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is taboo throughout the whole pools with the dry, passing no length of many rivers, I might water, and, in the result, rebe led to conclude that on the ceiving a rich harvest of trout. “other water” the dry - fly, Sound common-sense, is it not ? though not imperative, has For I do not find in the been tried and found more argument of our dry-fly friend successful than the wet-fly. I any assertion of essential virtue know that on the Itchen the in the dry-fly or of original sin dry-fly man deliberately passes in the wet. The most that is running streams where the wet- claimed for the dry-fly, I take fly might be effective. Why? it, is that it kills more heavy Because these streams are not fish, and even may be
necessary suited to his dry-fly practice! It to kill any fish, in certain is possible, I think, to cultivate waters. It cannot be claimed too pedantio a conscience. But for it, surely, that it is neceswhat would I have him do? he sary, or even useful, on waters asks in wonder. Well, he could which those who fish with it ruffle the wings of his dry-fly, carefully avoid. Why, then, or reduce them, or remove them, the taboo of the wet-fly even and fish these running waters on these waters where the wetin the wet-fly manner, Better fly would undoubtedly be sucstill, he could keep a stock of cessful ? Because the dry-fly wet flies, and change his casts is the proper presentment of the and his practice with the change natural fly upon the water? of water. That, surely, is If that is the dry-fly bigot's common-sense. Far be it from argument, and I understand me, however, to pretend that I it is one of them, 'tis such as made this my own practice at is my aversion. The winged the dictates of sound sense. fly is no liker the fly on the Some years ago I went to fish surface than is the hackle fly a river in the north of England the fly beneath it; and it is with friends who lived by its news that & drowned fly is banks. They were wet- fly less a thing of nature than a fishers: I question, indeed, if living one. There lurks in the a dry-fly had been cast & arrogant claim of the dry-fly hundred times over that water. bigot a pretension to superior I had fished it often in my virtue which makes it particyoung and wet-fly days, and I ularly pleasant to catch him wished to seem to fish it wet-fly in backsliding. Have at him still; but I was then going then! How comes he to adopt with so full a sail on the dry-fly patterns of flies which, in the tack that I took dry-fly equip- natural state, the fish find in ment with me that day. My great numbers below the surbigotry had an undeserved re- face in a drowned or partially ward. For through it I dis- drowned condition? I refer, covered then, what has been of course, to the thousands of my reasoned practice ever since, smaller water-flies that, falling -to fish the running streams on the surface of a broken with the wet-fly, and the still stream, or hatching from the bottom in a rough water, are fly bigots chortling over these not strong enough for the flouts at the zealot of the drybattle, and are carried down: fly, but I have a word for them all the hackle flies, the spider now. Should any practitioner flies, Yorkshire bloas and Derby- of the dry-fly say to me, "My shire bumbles, patterns of which method is the highest refineare winged by the dry-fly man. ment of fly-fishing art," I go Take the various well-known with him all the
in thin-bodied, single-hackled flies that arrogance. And if he deof the wet-fly man, the yellows, fend his avoidance of certain olives, blues, which are found stretches of his river, and the in the dry-fly fisher's books limitation of his sport to one labelled watery duns, olives, method, by saying, "I am nice and so forth: there is no get- in my taste- I like the fine ting away from the fact that wine of life, and put all these in some waters are often commoner vintages from me,' better presentments of the well, I do not think I have natural insect when dressed as any answer to him, save that, wet - flies than when dressed for myself, I should feel that with wings. Then, again, in to be a little unwise, and just the case of the duns where a little snobbish. I remember winging admittedly improves Montaigne's saying, “The worst their verisimilitude, why does quality of a gentleman is fastidthe dry-fly man overwing them iousness, and the being tied to out of all recognition? The a certain particular way; and single-winged dry - fly is a it is particular if it be not wonderful example of the fly- pliable and adaptive !" Still, dresser's art: it is so perfect no one is to be blamed for a beauty that nature could preferring the best, and that not better it. But double dry-fly fishing and not wet-fly wings at once depart from is the best may well be any the gauzy creation of nature; man's opinion. The delicate and what shall we say, then, sure casting over a fish that of rolled wings? The legs of you see and know there, that the natural insect are fairly fish and no other; having him well reproduced by a turn or open his mouth and suck down two - no more - of natural the fly at that precise spot, cock's hackle; but when two there and no other, where you or more hackles are made to judged it must be taken if it cover the whole of the body were taken at all; just that and cause the lure to float mingled certainty and doubt, "like a haystack," what comes calculation and surprise, of all the talk of fidelity to surely that is the cream of nature? Mark, I am not deny- the sport.
