Edward Chitty.

The illustrated fly-fisher's text book; a complete guide to the science of fly-fishing for salmon, trout, grayling, &c online

. (page 1 of 13)
Online LibraryEdward ChittyThe illustrated fly-fisher's text book; a complete guide to the science of fly-fishing for salmon, trout, grayling, &c → online text (page 1 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


3Sw?i



->.,. -






"-.' r



TIM-



ILLUSTRATED



FLY-FISHER'S TEXT BOOK;



COMPLKTli (il Il)i:



SCIENCE OF FLY-FISHING FOR SALMON,

TROUT, GRAY LI \G.



THEOPHILUS SOl'TH, GENT.



T\\ KNTY-TIIKKK K\<iK.VVI.\iS. \1-TI-;J{ I'AI\T1N.> IJV ( nH'1-1!. NMUToX
J-'IKLDIN(i. Y. \. \.Y.Y.. AM) OTHI ; .1.'S.



LONDON" :

11KNKV G. BOIIN, YOKK STHKKT, COVENT GARDEN.
MDCCCXLV.



LONDON : W. SPIERS, PRINTER, 17, NORTH AUDLET STKBET.



THE

FLY-FISHER'S TEXT-BOOK.



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER. PAGE.

I. THE ANGLER'S PLEASURES 1

II. OF BOOKS ON ANGLING 5

THE ANGLER'S OUTFIT 7

SIEBE'S WEIGHING MACHINE, with an illustrat ion .. 8

GUT 9

SALMON GUT 11

TUOUT GUT 12

REEL LINES 12

SALMON REEL LINES 13

TROUT REEL LINES 14

KEELS 15

GAFF 17

LANDING NET 18

CLEARING RING, AND ROD SCYTHE 19

TWISTING MACHINE 20

THE FLY-FISHER'S DRESS 21

WADING BOOTS, with an illustration 22

III. FLY RODS 23

COLOUR OF RODS 24

TOP JOINTS 26

SPLICED TOPS 27

WHALEBONE TIPS 28

ASH OR WILLOW BUTS 29

HOLLOW BUTS 30

THE GROOVE AND RING 31

SPLICED RODS 32

ELASTICITY OF RODS, with an illustration 34

BALANCE OF RODS 38



IV CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PACE

HOLMES'S RODS 39

SALMON RODS 40

TROUT RODS 41

HOOKS, with two illustrations 42

IV. THE MILLS OF TREFRIEW, with an illustration 47

SALMON RISING 48

THE HABITS OF FISH 49

TOM AND THE SALMON 52

LARGE SALMON 54

SIZE OF FISH 55

V. HABITS OF SALMON 58

CASTING LINE 59

COLOUR OF GUT 60

DIRECTIONS FOR DYEING GUT . 61

RECIPES FOR DYEING GUT 62

RECIPES FOR TRANSPARENT WAX 65

COLEMAN'S INSTRUMENT CASE 67

LOOPS, with two illustrations 68

. WAXING 69

THE INVISIBLE KNOT, with three illustrations 71

FOOTLINES 73

WEIGHT OF FISH IN WATER 74

SIZE OF LINES 75

FOOTLINES 76

KNOTS IN LINES, with three illustrations 77

WATER KNOTS, with four illustrations 80

WHIPPING OFF FLIES 82

THROWING THE FLY, with ihreeiUustratioru 84

VI. FANCY'S DIFFICULTIES AND FANCY'S DANGERS 104

VII. RECIPE FOR POTTING FISH 108

THROWING THE FLY, with two illustrations 110

THROWING AMONG TREES, with two illustrations 125

THROWING" UNDER TREES, HOW TO DISEN-
TANGLE TACKLE 129

THROWING UNDER BUSHES .... 132

VIII. THEOPHILUS AND TYRO SET OUT 136

RECIPE FOR PRESERVING TROLLING LINES . . 137
THE RECTOR'S POOL LLANRWST, with an illustration 139

