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Edward Fitzgibbon.

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BOWNESS & BOWNESS,
Fift&mg &o& STadtle

MAKERS,

230, STRAND, LONDON.
From BELL YARD.





THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA



PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



HANDBOOK OF ANGLING.



LONDON

PRINTED BY SPOTTISWOODB AND CO.
NEW-STBEET SQUARE



THE GOLDFINCH.




BRITANNIA.




ERIN GO BRAGH.




J .
A HANDBOOK

OF



ANGLING:

TEACHING

FLY-FISHING, TKOLLING, BOTTOM-FISHING,
AND SALMON-FISHING.

WITH THE NATURAL HISTOEY OF RIVER FISH, AND
THE BEST MODES OF CATCHING THEM.



EPHEMERA

Of Bell's Life in London,

AUTHOR OF 'THE BOOK OF THE SALMON 5 ETC.



* I have been a great follower of fishing myself, and in its cheerful solitude
have passed some of the happiest hours of a sufficiently happy life.' PALEY.



FOURTH EDITION



LONDON:

LONGMANS, GKEEN, AND CO.
1865.



PKEFACE



THE THIRD EDITION.



To the previous editions of this practical work
I prefixed somewhat lengthened prefaces. They
were then necessary, as a bush is to a new tavern
not as yet renowned for its good wine. The words
* Third Edition' in the present title-page are
more significant than any preface. They prove
that I am still called for in the fishing market.
I obey the call, am thankful for the favour I have
found, and shall say very little more.

Five years have elapsed since I read this angling
treatise through and through. Recently I have
done so twice in preparing this third edition.
The book appeared to me as if it had been written
by another like a long-absent child whose
features I had almost forgotten. I could judge
of it then with less partiality than when it was
fresh from my brain, and bore the defect-covering



K3FM



VI PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.

charms of a newly-born. Its defects, though
perpetrated by myself, I have seen as plainly as
if they were done by others, and I have treated
them accordingly removed them remorselessly.

I have, I think, improved the general style of
the volume; excised repetitions, rejected incor-
rect instruction, unsound suggestion, opinion, and
advice, and replaced them by accurate information
and counsel. The list of trout-flies I have short-
ened and simplified, and given no fancy patterns.
As it now stands, the list is perfect. The natural
history of salmon I have re-written. As a resum
of the habits of that fish, I can recommend it for
its precise truths. The list of salmon-flies for the
best rivers in the British Isles I have remodelled
after the best specimens in that gallery of ideal
insect beauties which I painted for ( The Book
of the Salmon.'

At this third time of asking, gracious Public,
you shall take me absolutely for better, as the
4 or for worse ' can be no longer contingent.



CONTENTS



CHAPTEK I.

Angling defined. Divided into three branches into Fly-fish-
ing, Trolling, and Bottom-fishing. Each briefly described.
The superiority and merits of Fly-fishing . . . PAGE 1

CHAPTER II.

Throwing the line and flies. Humouring them. Fishing a Stream.
Striking, hooking, playing, and landing a Fish . . 11

CHAPTEK III.
On Artificial Flies 46

CHAPTEK IV.
Fly-dressing 70

CHAPTER V.
Monthly List of Artificial Flies 93

CHAPTER VI.
Fishing with the Natural Fly, or Dibbing or Daping . 121

CHAPTER VII.

Trolling. Rods, Lines, Tackle, and Baits, and Methods of Using
them . . 135



Vlll CONTENTS.

CHAPTEK VIII.
On Bottom-fishing. Eods, Hooks, Lines, and Baits . PAGE 177

CHAPTEE IX.
On Piscatorial Physiology, by Erasmus Wilson, F.E.S. . 217

CHAPTEE X.

The Habits of the Angler's Fish, and the best ways of catching
them fairly. A New Natural History of the Salmon, and a
New List of Salmon and Lake Flies. How to throw and
humour them in fishing for Salmon. How to hook and play
that Fish its haunts, and other Baits for it besides Artificial
Flies. The Trout, Grayling, Pike, and all the Carp Tribe,
described. Their Habits, Haunts, and Favourite Baits pointed
out 230



HANDBOOK OF ANGLING.



CHAPTER I.

ANGLING DEFINED DIVIDED INTO THEEE SEARCHES
EACH BEIEFLY DESCKIBED THE STIPEEIOEITY AND
MEEITS OF FLY-FISHING.