aware of ing that the dry-fly man kills what the wet-fly man says. with such. But that he does He says that he knows just kill is rather against his theory as well as does the dry - fly of naturalness, is it not? fisher the precise spot where
I can conceive of the wet- the trout is lying, and as
exactly the moment he will third place, that you cause less rise. I readily admit the in- disturbance in the water which timate knowledge of his river you have still to fish over. which he possesses, and how There is nothing to be said little of “chuck and chance about these arguments except it" there is in his sport. But that they hold equally good in this argument of his, never- for fishing across stream, while theless, I consider him, I am a valid objection to casting up bound to say, a little disin- water, namely, that the cast genuous. It is surely a very lying over the trout is apt to practical argument for the dry- frighten it, is removed to a fly that “Once a dry-fly fisher, great extent by casting across. always a dry-fly fisher.” The Whereas all four reasons may wet-fly bigot seems to be de- be given against fishing downpriving himself of a modern stream. It is argued, in favour refinement of fly-fishing which of the last, that a fish will turn he could use with as much and take the fly down-stream. advantage on the still waters So it will. There is reason to of his rivers as could the dry- believe that though a trout can fly men his wet-fly on their see fairly well to his side, and rapid streams. I do not wish specially well in front and above to insist on this matter of the him, he cannot see down, and big fish in the still waters. he cannot see behind. If that But if any wet-fly man presses is so, we can understand that me that the logical conclusion when the fly has passed him he of my argument is that on the has to turn and bring it again wet-fly rivers the big fish in within the angle of his vision the pools are not adequately before he can take it. But my fished by the wet-fly anglers, – experience is that, comparawell then, I am afraid I can tively, it is seldom that a trout only answer that that seems takes a fly down-stream, and to be the logical conclusion. that he is far more likely to
By many dry-fly anglers it is rush at a fly in front of him or considered imperative to fish at the side. I have watched up-stream, and certainly it is fish feeding often, and have more so with a single fly than observed that with the natural with a cast of several. The fly as with the artificial, nine argument for up-stream fishing cases out of ten, they waited is that as trout invariably lie until the fly was nearly over with their noses up-stream them. At some spot almost when in search of food, casting above it seems to be the from below them you are given natural focus of the trout's a better chance of approaching eye, for with a rise of fly in within fishing distance without the water the trout keeps disturbing them; that, also, if rising, rising, breaking the you are fortunate enough to surface again and again at tempt the fish to take the lure the identical spot. It is adyou are in a better position to mitted, too, I think, that fix when you strike; and, in the sound travels farther and faster with the current than nearly so murderous as the Mayagainst it; and it must be fly with the mass of anglers. remembered that the sight of There are fewer expert baitthe gut is not likely to disturb fishermen than there are expert the fish so much as the sound fly-fishers, and there are far of the line being brought down more fish killed by the latter with the current. Which man- than by the former : what, ner shall be adopted, however, then, becomes of the argument is a question of conditions. The against bait-fishing that it kills general working rule, no doubt, 80 many fish? Besides, shall is to fish across and up when we anglers cease to be virtuous one can, and down-stream when because we catch fish? Posione can do nothing else. But tively, it is becoming necessary we have actually known men to ask. Where there are few pass by water that could be fish and many fishers, it is fished down - stream only,– proper to confine the sport to why? Because, so they said, the more delicate and scientific up-stream is the proper way methods. Only let us discrimito fish. We can hardly call nate between the less scientific their way pliable and adap- methods. There is
stream worm-fishing in clear But the crowning arrogance water, practised in the north in a “particular way" declares of England, and a wonderful itself in the man who says that casting by some Derbyshire there is only one sportsmanlike anglers of the natural minnow manner of fishing, and that as you would a fly, which, I manner with the fly. By all submit, ought to commend itmeans “I'm for fair wars, no self to those modish, fly-and-flyspells and charms against the only gentlemen. law of arms.'
.” And if the water I am fearful of offending is in spate and drumly, and you these exquisites by the mention offer the trout a worm, you are of persons who angle for coarse using a charm against the law fish, but I should be sorry to of angling. That is to take un- deprive less delicate inquirers of fair advantage of the water con- a glimpse of some bigots of ditions, in all anglers' opinion; the bottom lines. and I could wish that all acquaintance “tugs on in a anglers' opinion was as sensi- faction" against pike-fishing by tive and unanimous about the any method save that of spinunsportsmanlike practice of
of ning, and it happens that we fishing with the Mayfly during have a friend who is devoted to a mad Mayfly rise. How are we the use of dead-snap tackle. I to explain-save by bigotry- know their arguments by heart. the sanction of that by men The spinning man declares that who taboo the use of certain his method covers by far the most flies,—the Alexandra for ex- ground, offers the bait to the ample? In the hands of an fish flashing and, therefore, at expert the Alexandra is a killing its prettiest, and most easily lure, no doubt, but it is not allows one to return the under
One of my
sized fish unharmed. Blessed The bigotry of anglers for word Sportsmanlike! And coarse fish, again, is such that then he boils over with in- nine out of every ten will not dignation at the thought of hear of fishing with fly, or of dead-gorge fishing. The other anything like it. In the months quietly reminds the spinner of summer, chub, dace, rudd, that it was not dead - gorge sometimes roach,
rise fishing but the dead - snap briskly to a fly, or to a meaty tackle that he was speaking lure presented on fly-fishing of, and with the attractions tackle; yet rather than try of dead-snap tackle he deaves them with these, the anglers us by the hour. Of course it keep on hopelessly in the old is useless for me to attempt reel-raal. to compose them by pointing Enough of these anglers as out that the spinner is accus- bigots. There are others tomed to fish big sheets of bigots of a moment for strikwater, lakes, and heavy rivers, ing, bigots for striking at no and the other meres and quiet moment, he who is known as pools o'ergrown with water- the “oldest local fisherman.” lilies—dangerous quarters where But I must leave some spinning is impossible, and the unmentioned for company's manipulation of the dead-snap sake. I do not wish that tackle and the live bait is a fine the angling bigot with whom,
But I manage to sit on after all, I am best acquainted, the rail by advocating the should stand alone with his Paternoster!