IX. SIZE OF FISH IN WATER 144

HEARING OF FISH . . 145



CONTENTS. V

CHAI'TKIl PAGE

COURAGE OF FISH 152

OPTICS OF FISH 153

WEATHER FOR FISHING 154

HAUNTS OF FISH 155

HABITS OF SALMON 157

POOL FISHING, with an Illustration 159

THEOPHILUS HOOKS A FISH 164

HIS MANOEUVRES 165

HE LANDS HIS PRIZE 166

STRENGTH OF FISH 168

THE CAPTAIN'S YARN 169

THE CONWAY 172

MIGRATION OF SALMON 174

GROWTH OF SALMON 175

NATURAL HISTORY OF THE PAR 183

SALMON FISHING IN SALT WATER 194

SALMON FISHING IN BRACKISH WATER 195

STAKE-NETS 200

DESTRUCTION OF SALMON 202

PRESERVATION OF SALMON 205

X. HAUNTS OF TROUT 210

CHUB-HOLES 212

BAIT FOR SALMON 213

FLIES 214

THE AUTHOR'S SCALE OF HOOKS 220

SIZE OF FLIES 222

A KILLING FLY 229

EVANS'S FLY 229

AN UNEXPECTED CONCLUSION 230



VI



EMBELLISHMENTS.



No. Subject.' Painter. Engraver. Page.

1 Fresh Water Fish F. R. Lee R. A. . . W. B. Scott . . Front.

2 Noon, at the River-side Newton Fielding.Radclyffe. .. . Title

3 Wading the Trout Stream A. Cooper, R. A. J. R. Scott . . 23

4 The Mills at TretView. N. Wales . L. J. Wood Griffiths 47

5 The Fisherman's Fire-side J. W. Archer. . . J. W. Archer 57

6 The Trout Strean G. Balmer J. W. Archer 89

7 Trout A. Cooper, R.A.J. Outrim. .. 108

8 The Rector's Pool, Llanrwst L. J. Wood . . . . W. B. Scott. . 139

9 The Pool A. Cooper, R.A. W. R. Smith. 159

10 The Wall Stream on the Conway L. J. Wood . . . .~J. W. Archer 172

11 Leistering Salmon on the Tweed G. Baliner J. VV. Archer 174

12 The Thames above Twickenham. J. Jackson J. W. Archer 212

AND MANY ILLUSTRATIVE WOODCUTS.



THE



ADDITIONAL PLATES

TO THE ILLUSTRATED FLY FISHER'S TEXT BOOK.



Llanberris Lake, North Wales page 48

The Common and the Brandling Trout 108

The Bull Trout 108

The Mealfburvonie Trout 109

Trout Fishing among Trees \'2't

A Scene near Beddgelert, North Wales 104

Salmon Fishing in Scotland 194

Salmon Fishing in Ireland 198

Trout Fishing -210

The Grayling 211



gurgling, glistening rockholes ; or pausing to
jidinire the majestic plunge of some adjacent
waterfall. What is so beneficial to a body worn
with the many cares of study, or close application
to a worldly calling, as the free relaxation inwhich



VI



THE



FLY-FISHER'S TEXT BOOK.



THE AUTHOR DISOOUflSETH ON THE DELIGHTS OP FLY-FISHINO SETTING
FORTH ITS SUPERIORITY ABOVE ALL OTHER SPORTS.

/"

WHAT angler will acknowledge other pleasures

equal to his own ? Yet is it not the sport alone

which draws us with magnetic influence to fix us

spell-bound by the river's side. No we have yet

a brighter source of true enjoyment in the pure

air and tranquil country scenes, which wait upon

our wanderings^ One while, amid the wildest

sources of the mountain stream anon, beside the

lovely lowland river. Now tempting its placid

depths of pool, its freshening runs, its eddy ing,

gurgling, glistening rockholes ; or pausing to

admire the majestic plunge of some adjacent

waterfall. What is so beneficial to a body worn

with the many cares of study, or close application

to a worldly calling, as the free relaxation inwhich



2 THE ANGLER S PLEASURES.

we revel when we quit the noise and bustle of the
crowded town, to feast upon the mountain breeze?
Or what can be so renovating to the wearied
mind as to contemplate Nature's loveliness, with
placid thoughts, which gladden and improve the
heart, and turn its peaceful reveries in gratitude
to Nature's God ?

