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The Line, Tackle, and Equipment of an Angler


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Important and useful as a well-balanced und carefully- constructed rod is to the angler, he is more dependent oil his line and hooks for success than on the staff to which they are attached. His rod may be rough, ill-fashioned, a mere switch, or a washerwoman's line-prop, and yet not prove fatal to his sport; but an ill-conditioned line, or a badly-tempered hook will spoil all Even the beautifully- finished, tapering, silver-mounted rod will not compensate for defective gut or a brittle hook. The skilful cast, the well-timed stroke, the judicious playing of the fish, are thrown away by the snapping of a piece of steel or the sudden parting of a fine line.

Fishing lines are made of an endless variety of substances, - horse-hair, silk-worm gut, Indian grass or weed, silk, hemp, cotton, either separately or mixed, from six feet to one hundred yards long, and ill fineness, from a single horse-hair to a clothes-line.

For bottom-fishing fine horse-hair or gut is used. The latter is more common, because it can be obtained in greater lengths, and of more uniform consistency, and of varied strength and thickness. It is made from the ordinary silk-worm, just at the stage of its existence when it is about to spin the cocoon. This period is known by the cater pillar ceasing to eat, and it is then killed by being thrown into boiling water. The body of the grub is divided gently in the middle, and a greenish gelatinous gut is disclosed to view. This is the organ which secretes the silky matter for spinning the cocoon. This gut like substance is taken by the extremities and extended slowly and gradually until the requisite length and thickness are obtained; the ends are then fastened to iron pins, fixed in a board the proper length, and the air and sunshine left to dry and consolidate the filmy substance. It is made of different degrees of tenuity, according to the purpose for which it is required, whether for salmon, trout, or roach fishing. The best quality is made in Spain; but a great deal is spoiled by a careless method of manufacture. Good gut should be naturally round, thin, and transparent. I say naturally, because there is in use a little machine, like a wire-drawer's gauge, for reducing the diameter of gut and rounding its flat and angular edges. This is useful to a certain extent, but the gut so prepared is not only decidedly inferior to that produced naturally, but is more expensive. Some gut is white and glossy - this should be avoided for bottom lines, as it is more easily seen. To obviate this disadvantage as far as possible the gut must be stained. To do this properly the gut must be moistened, and then steeped in ink, diluted with a little water - this will give it a bluish tinge. Strong coffee lees, in which a bit of alum has been dissolved, will give the much-admired brown or peat colour. The water in which green walnuts have been boiled or steeped will answer the same purpose. These colours will answer every purpose. A variety of other and miscellaneous recipes are given in the Appendix.

The winch-line, for fly-fishing, and for ordinary use in bottom-fishing, if the angler uses the reel, is composed either entirely of horse-hair or of a mixture of horse-hair and silk, or of silk alone; the latter are becoming more common, but the former is the most durable. Silk, either alone or mixed with hair, is so apt. to rot, that there is a great prejudice against its use, notwithstanding that it is stronger and more easily thrown. Patent prepared silk is now in general use for winch-lines, and is well spoken of. 1 have used both the silk and the silk and hair mixed, with success; when 1 have tried the much-recommended hair alone, I have found it thick, clumsy, and difficult to manage.

The length of the reel-line must of course depend on the size of the river to be fished. On narrow rivers twenty yards will be ample; on broad rivers, or lochs, eighty yards will not be too much. Whichever length, or whatever length is used, the line must be so constructed as to taper about twelve feet from the end until it terminates in the thickness of salmon-gut. Tapering lengths of salmon, gut may be whipped or fastened to it, and the fly-line attached direct without the " loosely-twisted hair," or triple-gut casting-line which usually forms the connexion between the reel and the fly-line. This, however, has yet many admirers and many disadvantages. When tying or knotting hair or gut, it must be rendered pliant by being soaked in warm water. Wires the ends require to be tied or whipped they may be moistened or flattened between the teeth. When chafed or fretted they may be rubbed with a piece of india-rubber, which will make them smooth again. To make an ordinary carting line, seven or eight lengths of triple-twisted gut must be obtained and the ends joined by the single slip-knot, wrapped with wax silk, and covered with spirit-varnish. The pieces must be so selected and joined as to taper gradually to the end, with four or Ave lengths of picked gut tapering to where the bait tackle is attached.