ANGLING the art of taking fish with rod, line,
and hook, or with line and hook only is one of
the oldest of out-door amusements and occupa-
tions in every country. At first the modes of
practising it were exceedingly rude, and they still
remain so amongst uncivilised nations. There
are tribes in existence that now, as heretofore,
fashion the human jaw-bones into fish-hooks.
Even unto this day angling implements, amongst
many of the politest people of Europe, their
amusements, unfortunately for themselves, being
chiefly in-door ones, are manufactured with im-
perfect roughness. The inhabitants of the Bri-
tish Isles alone, with their colonial descendants

B



2 ENGLISH SPORTSMEN.

cultivate all matters pertaining to rural sports, of
whatsoever kind they may be, but particularly
hunting, shooting, and angling, with that perse-
vering ardour, comprising passionate study and
active practice, which leads to perfection. In
their efforts to acquire the surest, most amusing,
most health-giving, and, I may say, most elegant
modes of pursuing and capturing their game, be
it the produce of field or flood, they call to their
aid several ancillary studies, amongst which stands
prominent one of the pleasantest of all, viz. that
of the natural history of animals, and of other
living things ranking not so high in the scale of
creation. The hunter studies the habits of horse
and dog, and of the ferce naturce he pursues with
them, the fowler of the birds of the air, and the
fisherman of the fish of the water. The general
sportsman, a practical naturalist, if I may use the
epithet, studies the habits of all. Hence know-
ledge, skill, and success ; hence the accomplished
sportsman, rarely found except amongst the best
types of Englishmen, whether of high or low
degree.

Though angling has been jeered at more than
any other sporting practice, still no other subject
connected with field-sports has been more minutely
and extensively written upon, No sporting writer
is so generally known as Izaak Walton, and his
c Complete Angler ' has earned for him an im-



ANGLING SUBDIVIDED. 3

mortality which will last until the art of printing
our language shall be forgotten. Angling, then,
cannot be a theme unworthy of a modern pen ;
but the pen perchance may be unworthy of it,
and so cause me to fail in my design, which is to
write upon angling in a plain, connected, business-
like way, teaching its modern theory and practice,
together with the useful discoveries, inventions,
and improvements that have been recently made
in relation to it.

The art of angling is divided into three main
branches, the general principles of which being
understood, an acquaintance with minute detail
will follow gradually as a matter of course.

The first branch embraces angling at the sur-
face of the water, and comprehends fly-fishing
with natural or artificial insects, the latter being
of more general use. The second embraces ang-
ling at mid-water, or thereabouts, and includes
trolling or spinning with a live, a dead, or an
artificial bait with a small fish generally, or its
representative. The third includes bottom-fishing,
that is, angling at or near the- bottom of the water
with worms, gentles, and many sorts of inanimate
baits. Bottom-fishing is the most primitive, the
commonest, and easiest mode of angling, the first
learnt and the last forgot ; trolling is less com-
mon and more difficult ; fly-fishing is the most
difficult and amusing of all, and though less.

B 2



4 IGNORANCE ABOUT ANGLING.

commonly practised than bottom-fishing in Eng-
land, is more generally so than trolling, more
particularly in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Although in teaching an art it would be more
regular to commence with the easiest branches of
it, I begin, for several reasons, with fly-fishing,
acknowledging it, however, to be that division of
the art of angling which is learned the least
easily. I shall only give one reason for my ir-
regularity, viz. that he who has learned the prac-
tice of fly-fishing will readily learn the two other
branches of angling. He will learn them more
readily than if he began with either ; for he who
has begun with fly-fishing and succeeded must
have attained quickness of eye and lightness of
hand. If the reader should desire to be more
methodical than I am, he has the power of being
so, by reading this handbook as if it were written
in Hebrew. He will then find the last first, and
the first almost last. If he wishes for slow, but
sure advancement, let him reverse the order of
reading, moving from nearly the back rank to
the centre, and so on to the front.

The long-continued, unbroken chain of ignor-
ance that runs, in many instances, through the
world is almost incomprehensible to the active
mind. It is a miracle of visible darkness amidst
the intelligence that surrounds us. 4 The dic-
tionary-making pensioner,' as Cobbett used to



WHAT FLY-FISHING IS.

call Dr. Samuel Johnson, defined angling, as a
silly thing, practised by a fool at one end of a rod
and line, with a worm at the other. Many stupid
people still adhere to this very stupid definition.
With the practice of angling they associate nothing
beyond worms, punts, patience, cold and wet, a
nibble and tittle-bat sport. A salmon caught by
angling with a diminutive artificial fly, a thin
silkworm gut line, and a rod of pieces lighter
and more limber than a lady's riding wand ! No
no such prodigy in their opinion ever occurred.
Believe me yes, the largest salmon that have ever
stemmed the deep rapids of the Shannon have
succumbed to the cunning hand deftly manipu-
lating such frail gear.