Angling is a pastime which has been much and
frequently villified and ridiculed. I use the past
tense advisedly ; for since so many men, good and
great, rich and mighty, not only in worldly, but
also in mental lore, have appeared as its advocates,
it has long since ceased to be considered a mean,
or despicable art. Some few have ventured to
pronounce it a childish amusement : but I con-
sider that the love of it derives not its existence
from juvenile habit alone ; for though it mostly
" grows with our growth and strengthens with our
strength," and though the old adage "once a
chub-hole always a chub-hole," may fairly be read
" once an angler, always an angler," oftentimes it
will win a tyro of ripened years, or be adopted as
the recreation of old age. I need notice no more
striking instance of this than the conversion of
Sir H. Davy, who handled aj#z/-rod, at all events,
for the first time when he was Professor of the
Royal Institution; although he did so, under the
preceptorship of one who might, perhaps, re-
member the use of thread and a bent pin in



THE ANGLERS PLEASURES. 3

childhood, my late esteemed friend Sir Anthony
Carlisle. The bare mention of such name, is surely
enough at once to deaden the barb of derision.

(Some writers have expressed surprise at the
enthusiasm of anglers, seeing that the produce of the
sport seldom appears to counterbalance the general
disappointment and dulness. But surely they
have not traced the subject up to its source. The
sportsman's real object is not, in general, to ac-
quire a quantity of game; else he might purchase
it at less cost and with less trouble in the
public markets ; but it is, that he may enjoy the
pleasure of an art,} The game is but the means
of his excitement.

The quantum of success by no means consti-'
tutes the test of pleasure in any field sport; ds<
how insipid would be fox-hunting! But on the 1
average we fishermen catch as much per head,
compared with the expenditure of coin upon

tackle, as any other field sport produces under
like comparison.

I Dr. Johnson has the discredit of having defined
angling to be a stick, and a string, with " a worm
at one end and a fool at the other// this is a poor
illogical sarcasm. The doctor knew nothing of
the skill called for in the rare art. I know many
followers of the craft who by their skill would
have landed " the great bear" himself, with a gut-
line not thicker than a single thread from his

B 2



4 THE ANGLER S SCIENCE.

" three ribbed hose," and a genuine O'Shaughnessey
bend, with as much ease as the doctor would
have hoisted a minnow with Chinese twist as thick
as whipcord, and a No. 5 hook, from out the tiny
rivulet. I doubt not but that the science of the
fool would beat all the doctor's learning in this
respect !

Again as to the folly of fishing -if science be
the standard which should direct our choice, look
at the names of those who have from age to age
enrolled themselves as its supporters, and the dis-
ciples of Walton will then appear as the sands of
the sea, compared with the admirers of Nimrod.
Field sports are but " an employment for idle
time which is then not idly spent," and I know no
reason why the question of superiority among
them should ever have been mooted. But without
seeking to give offence to any, I might fairly
venture to assert that there are, and have been,
more thinking men among anglers than any other
class of sportsmen, and in my humble judgment
there is likewise more to think about. Let no one
in his ignorance say that there is folly in fishing ;
but rather take my word for it, that there is a
science in its practice and in the economy of fish,
the depths of which would not be sounded by a
lead-line as long as the days of Methuselah.



BOOKS ON ANGLING LONDON TACKLE THE BEST THE FLY-FISHER'S OUTFIT

SIEBE'S WEIGHING MACHINE GUT IN GENERAL AND HOW WADE

SALMON AND TROUT OUT KEEL LINES IN GENERAL DITTO FOR SALMON

AND TROUT-FISHING REELS OR WINCHES IN GENERAL AND FOR SALMON

AND TROUT LINES SIR F. CHANTREY's PATTERN GAFF SCYTHE BLADE

AND STICK LANDING-^NET CLEARING-RING ROD SCYTHE OR " ANGLER's

FRIEND" TWISTING MACHINE THE AUTHOR INFORMETH THE TYRO AS
TO AN APPROPRIATE DRESS.



