lower rate of
subscription than ordinary members, and thus benefits accrue on both
sides. Country members, when in town, can obtain all the advantages
enumerated, and they have occasionally the opportunity of procuring the
town member a day's fishing "far from the madding crowd."



      ALFRED & SON,



      =20, MOORGATE STREET, E.C.=


      Our Selection of Trout Rods, the most complete
      Stock in London.

      FROM =7/6=

 Check Winches from 2s. Fly Lines, 1d., 2d., and 3d. per yard. Gut
   Casts from 4d. to 1s. each. Flies dressed on best Drawn Gut, kept in
   Stock, or tied to any Pattern, 2s. per doz.


      _Comprising Brazed Rod, Metal Winch, 40 yards Line,
      Casts, and Book of Flies._

      Foreign and Country Orders must enclose Remittance.

      =Note the Address: 20, MOORGATE STREET, LONDON. E.C.=

      =THE ACME=


are the Finest and Best yet made. They are the most Scientifically
constructed Fly and Spinning Lines ever introduced to the Angling
public. They are supplied on this condition of purchase: Cash refunded
or duplicate line supplied if line be not deemed satisfactory after
twelve months' wear.


Mr. +Wm. Senior+, (Angling) Editor of the _Field_, says: "My
experience of the lines with wire centre is quite another thing, and
it is confined to the 'Acme' of Messrs. D. & W. H. Foster, of
Ashbourne.... I ordered a line that will do for light salmon or Pike
Spinning (No. 1), and another for trout fishing (No. 0). This was two
seasons ago. I have used both lines hard ever since, and they appear
to be quite good for the chances of 1886. They are, in short, the
best lines I ever had."--Contribution to a controversy _re_ Lines, in
the _Fishing Gazette_, March 27th, 1886.

See also recommendations of the +Acme+ in _Land and Water_, August
28th, 1888; _Bell's Life_, September 18th, 1885; _Fishing Gazette_,
September 19th, 1885: _Field_, August 16th, 1884; and the leading
journals of Russia, Austria, the U.S.A., Finland, &c.

=The British Braided All-Silk Waterproof Lines= (1-1/2d. per yd.), and
=The Indestructible Ditto= (1/6 per score yds.) are the best all-silk
Lines in the Market.

      The Best Killing Flies are the new Skin Winged "=BITTERN=."

      Patent applied for. Price =3/-= per dozen.


   They are fifty per cent. nearer nature than the old style
   artificials. "Two of the three varieties sent had a fair trial, and
   they proved more successful than any other flies."--The Rev. +A. R.
   Francis, M.A.+, in the _Fishing Gazette_, September 15th, 1888.

      =For New and Refined Improvements in Tackle, see


   Has attended the Inventions and Improvements we have, during the past
   half century, introduced. Every Angler should possess a copy of our
   Newly Issued Catalogue. Well worth 1s., vide _Fishing Gazette_. It
   contains 133 pages, and over 200 illustrations (some in colours).
   Post free, four stamps.

      D. & W. H. FOSTER, Manufacturers,





      _This is proved by the great number of AWARDS given them, and their




Those who wish for PERFECT ADAPTABILITY, giving the BEST RESULTS with



GEO. HOLLAND, of BRIDGE STREET, SALISBURY, Practical Fly-Fisher and Fly
Maker, begs to inform Anglers that he is now prepared to execute orders
for his STANDARD TROUT and GRAYLING FLIES for Hampshire, Derbyshire,
Yorkshire, and all other Streams, at the following prices for
cash:--Hackle Flies, 1s. 9d. per dozen; Single-winged Flies, 2s. per
dozen; Double-winged Floaters, 2s. 6d. per dozen; Ibis, Macaw, and
Indian Crow Tags, 2s. 6d. per dozen. Bumbles, ditto, on gut, or Eyed
for the Celebrated English Split-Cane Fly Rods, made by Messrs. Hardy
Brothers, and has Special Patterns for Dry-Fly Fishing, as used by some
of the best Hampshire Anglers. Agent for Messrs. S. Allcock and Co.'s
Celebrated "Standard" Angling Requisites. Holland's Cobweb Gut sold in
three-yard Tapered Casts, or in Hanks. This Gut is of the best quality
obtainable, and carefully selected. Flies made to order, and from the
patterns given in Mr. Halford's "Floating Flies and How to Dress Them."
G. H., having personal and practical knowledge of Fly-Fishing both in
North and South Country Streams, is able to advise his Customers as to
the Best Killers for different seasons and localities. By Special
Appointment Sole Agent in this neighbourhood for Messrs. +S. Allcock and
Co., Standard Works, Redditch+.

Being a Specialist for Trout and Grayling Requisites, gentlemen may rely
on getting just what they want.

I am very much pleased with the flies. They are splendidly tied and are
just what I wanted.

      +Francis Francis, Esq.+

       *       *       *       *       *

G. Holland is one of the most excellent professional fly tiers in the
three kingdoms, and has carried the department of Floating Fly-tying to
special excellence.

      +H. Cholmondeley Pennell, Esq.+--_Badminton Library._

       *       *       *       *       *

I never saw anything more life-like or perfect.

      +Francis M. Walbran, Esq.+

       *       *       *       *       *

As a fly fisher of more than fifty years, I have had very extensive
experience of Fly Dressing, and it is fairly due to you to state that I
have never met with flies better or more artistically tied than yours,
and I never miss an opportunity of recommending your flies.

      +H. R. Francis, Esq.+--_Badminton Library._

       *       *       *       *       *


"Examined by the microscope the gut is much rounder and more perfect in
structure than any I have seen, also smaller in diameter; some of the
lengths are 3-1,000ths of an inch only. Its transparency is also very
great, and there are seen no fibres along the length, which is so common
with the ordinary drawn gut. Please send two more hanks."

      +J. Hawksley, Esq.+, London.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dear Sir,--I promised to let you know how those small eyed snecks did
among heavy fish. I am glad to find them exceeding good; so far I have
had no accidents with them, and I had some very heavy fish. Amongst
others, I have killed during the last four days six grayling weighing
15lb., the heaviest brace going a trifle over 5-3/4lb. All these fish
have been killed on your cobweb gut, which is the best I ever had--a
perfect marvel of strength and fineness combined. Most of my fish have
succumbed to the tiny Orange Tags I had from you a fortnight ago, though
the largest fish, a three-pounder, came home on a light Olive. The
Orange Tag is, however, about the best grayling fly it is possible to
use on a sunny day, and it will, in bright weather, frequently do
execution with trout. I hooked three good fish with it in less than ten
minutes one day last week.

      Yours very truly,
      +H. S. Hall+.

      +Ogden & Scotford+,


      Fishing Rods, Flies and Tackle

      For all Parts of the World.






      Only Makers of the Prize Medal
      TROUT ROD, now used by most of the
      =Leading Sportsmen.=

      Only Makers of the Celebrated


      The lightest and toughest Wood Rods ever yet introduced.
      _Rods to Order of any Description, all warranted Hand Made._

      The Original and World Renowned




      Special attention given to Pattern Flies.

      Outfits for any part of the World on the shortest notice possible.

Transcriber's notes:
Text in italics is marked with _underscore_, bold text with the =equals
sign= and small capitals with +plus+. Double underlined text marked with
Archaic spelling retained. The following corrections have been made:
p. 25: "opprobium" corrected to "opprobrium"
p. 43: "Southamption" corrected to "Southampton"
Advertisement "Holland's Floating Flies": "miscroscope"corrected to
Obvious punctuation errors repaired (e.g. added period after No
"No. 0").

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