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How not to do it

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Angling with a barbed hook, partially covered with feathers, hair, worsted, or silk, drawn from one thousand-and-one different sources - attached, of course, to the orthodox rod, reel, and line - is now the most popular, as it is certainly the most cleanly method of luring from their liquid haunts the more rapacious of the finny tribes. It is more manly - more near the generally received impression conveyed by the tenu "sport" - than any other manner of taking trout.

There is however, a great deal of ridiculous nonsense in the directions given by bookmakers en the subject of Fly-fishing. They recommend their readers to use such singular materials for their fly-dressing - send them to such out-of-the-way sources – bind them down by such stringent and absurd regulations that, were it not that we see so many tackle-makers, by hunting their weakness, thriving on these notions, one would be inclined to consider the whole affair an excellent joke. When you are bid pluck the "whiskers" from your favourite " black torn cat," get the " hair from the tail of a brent cow" or that from "the skin of an abortive calf" - does it not read like a very good joke indeed 1 Nor do they confine their demands to the possessions of creatures indigenous to the British Isles. We are told of the efficacy of the hair and the infallibility of the feathers of beasts and birds which are known to us only by name, or to be seen the inmates of a menagerie, in a condition so truly melancholy and so utterly dilapidated, that to borrow or steal from their respective coats, would certainly warrant the intervention of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Particular flies are recommended for particular seasons, streams, channels, depths of water, states of atmosphere, quarters of wind. Should you proceed to any particular locality indicated, attend to the states of atmosphere and water, pursue the same system, using the flies to suit - all as recommended by the individual you have preferred as your instructor - so infallible will those flies have proved themselves, that not one fish will your predecessor have left you to prove Iiis words all who possessed the very peculiar taste evinced by his alleged success, having accompanied him homeward when last he bestowed upon the stream the honour of his presence: and those now darting upwards - their broad, brawny sides glittering silver-like in the setting sunlight - are evidently of a race " who knew not Joseph."

Were we to abide by the strict letter of these instructions, moreover, not one foot of the stream could possibly be properly tested. Every trifling current, every passing breeze, every perceptible curl on the stream would have to be tampered with; or the ever-varying depth, the breadth of the I channel, and the nature of its bottom, would have to be consulted every five minutes with considerable accuracy; and as the appearance of the lure must vary in colour and proportions with each and all of these conditions - a blessed day would be spent in vain endeavours to reduce a preposterous, theory to common practice.

The flies recommended by these gentlemen have doubtless proved eminently successful in their hands; but we beg to suggest, that were they as proficient in their craft as they would have us believe, any other flies, bearing a reasonable proportion in size to the known capabilities of the stream, would have done as well - perhaps better! Besides, did ever two anglers agree on the superior merits of any particular fly? If one. should be asked, he will most likely say, "Ah! it is very good; but this is the best," - and forthwith opening his book, he shows you something you probably never saw before, nor ever will likely again.

One word more on the structure of the flies. In spite of what may be said about their shape - the truer they are to nature the better. Trout, perhaps, are not so well versed in entomology as those who have spent a lifetime in its study, but a trout of two ounces is pretty well aware that a mayfly is not a mudlark. We think, besides, if a fly is to be imitated at all, it should be made a size larger than nature, as where there are plenty of natural insects, the advent of a bulkier one may decide the wavering resolution of some lazy fellow who is eyeing them saucily from below; for trouts are as anxious to get as much as possible with the least trouble as other folks.

As showing still further the absurdity of prepossession in favour of certain flies, we may state that we know a worthy cobbler, enjoying in Kirkliston the monopoly in his own 'peculiar branch of trade, and the celebrity of being the most successful angler on the Almond, who, on account of its distance rarely having the opportunity of choosing his tackle in town, entrusts his piscatorial commands to a jolly waggoner - with about as much knowledge of angling as aerostatics - who purchases in "Embra" for his confrere, " a shullin's worth o' flees," without being hindered by any restriction as to kind. Also our friend P.P. - whom everybody knows and who knows everybody; who sleeps in a pannier and dreams of trout; who treats his flies and five- pound notes with equal care; whose realm is water and subjects fish - P.P., who frequently in our presence, has exchanged his trusty wand - the magic flourish of which seemed to charm from their senses the finny tenants of the stream - with a less successful brother, without in any way altering or improving their respective positions - P.P. has a thorough contempt for this doctrine.

No! no! do not believe it! There is a good deal of bosh, bookmaking, and banter about it! You'll find one great authority saying, " Make your flies like those on the stream," and another bidding you do exactly the reverse. No! no! the manner of giving more than the apparent intrinsic worth of the article given, that warms the heart, excites the confidence, and disarms the suspicions of the recipient! If yon go on thrashing the water, swish - swish - swish - cutting the air, and beheading every green thing within a circle of some six-and-thirty feet, working the sober stream into a state of the most violent fermentation, and thrusting your gaudy tinselled morsel into their eyes, with something of a "take-it-or-leave-it-you- rascal" manner in your casts - is it at all probable that such a wary, wide-awake feeder as a freshwater trout, will snatch at it with gratefulness? No! no! it's the giving - the manner of giving - that leads to success.

But we will suppose you have at length acquired sufficient sleight of hand to convince a fishy eye that your mounted barb is a natural insect - species unknown, and are an adept at prevailing upon fish to seize it: believe us, however, there is a deal to be cared for before it reaches your basket. After having allowed the fish to seize your dainty, you must not think that you have done all that the circumstances warrant. It is often an encouragement to the tyro, as s owe adept probably steps up saying, "Ah, young fellow, that's a capital rise!" Yes, a "rise" at your expense! Did it never strike you, after hearing a significant splash in the vicinity of the region where your flies ought to be, in the midst of your surprise that no tug followed, that your dainty morsel had been in the maw of the fish - in that very position you have, for some hours, been inwardly praying for - while you for the moment were unconsciously idle? Such is the fact, however. Salmon-roe, minnow, and worm, are somewhat different in their physical construction from "flies" - those delicate fabrics that flit, almost invisible, o'er the sunny stream. Trouts take flies as we take lozenges - turning them over and over in their mouths, and sucking the delicious morsel as long as a vestige of it remains! Not so with the worm: he takes it as we take physic - at a gulp: so that generally, in the latter case, if the line holds, he is a dead trout. In the case of the fly, while he is turning over the tempting morsel, and you are ogling the girl milking in the next field, or dreamily gazing on the distant mountains - there is a probability of his becoming aware that something more than "flesh, bones, and blood" form its components. We say there is a possibility - sometimes he discovers it too late; but generally, in ninety- nine cases out of a hundred, he has lots of time to spit the dirty morsel forth. If an old fish, with what an expression he does so! Had he a thumb, would'nt he know where to put it 1 He is a younker, most probably. Up the stream he bolts, in the direst terror, without looking to right or left, avoiding with awful dread every midge he meets on his path, and beneath an ancient boulder, where lodges some patriarch of the stream, some "medicine-man" of the finny tribes, in his hearing pours forth his tale of horror, demanding the why and wherefore of the deed. Ah! don't the old 'coon know all about it? Alas! how many has he seen whipped from the stream in the morning of their days and the noontide of their existence! "All flies aren't flesh," is his sententious remark; and with a roll of his pectorals, signifies that the audience is at an end.

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