I HAVE read almost every book on angling extant,
and out of, I know not how many, for Pickering
published a fearful catalogue, entitled " Biblio-
theca Piscatoria," at the end of his " Piscatorial
Reminiscences," and some have appeared since, I
cannot pick one volume that has pretensions to
anything like a perfect treatise. This is surely a
disgrace to our craft ; since it tends, either to the
conclusion, that there is not among us one who
can express his thoughts, if he possess any, as to
the practice of the art ; or else, that we are all too
jealous to divulge our secrets in a pastime so
generally enjoyed. Many of these books have
some good point or points, but none are altogether



D BOOKS ON ANGLING.

worthy of attention, in regard to their practical
information. Upon the subject of fly-fishing (al-
though it unfortunately gives no more than the
outline of bright ideas), the work which evinces
most thought and industry in its author, is Cap-
tain Williamson's "Vade Mecum," published in
1808. In another work, Ronalds' "Fly-fisher's
Entymology," the drawings and descriptions of flies,
natural and artificial, render it not only an acqui-
sition, but almost absolutely essential to an angler's
" armory :" and that author's observations on
the senses of fish, are, I think, well worth attention,
though I do not entirely subscribe to them, and
may have occasion to dispute their correctness in
some respects hereafter.

With respect to the fly-fisher's outfit, let me
premise, that it is not prejudice which gives pre-
ference in my esteem to London-made tackle ;
but rather a strong conviction that it is much
more serviceable, better constructed, and of better
manufacture and materials, both to the eye and
hand, than any which can be procured from the
country or even from the sister countries : and for
one obvious reason, viz. that we have in this
immense metropolis, the emporium of the world,
the greatest command of capital ; which always
attracts to it the best artificers and materials;
while the best sportsmen of all kinds (who, in



THE ANGLER S OUTFIT. 7

fact, direct the style of manufacture), always re
sort hither to make their purchases.

The requisites in the angler's outfit for a short
excursion are; two hanks of salmon-gut, three
ditto of stout trout-gut, two ditto, very fine ditto,
a salmon-rod of eighteen feet, a double handed
trout-rod of about fifteen feet, a light single-handed
rod of about twelve feet, two salmon reel lines, three
trout ditto,* a salmon-reel, a trout ditto, a gaff,
stick, and strap, a landing-net, one hundred and a
half of salmon-hooks, the like of trout ditto, a
clearing-ring and string, a rod-scythe (called by
its maker " the angler's friend in need,") and what
is equally useful, a gardener's pocket saw-knife or
hatchet, and a twisting machine, weight, and guide.
These, with a fly-book, will complete the usual
outfit.

But there is one other article, which, although
not prone to novelty seeking, I must recommend
to the notice of my brethren. This is the " Sports-
man's Weighing Machine." The principle of
it is somewhat the same as that in the com-
mon eighteen-penny iron spring balance : but
this to which I allude, is not only more correct
owing to the reduction of internal friction,



* A reserve of these last two articles is always desirable, since breakage
towards tbeir respective centres renders them comparatively useless.



SIEBfc S WEIGHING MACHINE.



idor



but being made of brass, and more
highly finished, is so neat and por-
table, that it may very conveniently
be carried in the waistcoat-pocket.
It is altogether a very beautiful
contrivance, and, by the way, ema-
nates from the same clever engineer,
who, amongst other things, invented
what is called, " Marriott's Patent
Circular Dial Weighing Machine/'
now so universally used ; as well as
of the well known diving helmet and
dress. These machines are calcu-
lated to carry any weight, measuring
by a quarter of a pound, up to lOlbs.
and 20lbs. or more. One for 20lbs.
is about half an inch diameter, and
five inches in length, and for lOlbs.

S *

it is much smaller. To fishermen they are de-
sirable instrumentSj because they reduce " fish-
erman's weight" to standard measure ! or give by
the waterside the exact weight of a fish the moment
he is taken : moreover, they are extremely handy
to test the strength of hooks gut-lines, and so
forth, and enable us to feel what strain we may
reasonably throw upon our rods, while playing
a fish. I need hardly say they will weigh beef
and mutton as well as fish: and are, therefore.



GUT. 9

of as much general domestic use as any other
weighing machine of this kind can be. The
maker has also contrived one still more accurate,
similar to the circular dials above mentioned,
which, though they weigh up to 30lbs., are no
larger than a watch made forty years ago these,
however, are rather more expensive.

