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Fishing in Mid-water

Spinning for Pike - New Tackle - The Pennell Flight - Sinking and Roving - Fishing with the Snap-Tackle, &c.
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Another, and indeed the most popular method of angling in mid-water for pike, is spinning. It has all the advantages of the old-fashioned trolling, and has the additional attraction of affording much better sport. It may be said to be to ordinary trolling what fly-fishing is to bottom-fishing. It is to be preferred on all waters where there are not too many weeds, bushes, snags, or similar obstructions in the river. The trolling-rod will answer the purpose of the spinner - indeed they are identical for all practical purposes. The reel and reel-line is the same: the bait is, however, not only n different matter, but it is differently presented on a different class of hooks. The veriest tyro in angling must have seen in the tackle-shop windows imitation fish of various sizes, and of still more diverse material, armed with the most formidable-looking hooks standing out, hanging to arms of wire, and other contrivances, until the idea suggests itself how a fish would dare to venture near such a porcupinish monster.

Let me explain the principle of the spinning tackle. The line is fitted with two, and sometimes more, swivels, which, as before described, must be kept well oiled, so as to revolve freely. The bait is attached to what is termed a flight of hooks, or " spinning flight," in such a manner as to twist or turn in the water like a thing of life, as it is moved to and fro, suggesting the idea of a glittering, splendid fish, wounded, or partially disabled, jet attempting to escape. This flight is attached to a length of gimp, to which a lead (fig.) is attached as a sinker, connected with the swivels and the reel line. It is cast similarly to the gorge- bait, but hooks the fish it an entirely different manner, which will be better understood by a reference to the following representation of the Pennell trace and its description. This is one of the best amongst scores of other flights, and I use it for the purpose of illustrating the principles of spinning, because it has the merit of simplicity, and it will be found in practice nearly all that the angler can desire. I have an artificial bait from Sweden before me, armed nearly in the same manner. The angler should keep two or three of the smaller sizes by him. Fig. shows a flight which is made some six inches long, and is fitted for a fair sized dace. Fig. shows the manner of baiting the fish, a gudgeon, on a 4½ inch flight, which is made with only one flying triangle, as the three brazed hooks tied to the short lengths of gut A and B are called, and which in spinning fly loose, not attached to the fish. The tail hook with its reverse is made in one piece, and should be round bent to give the proper curve to the fish. The reverse hook is recommended to be made on the sneck principle, and is firmly whipped to a piece of strong clear gut. The lip-hook is made to move up and down the line by the following means: a piece of fine wire or gimp is whipped to the side of the hook, so as to leave two loops, an upper and a lower one, shown at C. The gut is passed upwards through the lower loop, twisted two or three times round the shank of the hook, and then passed through the upper one. A good lip-hook is made with the loops formed out of the steel of the hook itself. On loosening the coils of gut round the shank of the gut, it may be slipped into any required position.

To bait the flight it is necessary to first fix the tail-hook in the manner described by Mr Pennell himself. The point is inserted " by the side or lateral-line of the bait near to the tail, and passing it under a broadish strip of the skin, and through the end of the fleshy part of the tail, bring it out as near the base of the tail-fin as practicable. Next insert the small reversed hook in such a position as to curve the bait's tail nearly to a right angle; finally pass the lip-hook through both its lips, always putting it through the upper lip first when the bait is a gudgeon, and through the lower one first with all others. This is very important in securing a very brilliant spin." Care should, however, be taken that the upper part of the body should be perfectly straight, and that there should be no strain on the lips of the bait. Fig. shows the fish baited as above described; the upper triangle being dispensed with in the smaller fish. The hooks should be fine in the wire, and whipped to twisted gut for fine fishing, and to gimp, clouded or coloured, for everyday work. The flying triangles are tied to stouter and stiffer material; stout gut will be found generally suitable; but the author of the trace recommends gut gimp if it can be easily procured. To make it stand well out from the gimp, it is tied first in a half knot before being whipped. This is important to remember if the angler makes his own fight. The wrappings of the hooks am coloured variously with red varnish or silver tissue.

The trace is made in ordinary cases of clouded gimp, but " flue fishers " use half a dozen lengths of salmon gut joined together by the knot described in the chapter on lines. The lead shown in the previous chapter is attached about half way along this line. The old traces were always fitted with from five and even six swivels. With the improved form of lead, two or at most three, kept oiled and free from rust, will be found amply sufficient for the greatest lover of machinery. Mr Fallow, 191 Strand, London, furnishes these flights complete, as above described.

The baits necessary are those described in the chapter on trolling, The lead must be adjusted to the weight of the fish.

Artificial baits are so numerous that I need not do more than direct the leader's attention to them. Mr Wright has, however, brought out an artificial gudgeon, formed of the real skin of the fish, which deserves especial mention, It may be obtained of any fishing-tackle dealer.

The spoon bait is still used in many sizes in different localities. The present mode of using it appears defective, and the plan of adding a flying triangle at the side would probably add to its efficiency. Archimedean fish and spoons may be recommended generally when the real fish is not to be obtained.

The gigantic mass of wool and feathers, known as the pike-fly, is used in some waters, particularly lakes, in the same manner as salmon-flies. The wings are usually formed of the eye feathers of a peacock's tail, and it is used with a double hook in bright weather. In Sweden a curious bait is just brought out. It works similar to the spoon-bait, but is in the shape of an egg, which, on being seized, leases the venturesome pike acquainted with a number of hidden hooks, which are released by a spring or snap hidden in the interior.

Pike-fishing with Live Bait. - I approach this portion of pike-fishing, which is called in angling books of a quarter of a century sine, " sinking and roving," with some qualms. As a fishing practice, it is least to be defended, though perhaps the impalement of a live fish on the hook appears worse than it really is. I give one of the many plans of live-bait fishing. About eighteen inches of stained gimp are formed and armed in this fashion, (fig.) The bait is attached as shown in fig. In baiting, the gimp is passed with the baiting-needle through a hard piece of skin in one or two stitches, until the shank of the hook (A) is brought close up to the skin as shown. The filing triangle (B) then hangs as shown. I can see no advantage in the spring snap. The old-fashioned snap-tackle was adapted to smaller fish than the above, and for clear water. It was thus made with three hooks - two of No. 3 and one 8 or 9, tied at different angles. The smaller hook was iinserted beneath the buck fin, and the hooks were laid by the side of the bait.

A dace is " highly recommended," as the shopkeepers would pay, as a bait for snap-fishing. A gold or silver fish is adapted for murky water and dull days. A gudgeon and even a minnow may be used with advantage on proportionately-sized tackle. The bait is suspended in mid-water by means of the sinker and a float, which may be one large cork, or a series of smaller corks, varnished green, and strung on to the line an inch or two apart. The advantages claimed for these are, that they permit the bait to rove about more freely than a larger one, and are not so liable to get entangled amongst the weeds; but the greater advantage is the convenience they offer for fishing a long way from the bank, as they act somewhat in the manner of a tumbler float. The bait are best kept alive in a bait can, described previosly, and should be taken out by a small hoop net.

In striking the fish, either in spinning or with snap-tackle, considerable force is necessary, and the stroke should be repeated until the plunge of the fish shows that it has taken effect. In the next chapter, on spinning with the minnow, I have embodied some general hints on the subject. Huxing and trimmers are unworthy of tli3 name of sport, however useful they may be for the purpose of capturing fish.

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Pictures for Fishing in Mid-water

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