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for this purpose are so contrived, that they can be detached and resumed at pleasure.
Throwing. In order to acquire the art of throwing a fly, it may be advisable to practise, previously to visiting the stream, in a space free from trees, where a piece of paper may represent the spot required to be thrown to. Taking the wind in his back, the tyro, with a short line, at first, may attempt to cast within an inch or two of the paper, and afterwards, by degrees, lengthen his line as his improvement proceeds; he may then try to throw in such a direction that the wind may in some measure oppose the line and rod; and, lastly, he may practise throwing against the wind. In this way any person may become an adept in throwing a fly, much sooner than by trusting solely to the experience which he may get when at the water-side ; for his attention being then wholly engrossed by the hope of a rise, &c., a bad habit may be very easily engendered, which will not be as easily got rid of.
He should endeavour to impart to the end of the line a uniform sweep or curve round his head; for if it returns too quickly or sharply from behind him, a crack will be heard and the fly whipped off. There is some little difficulty
in acquiring this manipulation. The larger the fly the more resistance it meets with in the air ; this resistance causes it to make a better curve, and the danger of smacking it off is lessened. A Palmer, made as shown in plate 19., is not easily lost in this manner.
An attempt to describe all the precautions and manipulations requisite for throwing a fly successfully and gracefully would be as hopeless a task as that of trying to teach dancing by words. It must be abundantly evident that the fly should drop as lightly as possible on the water, and that an awkward unmannerly splash must inevitably mar the illusion.
Weather and Water. - The best days to select for fly-fishing are the warm and cloudy, with a gentle breeze from South or West causing a ripple upon the water; by which the fish is not only prevented from seeing the fisherman so plainly as in smooth water, but is also deprived of so good an opportunity of detecting the fly-maker's artifice.
The water after a flood sometimes remains for several days too turbid for fly-fishing. When it is very low in its bed and clear, the circumstances are also unpropitious, and success is obtained with difficulty. When the water is unusually high, though it be not discoloured, the fish seem to be feeding more at the bottom than above: but these two last obstacles will not deter the sportsman from trying his skill.
Choice of Flies. The selection of a fly requires more judgment, experience, and patience, than any other branch of the art. The beginner will soon discover that his choice cannot be absolutely decided by reference to the catalogue in the following chapter merely, or to any catalogue whatever. For when a fly is (in the former) said to be in season, it does not follow that it is abroad on every day of its existence. The state of the weather, in respect of heat and moisture, has great influence in this respect; he should therefore bear in mind that the Coleopteron, or Beetle, will be on the water on hot days principally: the Ephemera, or fish fly, on rather cold days : the Phryganea, or water fly, as the Grannom, &c., on cloudy days with gleams of sunshine: the Diptera and other land flies as the Cow Dung, &c., on windy days. He would often do well to begin fishing with a Palmer as a stretcher, and the fly which seems most suitable for the day as a dropper, one yard and three-quarters from it: not changing these until he can discover what fly the fish are actually rising at. The Palmer
is never totally out of season, and is a good fat bait.
It should never be forgotten, that, let the state of the weather or the water (in respect of clearness) be what it may, success in fly-fishing very much depends upon showing the fish a. good imitation, both in colour and size, of that insect which he has recently taken : an exact resemblance of the shape does not seem to be quite so essential a requisite as that of colour, since the former varies, according to the position of the insect either in or upon the water; but a small fly is usually employed when the water is fine, because the fish is then better enabled to detect an imitation, and because the small fly is more easily imitated. The resemblance of each particular colour, &c. is not required to be so exact as in the case of a large fly. .
When the fly is thrown on the stream, some little resemblance of life must be attempted to be given to it; this I imagine to be best accomplished by throwing across and down the current: the top of the rod should in this case, after throwing, be held over the side of the stream, on which the fisherman stands ready to strike; the current will then act against the part of the line lying on the water, and cause the fly to sail over towards the same side, yet still to float down a
little, as a natural fly when struggling might be supposed to do.
When the fly is thrown into a still place, a few gentle jerks (after it has remained a second or two on the water) may be given to it; but no greater force should be used than is sufficient to move a foot or two at a time. - Some fishermen generally prefer their flies made buzz, (i, e.) representing probably flies with their wings fluttering, or in rapid motion ; whilst others succeed best with their flies made with the wings to represent the appropriate natural wings at comparative rest. Probably a difference in the mode of fishing may create this difference of choice in the make of a fly. He whose manner of fishing is that of throwing down the stream, close to the bank on which he stands, and then drawing the fly up the current, towards him, or in any manner giving it a good deal of motion, may find that the Buzz fly, made with a three year old cock's hackle is best suited to that method, on account of the above mentioned fluttering appearance*; whilst the artifi
* Any person may become convinced of this resemblance by visiting the Serpentine in Hyde Park (or similar waters) on a warm evening of April, and by very carefully watching the motions of the Golden Dun (see Chap. IV. No. 10.) immediately after it has quitted its nympha state. He will then see it buzzing along upon the surface of the water for some yards (previously to taking flight), and assuming an appearance exactly like that of the buzzhackle, &c.