I shall now devote some space to a more par-
ticular description of the good and bad qualities
of the articles mentioned in the foregoing list.

GUT. In choosing gut of any kind, be not
too much guided by an apparent thickness, but,
as far as your time and patience will permit,
select such as is perfectly round ; and to prove it
so, try each piece by turning it quickly between
the fore-finger and thumb ; for if it be in anywise
flat, this will only be effected with difficulty, and
then you may safely condemn it. Each piece or
length, should be also to the teeth, hard like wire,
colourless, and transparent as glass, which tes-
tifies strength free from unravelled fibres, which
are attended with an inclination to split or peel
knotted roughness, which shows almost actual
rottenness; the spaces between the knots when
pulled lengthways between the fingers, being soft
and weak ; or flashing* lights when seen in a
slanting direction, which indicate flatness, and
consequent weakness. It should possess stiffness,
too, in bending, and with this should be com-



10 GUT.

bined elasticity ; so that after being doubled
upon itself (in the shape of a loop for instance),
it instantly returns to its straight position. If,
in thus doubling, it assume anything like angu-
larity, it will not do for it surely possesses
unequal degrees of strength, even if, where it
forms into such angles, it be not absolutely rotten.

When gut is first imported, and before expo-
sure to the air and light, it is sometimes of a
yellowish tinge; therefore do not discard it on
that account, if it be at the same time transparent,
and possess the other good qualities.

Hereafter I shall explain how to dye gut ; I
would therefore recommend you to buy it in its
natural state ; whereby you will more readily
observe defects, which the stain might conceal,
and be also satisfied that deleterious ingredients
are avoided in obtaining the colour you require,
or which I may advise.

It may not be altogether uninteresting to learn
the mode by which this beautiful material is
produced, and which I find no where mentioned.
It is made in the silk provinces, where the silk-
worm is much larger than any we see in this
country. About two days, or less, before the
worm would spin its cocoon that is, just as it
begins to assume a transparency about the head,
it is immersed in an acid of some kind, weaker,
I apprehend, than vinegar, and colourless ; after



SALMON GUT. 11

soaking about eighteen hours, the insect is taken
out, and on opening it, two short thick lobes, or
guts, are discovered towards the upper end of the
body, perfectly transparent, though tinged with
yellow. Each of these, on being separately drawn
out with great care, stretch, and become opaque
as they do so, and ultimately transparent, to the
length of upwards of a yard, and are then left
upon the full stretch to dry, and the good part,
from ten to twenty inches, ultimately becomes
fit for use. For its thickness, its strength is really
wonderful, since, under fair circumstances, a
good length fit for salmon fishing, will lift at least
151bs. dead weight, when tested by Siebe's
machine. I have myself made gut out of our
native worms ; not fit for use, certainly, because
too fine ; yet the experiment was sufficient to
show the principle of its production, and there-
fore very interesting. We find it to be the silk
in its unripe state, and not a part of the organs
of the insect itself (as its name would imply),
that forms this invaluable assistant to our skilful
endeavours against " the shadows that glide
through the waters."

SALMON GUT may be in substance as thick as
you can find it, and you will possess a treasure,
if, in one hank, many lengths are as thick as a
middling sized pin, or stout netting silk. In
length, the part for use, should run from sixteen



J2 HEEL LINES.

to eighteen inches at least ; and the longer the
better, provided the substance be uniform.

The thicker TROUT GUT should be of the
diameter of ordinary sewing-silk ; whilst the
thinner sort may be almost the very finest you can
procure, provided it be " round and sound," and
keeping in view all other requisites for strength.
Ten to sixteen inches is the usual length of each
thread. " Store is no sore ;" so a few extra
hanks cannot be objectionable, especially as so
much is consumed in twisted lines for salmon-
fishing, one hank not making more than three
twisted bottom or foot-lines, as you will find
hereafter.