Let us after this see what fly-fishing is
whether it is a fool at one end of a rod and a
worm at the other. The greatest names in arms,
science, literature, and art heroes, divines, ma-
thematicians, poets, painters, sculptors have
been devoted to fly-fishing. Nelson's 4 dear, dear
Merton,' with its Wandle wandering by, offered
him an attraction which he constantly revelled
in, viz. fly-fishing. Sir H. Davy, Archdeacon
Paley, Sir Francis Chantry, Sir Walter Scott,
General Sir Charles Dalbiac, were enthusiastic
fly-fishers. The Dukes of Argyle, Newcastle, Sir
Hyde Parker, Mr. Sydney Herbert, Earl Gros-
venor, Viscount Anson, and many other great



6 PRAISE OF FLY-FISHING.

names, connected with the pulpit, the bar, bench,
studio, and the stage, that I could mention, are
constant and consummate practitioners of the
pleasing sport. Even whilst I wrote (Sept. 1847),
Her Majesty, the royal Consort, the eldest of their
royal offspring, and a princely party, were indulg-
ing in the pursuit with rod and line of salmon
and salmonidse in the waters of North Scotland.
Had the lexicographic pensioner been alive to
witness this, how rapidly he would dele that defi-
nition of angling of his, which purblindness dic-
tated ! Other field-sports may be more exciting
than artificial fly-fishing, but there is not one re-
quiring more skill, or calling into exercise more
intelligence and adroitness of mind and limb. A
quick eye, a ready and delicate hand, an appre-
hensive brain, delicacy in the senses of touch and
hearing, activity of limb, physical endurance,
persevering control over impatience, vigilant
watchfulness, are qualifications necessary to form
the fly-fisher. His amusing and chanceful strug-
gles, teeming with varying excitement, are with
the strongest, the most active, the most courageous,
the most beautiful and most valuable of river-fish,
and his instruments of victory are formed of
materials so slight, and, some of them, so frail
they are beautiful as well that all the delicacy
and cunning resources of art are requisite to
enable feebleness to overcome force. The large,



THE FLY-FISHER S WEAPONS. 7

vigorous, nervous salmon, of amazing strength
and wonderful agility the rapid trout of darting
velocity, hardy, active, untiring, whose dying
flurry shows almost indomitable resistance, are
hooked, held in, wearied out, by the skilful and
delicate management of tackle that would, if
rudely handled, be warped by the strength and
weight of a dace or roach. 'Tis wonderful to
see hooks of Lilliputian largeness, gut finer than
hair, and a rod, some of whose wooden joints are
little thicker than a crow's quill, employed in
the capture of the very strongest of river-fish.
The marvel lies in the triumph of art over brute
force. If the sporting gear of the fly-fisher were
not managed with art on the mathematical
principle of leverage he could not by its means
lift from the ground more than a minute fraction
of the weight of that living, bounding, rushing
fish he tires unto death nay, drowns in its own
element. The overcoming of difficulties by the
suaviter in modo forms one of the greatest charms
of fly-fishing, and to my fancy is the pleasantest
element of success that can be used in any pursuit.
Persuade, but never drive.

The baits of the pure fly -fisher are imitations of
insects in one or other of their forms. He fishes
with imitations of the fly, the beetle, the grub, the
caterpillar, and moth. These imitations are made
of divers materials, the chief whereof are feathers,



8 FLY-FISHING ACQUIREMENTS.

fur, mohair, wool, silk, and tinsel. They are
affixed upon hooks of various sizes, and by a
process requiring the most skilful and delicate
manipulation. The fly-dresser is a modeller of
no mean attributes. He has to represent, by
means of the most delicate substances of varied
tissue and colour, insects, often complete atomies,
and of changeable shapes and hues. Extreme
neatness characterises all the paraphernalia of the
fly-fisher. His sport requires the handling of
nothing that will soil the best-bred hand. The
composition of his bait extracts pain from no
living thing. To know positively that his baits
are good, he must to a certain extent be a
naturalist. He must be acquainted with the
outward appearance of several sorts of insects ;
he must know the divisions of the seasons in
which they live and cease to be ; he must know
the climates and localities peculiar or otherwise
to each species ; he must know their names, and
be able to classify them, if not scientifically, at
least piscatorially ; he must know those that
prove the most attractive food for each kind of
fish he angles for : in fact, he must possess a fund
of knowledge that will cause him to be considered
an accomplished man by the .members of every
rational society.

