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Advantage of the dry-fly


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Many anglers welcome and thoroughly enjoy the stone-fly season, because they are then accustomed to obtain sport of a very high order, probably the best of the whole year. Baskets are then as a rule well filled, and the trout captured are of grand average size, com parable with those that fall to the attractions of the minnow in a full black water.

The reason for this is that the bait used is a living fly, which, if not subjected to any unnatural motion, is viewed without any semblance of suspicion and accepted without hesitation by the trout, provided always that they do not catch a glimpse of the angler.

The extremely deadly nature of the worm in clear water is similarly explained; but that bait, the use of which teaches the angler so much concerning trout, does not reach the summit of acceptability until the stone-fly has passed away, and the reason simply is that after that period surface-food is liable to be somewhat scarce. Whenever the conditions are favourable to the hatching of flies, the trout become as keen on flies as ever; they are not sated with them, as is sometimes declared, but abstain only because aquatic winged insects are frequently not available. They look for food below and take the worm, not because they are accustomed to it, for that they cannot be when waters are low, but because it is alive and happens to arrive where they are. The artificial fly is not readily taken when surface-food is absent, because trout are searching the depths and not scanning the surface.

If at all periods of the year flies like unto the stone-fly n size and number were obtainable, there would be no necessity for a dry-fly, except for such anglers as prefer on all occasions an artificial lure. Since natural flies do not exist so accommodating in every respect as the stone-fly, the fly- fisher desirous of prolonging the period of good sport, must have the nearest approach to the natural insect that has been made, in other words, the floating fly. As that lure so very closely resembles a living creature in shape, size, shade, and behaviour, the last particular being probably the most important, it deceives very nearly as many and as good trout as any natural bait entices. The great advantage of the floating fly is that it takes trout of fine average size, the best the liver contains. In short, it allows the glories of the stone-fly season to continue throughout the year.

It is curious that the great majority of stone-fly anglers fish it on the surface and yet, when they are forced to use an artificial, which they do simply because a natural fly suitable for impaling upon a hook is not available, they allow it to sink beneath. If an artificial represents a living fly, surely it should behave as one, and float.

Another great advantage of the dry-fly is that every capture effected with it brings delights un known to those who confine themselves to other lures. The fly is in full view of the angler, who can plainly watch its progress on the water, follow its fortunes, and all the time he is in a state of expectancy and tension. Probably he has marked down a rising fish and offered it the counterpart of what it has just taken. If his fly vanishes from sight, he is pleased, because what he expected to happen, what he has striven to achieve, has occurred; if it passes on unheeded, he is surprised, perhaps a little disappointed, because he has failed for one reason or another to satisfy the trout.

If a wet-fly angler casting over fish feeding on the surface draws a pool blank, lie may be his appointed; but he has no right to be, because he is endeavouring to persuade the trout to accept something that they obviously do not at the moment wish; they cannot be expected to carry out his desires; he ought to satisfy theirs, seeing that they are the object of his pursuit.

Certainly there 's something very line in the boil of a trout to a sunk fly. The suddenness of it is very thrilling; so unexpected is the break on the surface that it is easy to omit administering the required strike. Such an event strongly appeals to us, and under certain conditions we use the wet-fly in the hope that it will often occur, but we enjoy also laying and watching the fly that floats. In salmon-fishing the sudden apparition of the great fish, the terrific snatch at the fly that sets the angler trembling with excitement, form a large part of the attractiveness of that glorious sport. Why should anyone seek to remove from the trout-fisher all possibility of similar sensations, only less in degree?

A lure which produces sport under conditions which render all others futile is worthy of great respect. Consider a hot breathless day of July when the distant air quivers above the meadows, when the long flats are smooth as glass, save those in which the tortured cattle strive to gain a little comfort. The trout likewise have departed in search of more consoling surroundings in the rippling aerated shallows at the head of the pool; but that is not the only reason underlying the migration. The cunning fish know that sporting over the wavelets dance the flies, and that now and then these lightly touch the surface, sending away the ova on the adventurous journey of their varied life. Some of the busy insects are cut down before their work is completed, and even those that escape such an untimely fate must of necessity sooner or later fall to the stream. Then a dainty hackled pattern suggesting the busy or spent fly will lure many a fine trout from the waving current. The fish are eager and the fly floats quickly past; long and close inspection is therefore impossible, and so the sport is merry, though the conditions drive the wet-fly man in despair to the coolness of the trees.