REEL LINES. I have had some talk with one
of the best line makers in London, who is a prac-
tical angler to boot, and he thinks nothing equal
to the silk and hair for fly lines, or the plaited
and prepared silk for trolling or spinning. We
talked of fly lines made of human hair, and his
objection to them was their liability to " sponge"
up much water, and to stretch and shrink to a
great degree. He had found them shrink a foot
to the yard in water, and if pulled when dry to
stretch in the same proportion. I have not made
up my own mind on the subject, never having
tested them in actual use. If, as he says, they
soak up so very much water, that is a decisive
objection. They are not certainly so strong as a



SALMON REFL LINES. 13

new silk and hair line of equal thickness ; but as
human hair is thought to defy the rot and ruin even
of the grave for many years, I feel satisfied that
aline of this latter material would be much more
durable; for the silk in the ordinary line is soon
worn out by friction against the rod's rings, if
ever so great care be taken to preserve it from
rot, and then its strength is gone. For my part
I never expect the point of a line to last above
half a season's fishing, although I never put my
line away without first drying it well. Human
hair lines must necessarily be nearly double the
expense of others. As to their elasticity I should
rather look upon it as an advantage than other-
wise, especially in striking and playing a fish.
However, take the silk and hair for the present,
for these on the whole appear the best. Some
persons prefer twisted silk alone, lines of which
are made at Nottingham. Some use twisted, and
some plaited hemp, which latter I know you can
meet with in Liverpool, though I do not recom-
mend them, because they are generally too stout,
and, however nicely prepared (which they may
be by being boiled in linseed oil and other secrets,
such as Marshall's preparation), I do not consider
them so lasting, or capable of being thrown so
lightly, as the silk and hair. Economy is their
chief recommendation.

SALMON REEL LINES. Now as to these, they



14 TROUT HEEL LINES.

should be from sixty to eighty yards long you
require this latter length especially, where a
salmon inclines to run much, and from your con-
tiguity to trees or bushes on the bank, you cannot
follow him or change your position. Another
advantage is, that as the end which is so much
on the water and so constantly passing through
the rings of the rod in shortening or lengthening
your throw can never be depended on for sound-
ness above one season at most, removing the
damaged part, sufficient length still remains for
ordinary rivers and places, while a joint or splice
in a line should always be avoided, if feasible.
The material, I repeat, should be silk and hair
twisted, and the end, for about twelve yards, may
taper slightly ; though, perhaps, it is as well to
have it of uniform substance throughout, of about
the thickness of the " D" in the third octave in
your sister's harp (to measure which, borrow her
string guage), or thinner than a new shilling,
which is strong enough for any salmon and any
where, provided it is used skilfully. Many old and
experienced salmon fishers adopt much stouter ;
yet I prefer fine fishing, and am ready, for a
wager, to kill any fish under 50 Ibs. in a tolerable
situation with the substance I allude to. It will
bear at least 18 Ibs. dead weight, and perhaps
more.

TROUT REEL LINES should be of the same



REEI 15

material, viz. twisted hair and silk, but necessa-
rily much thinner, and from thirty to fifty yards
in length ; or even longer for lake-fishing, where
heavy trout are expected. However, thirty
yards is quite enough for a light trout rod. They
must taper gradually for the last eight or ten
yards to the end, where, in substance, they should
not exceed the first " D" on the aforesaid harp
guage, or very thick netting silk, while the
stouter end should be about equal to the second
"D."

REELS. Be particular in the choice of winches
or reels ; they should be proportionate to the size
of your rod and line, and should carry the latter
easily, without being guided on in winding up ;
else there is fear of entanglement. Reels require
very good and delicate workmanship, great
strength, and little weight of metal ; all the parts
should be closely fitted to each other, and, in
particular, the inner revolving plate should be
well applied upon the exterior fixed one. They
should run freely, otherwise you cannot wind up
steadily ; and the larger the diameter of the
circular plates, and the narrower in proportion
the pillars or bars between them, the greater will
be the length of line taken up at each turn of the
handle. Your trout reel should be a multiplier;
but as the increase of the speed by means of the
cog-wheels diminishes the power, so for large fish,



16 REELS.

such as salmon, you should have no multiplying
movement. Both kinds, however, should have
check or click machinery, which prevents slight
catches from pulling the line off. Mind, I don't


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryEdward ChittyThe illustrated fly-fisher's text book; a complete guide to the science of fly-fishing for salmon, trout, grayling, &c → online text (page 1 of 13)