To render the pleasures attendant on his pur-
suit complete, he is invited, if he seeks for super-



PLEASURES OF FLY-FISHING. 9

lative success, to practise it amongst the most
picturesque panorama designed by nature. The
swift stream that dashes along the hill's side, the
brook that runs through the valley, the moun-
tain waterfalls the currents foaming between
moss-grown rocks, or brawling over a pebbly
bottom, are the scenes of the fly-fisher's triumphs.
Salmon and salmonidse, happily the most frequent
prizes of the fly-fisher's skill, are not to be found
in the sluggish, turbid waters that flow through
flats and fens, but breed in, and inhabit, in due
season, those delightful streams that play through
table-lands. Their favourite food is not the offal
of slime or mud, but the insects that disport on
the surface of clear water. There the bounding
salmon tribe seek them, and in that search they
encounter the fatal artificial insect of the fly-
fisher, and all the deadly resources of his craft.
The shape, the colour, the flavour of the fly-
fisher's fish, do not mis-beseem the beauties that
surround salmon, trout, and grayling streams.
As the plain, nutritious sheep thrives well upon
Leicester and similar pasturage lands, so in their
waters breed prolifically the heavy carp, chub,
and tench. On the contrary, the heather of the
Highlands is the haunt of the dainty doe and
wild stag ; and the crystal waters of their inland
cliffs produce the aristocracy of the finny race.
The concordances of life, society, nature, are



10 MERITS OF FLY-FISHING.

admirable, unerring, and tally in delightful diver-
sity. The smooth waters of lowland rivers and.
ponds afford the placid bottom-fisher his sport.
The mountain torrents and lakes hold the quarry
the active fly-fisher is ambitious of capturing.
The broad, straight, even thoroughfares of the
world afford comfort and competence, acquired
bit by bit by efforts, slightly but sufficiently
stimulating to fresh and repeated exertion. The
narrow, precipitous paths of life lead to fame,
high honours, and high rank ; and the ascent,
rendered enchanting by the allurements of am-
bitious hope, is gained by daring activity, which
never flags but for breath to bound onward more
and more bravely. The accessible streams that
meander soothingly through soil for the sickle
and scythe, yield to the industrious bottom-fisher
a full pannier by a slowly and pleasantly accu-
mulating process. The fly-fisher, with haply a
few casts of his artificial baits, surcharges his ca-
pacious creel with salmon or trout, whose retreat
in waters rushing by crag and fell he has attained
by paths which none, save the sportsman intent
on high game, would choose to tread.

I have now run rapidly through the salient
merits of fly-fishing. With less precipitation, I
will explain the practice of it.



THROWING THE LINE AND FLIES. 11



CHAPTEE II.

THROWING THE LINE AND FLIES HUMOURING THEM
FISHING A STREAM STRIKING, HOOKING, PLAYING, AND
LANDING A FISH.

OUR LANGUAGE contains many pretty, pithy, and
largely expressive figures of speech. One man
says of another, s he is the best " whip " in Eng-
land.' We understand by this little phrase that
he is vaunted to be the best driver and manager
of horses in harness in the kingdom. So when
we say e he throws a line or a fly better than any
man we know,' we mean to assert that he is the
best fly-fisher of our acquaintance. The posses-
sion of the one power commonly, not always,
implies the possession of all the other necessary
ones. Throwing well the line is an indispensable
fly-fishing qualification, the first to be learned,
always called into play, and without which other
attributes are nearly valueless. You may hook
a fish well, play a fish well, land a fish well, but
you will not often have an opportunity of doing
so unless you throw a line well. We judge of a
fly-fisher by the manner in which he casts his
line. If he does so with ease and elegance, and



12 THROWING THE LINE AND FLIES.

efficiently, we set him down as an adept in all the
minutiao of the art ; if he does not, we conclude
that he is a tyro. We confess our conclusions
may be frequently wrong. That, reader, you may
not long remain in the category of novices, let
there be, during the fly-fishing season, for you,
nulla dies sine lined.

I can see no wonderful difficulty in throwing a
line well. Many certainly do not cast well, by
reason, chiefly, of having adopted a bad method
at the outset. It is better to have no fly-fishing
habitude at all, than to have a bad one. Com-
mence on the proper principle ; persevere, and
you must become a proficient.