Consider also the glories of the evening rise, the delight of the dry-fly man, the irritation of the wet-fly fisher. The stream flows lazily on wards; the melody of the woods is silenced; the air is still and quiet save for the persistent hum of innumerable gnats; the hills are bathed in the red glow of the west. The gay spinners have awhile been busy, but their life is over, and now the pool is covered with their exhausted forms. The water is dotted all over with the tiniest lings, caused, however, by the heaviest trout, and over them the wet-fly angler casts his team of flies, delicately enough it is trite, but how utterly un availing is all his skill his silent reel and uncurving rod plainly show. One after another each promising mark is readied, but the result is ever the same; the trout continues steadily to suck down the plenteous feast, until an angry or a clumsy cast sends it in terror to the depths.

Let him change to a simple hackled fly, light and airy, touch it with oil, and dry it thoroughly; then let him lay it softly on the water perhaps a foot beyond a dimpling rise; let him watch it closely, very closely, for it may vanish silently and mysteriously without even a floating air-bell to mark its going. The answering strike must reach the trout just after the fly has disappeared from view, more slow than usual must the action be, for the fish are. more leisurely than they are under a brisk breeze ruffling the water. If all has gone well, he may prepare for a long and thrilling struggle which will, if fate is kind, terminate in the dipping of the net to enfold a trout that never would have fallen, at that time at any rate, to any sunken lure.

Perhaps he will have time to make another conquest before the fluttering sedge-flies fare forth. Then the trout are not in such deadly, sober earnest, they are quite as keen but not so quiet; they are in joyous, exuberant spirits, splashing over the flies, smacking the water in their glee, pursuing the restless insects. A change to the Corn crake or the Cinnamon Sedge, whichever the waters indicate, keeps the angler in excitement. If he will but curb his haste, concentrate on one fish at a time, get his fly into the eddying water at once, keep his eyes from wandering - and very difficult it is to do all this - he will have a totally different kind of sport, fast and furious, not sedate and serious. The wet-fly will in these circum stances account for a fish or two; but a floating sedge will assuredly produce a trout, or at least a rise, at every cast that is accurately delivered.

Often the loch is covered most liberally with Olive Duns, and yet only a trout here and there will take one. Now the angler might be seriously tempted to persist on such an occasion with the dry fly; but, when it is so apparent that the trout an1 not feeding on the surface, he should conclude that they are on the look-out for something else. As a matter of fact the dry-fly kills better when no flies are about, than it does when flies are plentiful but are not being taken. Accordingly he should decide that the trout are feeding on the ascending nymphs and, fishing the wet-fly, he will usually do well enough to convince him that the deduction was correct. When the hatch is completed, the floating feast is attended to by the trout, and the dry-fly comes again into favour. Both lures arc necessary, each having its special uses, and it is easy to determine when the dry-fly will be acceptable and when t will not, but it is much more difficult to say when the wet-fly will meet with satisfactory response.

A rising trout of worthy dimensions hooked on an ordinary wet-fly assumes at once an expression of ineffable disgust. It apparently concludes that it has reached its dotage, that it has entered upon its second childhood, and it yields to the pressure of the rod, coming to the net like any fingerling. It has no desire to live, having been found guilty of such arrant stupidity.

On the other hand it is easy to observe the confident look of anticipatory delight, with which a trout comes to the dry-fly, change to one of profound astonishment when it discovers the barb. It knows that it has been deceived, but the know ledge does not fill it with despair; it argues that any trout, even the monarch of the stream him self, would have had no suspicions, and it fights a glorious fight that it may escape, and, by explanations and excuses to its fellows for the momentary lapse, regain its reputation for caution and wariness. But it does not always escape. So the dry-fly takes the best-conditioned fish and the fight they show is to the maximum of their powers.


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