There are many plans of joining gut or hair together. The plan of whipping two ends with silk is perhaps the neatest, but the least reliable. The ends are laid by the side of each other, tightly whipped, and the end fastened off as mentioned in whipping hooks. The ordinary knot, called the fisher's knot, (fig.) is the one commonly used. "When the long ends are pulled tight it becomes a fast knot, easily separated. It may be wrapped with silk, or the meshes may be left the eighth of an inch apart, as recommended by Mr C. Pennell, and then carefully whipped. The advantages claimed for this plan are - that in case of a sudden strain, such as striking a large pike or other cause, the knot, instead of parting with the force used, would only be drawn closer together, and the whipping would act as a sort of buffer. The old knot on stout salmon-gut will break at a steady pressure of from twelve to fifteen pounds; but tied with the Pennell-knot the gut will break at any other place in preference to the knot, which is a neat contrivance. The sailors knot, is a useful knot on an emergency, though not so neat as the foregoing. The two ends are crossed between the left thumb and forefinger, the end pointing towards the left lying at the top of the other; it is then bent backwards to the other end towards the body, until both ends meet on opposite directions underneath. A simple hitch is made with the two ends, as shown in fig. On pulling the long pieces a secure knot is made, which may be easily separated when done with without injury to the gut, or it may be whipped and varnished. The weaver's hint is a more secure knot than the above, but more clumsy. It is thus made: - The ends are crossed between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, but the end pointing to the right must lay at the top in this case; the piece belonging to the opposite end is then carried over the thumb at the back of the left end, and brought between the two ends until it can beheld between the finger and the thumb, the right-hand end is pushed through the loop, and the knot stands thus, (fig.) This, though a strong knot for silk, hemp, or cotton, cannot be recommended either for hair or gut. These lines must be dressed - that is, winch-lines, trolling-lines, and salmon-lines, or else they will speedily rot, and in all cases they must be dried ere they are put away. The lines may be steeped in boiled linseed oil, in which a little japanner's gold size has been dissolved, in the proportion of one-eighth of the latter to seven-eighths of the former. If not found hard enough, a little more gold size will remedy the deficiency. Boiled linseed oil, in which a small knob of resin has been dissolved in an earthenware vessel over a slow fire, will answer every purpose, and its antiseptic qualities are for superior. Some add india-rubber and bees-wax to the oil, and others copal tarnish and camphor. In the absence of any of the above ingredients white wlx is very valuable rubbed on the lines. "When using any of the foregoing dressings care must be taken that they are not used hot. The superfluous dressing should be removed by passing the line between a folded piece of leather held between the fingers. Two dressings of the oil and gold size will be necessary, which should be given some months before the line is used.

Fishing Hooks are made for the angler's use of about fourteen sizes, and there are several varieties, known by the name of London, Limerick, Kirby, Kendal, round and sneck bends, according to the place where they are made, and the shape they are bent. They are made also of varied length in the shanks, to suit the different purposes for which they are used. For worm-fishing, the long-shanked hook, perfectly round in the bend, so that neither barb nor point inclines inwards, is the best. For gentles, paste, and grain, the short-shanked, sneck-bent hooks are preferred, as the point of the hook is more easily kept covered and secured for a longer time. Every angler should be able to whip his own hooks on to the gut or hair. It is not difficult to " w hip," but it must be done neatly to be of use. The best whipping is made of fine silk, waxed with saddler's wax, that being preferable to shoemaker's wax for angling purposes. The whipping should be commenced near the bend, and finished neatly by two slip-knots, and then varnished. The best varnish for this purpose, and for tackle generally, is that made, by dissolving shellac in double its bulk of spirits of wine. One application will be found sufficient. The gut or hair should be flattened and moistened previous to whipping, by being drawn through the teeth. When the hooks are wanted for bottom-fishing, the gut need nut be above eight inches long, and should be furnished with a loop with a whipped fastening to attach it to the line. Too large hooks should not be used in proportion to the size of the bait. Fly-fishers approve of the round-bend hook. Hooks are numbered according to size; but different makers commence differently. Thus Bartlett's largest hooks are No. 1½, the smallest 17. Addington, on the contrary, commences at 12 and ends at 00. The numbers mentioned in these pages refer to the largest as No. 1. All hooks should be tried before using. If they bend easily, they are of little value, as they are too soft. If too hard, they snap suddenly. The happy medium must be chosen.