HOW TO THROW THE LlNE AND FLIES. You

are a beginner, I presume, and have never handled
a rod before. Let the rod for your novitiate be
ten or eleven feet long ; its play inclining rather
to faulty stiffness than to over-pliancy. Put the
joints or pieces together, the rings standing in a
straight line the one to the other, that your line
may run evenly between them without any tortu-
ous impediment. Affix your winch or reel with
its handle towards the left side, and draw out
your line through the rings, until there be about
four yards of it uncoiled beyond the last ring
of the top joint. You have now quite suffi-
cient line out to commence the practice of cast-
ing with it. Let your winch and the rings of



HOW TO HOLD THE FLY-ROD. 13

your rod be on the under side of it when you
practise casting.*

You are now ready to begin. Grasp your rod,
in your right hand, a little above the winch, but
not tightly. Your hand must not close firmly
with the thumb turned over your knuckles, as if
you were about to strike a blow. Your fingers
must simply entwine the rod, not squeeze it, and
your thumb must lie straight with your arm on
the upper part of the butt, the first joint being
very slightly bent, and the fleshy or flat fore-part
pressing on the rod. Hold your rod up almost
perpendicularly, and pointing rather to the left
side. Take the tip of the line between the fore-
finger and thumb of your left hand. Poise your
rod loosely and easily, and see that it balances
freely in your right hand. Be devoid of that fear
which begets awkwardness. What injury can you
do ? You are not going to explode a mine. You

* This is the English, and more convenient method The
winch, being underneath the butt, does not come in contact with
your fore-arm as you throw, and therein lies the greater conve-
nience, but it is counterbalanced by having the rings also on the
under part of the rod, whereby the line runs and works upon
them rather than upon the rod. The Irish generally, and pro-
perly, affix the winch with the handle towards he right, and
fish with the rings upwards. In this way the line grates less
upon the ring- wires, and running upon and along the rod, instead
of beneath it on the rings, it is more influenced by the qualities
of the rod, and can be thoroughly managed by them. In most
cases, play your fish with the winch upwards.



14 THROWING THE LINE AND FLIES.

are merely going to throw a thin line with a
slight limber rod upon the water. What if you
fracture one or both in the attempt ? The damage
can be remedied.

I suppose you now on a bank above some river's
surface, all ready for your first cast. Move your
right wrist and fore-arm round to the right, let-
ting go, just as it begins to get taut, the tip of
the line in your left fingers, and bring round from
left to right over your right shoulder the upper
part of your rod, describing with the point of it
an irregular a horse-shoe circle, and then cast
forward with a flinging motion of the wrist and
fore-arm. The motion of the wrist must predomi-
nate over that of the fore-arm and elbow-joint.
If you follow the above motions exactly and with
freedom, from four to five feet of your line, sup-
posing you to have between three and four yards
of it out, must fall lightly upon the water. If
that length does not so fall, you are wrong, and
you must go on casting and casting, practising
and practising, until you are right,

At first you will find, unless you are very handy
and a very apt scholar indeed, that nearly all
your line will fall upon the water, and that the
top of your rod will come in contact, or nearly so,
with the surface of it. These are the greatest
drawbacks to throwing a line well, and if not
overcome, the learner must never expect to be-



PROPER POSITION IN CASTING. 15

come an expert fly-fisher. With might and main he
must struggle to vanquish them. They are caused
by letting the fore-arm fall too low whilst casting,
and bending the body forward in unison with the
downward motion of the arm.

Here is the remedy. When you have made
your casting movement brought round your rod
and line over the shoulder, and propelled them
forwards, the motion of the wrist and elbow-joint
must be gradually checked the instant the line is
straightening itself in its onward course. The
body must be upright, the chest held rather back,
and the bust must not assume any marked for-
ward or stooping position. You will find, if you
hold your rod properly, that the end of it nearest
to you, the part between your hand and the spear
or spike, will come in contact with the under part
of your fore-arm just as your line is approaching
the water. This contact will prevent the point
of your rod following the line so low as to cause
a great part of the latter to roll on to the water.
Stand with your left foot a little forward., and flat
on the ground, with a firm purchase ; the right
foot a little behind, the toes turned out, and the
ball of the foot touching the ground with a slight
springy pressure. Your left upper arm must
hang loosely by your side ; the fore part curbed
from the elbow-joint will bring your left hand
over and opposite to the outer ends of the right



16 THROWING THE LINE AND FLIES.

lower ribs. Your position, the limbs, &c. arranged
in the above way, will be easy and graceful, allow-


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Online LibraryEdward FitzgibbonA handbook of angling : teaching fly-fishing, trolling, bottom-fishing, and salmon-fishing ... → online text (page 1 of 21)