Floats. - These articles, so indispensable to the young and inexperienced angler, may be purchased of all shapes and sizes at the tackle shops. Small cork floats are the handiest for general fishing, but for carp, roach, and chub, a small quill must be used, (figs.) For fishing for pike with five bait, the float must be proportionately larger, (fig.) They maybe easily made; an easily made, light, and useful quill float is shown in fig. It is made from two quills cut through the middle, and each cut end slipped over a plug of some light wood. A useful cement for joining floats, tipping their ends to keep out the wet, and other angling and general purposes, is made of 1 oz. of bees-wax, 5 oz. of yellow resin, melted together in an earthenware vessel; an ounce of Venetian red may be added, and about the same quantity of plaster of-Pais. Let it boil slowly, stir it until thoroughly incorporated, and then it should be stirred until it cools. A small portion must be melted in some convenient vessel for use as required. This is useful if the young angler aspires to the manufacture of cork floats. Generally speaking, a little melted sealing-wax and the tackle spirit varnish, is all that is necessary, find answers every purpose. The quills may be ornamented with coloured silk; or the quills may be dyed, or coloured red; the liquid dyes sold at the chemists' shops will form the best laboratory the "natty" angler can resort to for this purpose. A little vermilion or Brunswick green added to the tackle varnish will give his floats the brilliant red or green tint he may wish. Though the plainer and unobtrusive the tackle is kept the better - green is, however, better than red. On broad streams the tumbler float is very useful, and it is not generally known. Its appearance is shown in fig. 8. I never saw one sold, but I have made scores for my friends, by taking out the upper quill of an ordinary rotund cork float, and adding a much longer one, with a swan shot or lead pellet fastened in the top. This pellet should be heavy enough to cause the float to lie flat on the water, and it should be sufficiently well balanced as to show the slighest nibble by standing upright. I have cast this float with a long line far into a broad stream, and indeed this is its use. It is truly a float of the Nottingham school of anglers, and a very good one it is. A few spare float caps, made by cutting quills into sections, and whipping a bit of waxed silk round them to prevent them splitting, should form part of the bottom-fisher's outfit.

The Plummet. - This useful little article is necessary to ascertain the depth of the water in bottom-fishing. Mine is made of thin sheet-lead, rolled into the oval shape of fig., a small piece is uncoiled, and wrapped round the hook, and then carefully and quietly let into the water. Another form of plummet is sold at the shops (fig.) the hook is slipped through the ring A, and the point rests on a wood plug in the bottom, B.

The Panier Basket, or Creel, is usually made of wickerwork; and those elegant baskets known as "French made," are perhaps the most popular. The size must be regulated by the quantity of fish the angler expects to capture. Hump grass is better than any other material to keep the fish fresh and cool. An extra strap or two will be found useful to attach the waterproof coat, extra butt, or other angling impedimenta to the basket.

A Haversack of waterproof cloth, similar in shape to those supplied to the infantry, is in my opinion one of the most useful articles which an angler can have. It is easily packed; and as the band can be easily fined with button-boles, it can be attached to the brace-buttons on the left-hand side, or to buttons stitched on purposely. A convenient size is one of twenty inches long by twelve inches deep, fitted with a flap and two buttons, as shown in fig. 12, to which a short strap and buckle may be added. The interior should be divided longitudinally by a third piece, and the seams should be carefully turned in, double-stitched, and varnished. In it the angler may keep a whole variety of requisites, and on occasions a change of linen. It may be fitted with rings or buckles, so as to permit the shoulder-straps to be taken off or put on at pleasure.

The Drag-hook and Cord (fig.) is suggestive of anything but pleasant ideas. It is about as awkward a piece of furniture as a man could carry about with him. I would rather lose a hook and line than be troubled for an hour with one.

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Pictures for The Line, Tackle, and Equipment of an Angler

Knots
Knots >>>>
Floats
Floats >>>>
Timber float
Timber float >>>>
Lead sheet
Lead sheet >>>>
Plummet
Plummet >>>>
Infantry bag
Infantry bag >>>>
Fishing bag
Fishing bag >>>>
Drag hook
Drag hook >>>>
Clearing ring
Clearing ring >>>>
Fishing equipment
Fishing equipment >>>>
Anglers wallet
Anglers wallet >>>>
Live-bait kettle
Live-bait kettle >>>>

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