The practice of angling, particularly as regards Ireland online

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are formed from wire, are often bearded
and pointed carelessly, and rounded in the
shank — a very great inconvenience to fly-

If you wish to change the shape of your

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hook, first put them into the ladle above
described, and insert it into a clear turf fire
until they assume a blood-red colour, take
them up, and let them cool ; they are then
quite soft, you can shape them with a plyers
to any form you wish ; after which again
put them into the fire, and obey the direc-
tions given above.


If yellow, procure as many of the heckles
of an old white cock as you may want ; sort
them as in sizes, first stripping off the su-
perfluous down near the butt, and tying by
the said butts closely together the different
sizes, if soiled or dirty they should be
careftiUy washed in soap and water, and
suffered to dry gradually. Make a solution
of strong alum water, which boil, and then
immerse your heckles for three or four
minutes, adding as much turmerick as

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will give the colour you desire ; and wlien
you find they have taken the dye property,
dip them in very cold water, and suffer
them to dry in the air, or near a sunny
window. Red heckles dyed yellow in the
above way are excellent on almost every
description of fly, particularly olives of all
shades. It is to be remarked, that the feet
of almost all natural flies are lighter coloured
than the bodies ; perhaps this circumstance
may account for the superiority of the red
heckle dyed yellow over most others. Of
dying greens, reds, clarets, and various
other colours I shall say nothing, for the
best of reasons — my want of knowledge of
the subject ; but as alum is the basis on
which all dyes are made permanent, it can
be by no means very difficult to gain infor-
mation as to forming the other shades of
various colours from hatters, wool-dyers, or
even milliners.

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And now, not having the fear of Sir

M 1, or Mr. J n H n, before

me, I will give the best instructions I can
for making this apparatus, so necessary to
all anglers, particularly to those who may
be driven to extremities.

Gret a silk line thirty yards in length,
which tie to a branch of a tree, and stretch
it well to take out the twist ; if it has been
oiled (the mode of doing which I have be-,
fore described) so much the better. Have
fourteen S's,* with the loops neither too big
nor too snail. They must be a little wider
than the thickness of the line, but not much.
If you have an assistant, so much the better —

* Small steel wire hooks by which the droppers are attached
to a swing on the cross line — so called from their resemblance
to the letter S.

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if not, a strong pin in the knee of your
pantaloons will render you independent.

Let the line be coiled up between your
little and forefinger rather carelessly, then
string up the S's on the line behind your
hand, or to your left ; then begin putting
on your first s, leaving five or six inches for
your first loop, then have some pretty strong
silk, well waxed, and lie it closely and
carefiilly on the line for about two inches
or a little more, this is called arming the
line, and fasten well. Then make a knot
on the line where the loop is or ought to be,
and take care that the knot is on the armed
part of the line ; then slip down your s, and
make another knot beyond it, nearer to your-
self, also on the armed part, (it is a great mis-
take to make the knot beyond the armed
part on the plain line, and this mistake
Ettingsall committed in his cross line ; the
arming makes it stronger, and the knot, which

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must be only single, more distinct.) You
now have your first s up ; you then mea-
sure a fathom, or six feet, which is a suffi-
cient length, on the line towards yourself,
and proceed in the same way, taking care
that no more than one s is let down at a
time, and keeping the remainder to your
left, towards yourself ; in this way you
go on arming, knotting, tying, and letting
down S's, every six feet, and when your line
with the S's that have been put on is getting
to a length, you can make a small roll of it
on a bit of a paper, or a little card, which
will facilitate your knotting. In this way
when you have fourteen S's up, which I con-
sider enough for a cross line, put a loop at
each end, to which single swivels are to be
attached, and your cross line is finished ;
but you must, either with nice varnish, or
well boiled oil, rub well under the S's, in
order that they should not too quickly wear

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away the silk tying, and there is no harm
in repeating this process more than once.

I have already directed how the droppers
should be made. They are usually of slight,
silk line. Mine are always of gut, which
are more expensive, but fish better, and are
not so liable to twist. Many use brass wire
under the S's ; but I prefer silk, conceiving
it does not corrode the line so quickly
as the brass wire ; and when the silk
wears, it may be armed again ; but it
cannot be expected that a light cross line
at hard work such as we had, can be very
permanent, or last for more than one or two
seasons, at most.

These directions will answer as to the
length of any cross line ; for a river five
flies are suflBcient, except it be very wide.
I will here relate a curious adventure which
took place on the river Donbeg or Cooraclare,
an excellent salmon river, but very foul and

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Ml of stumps. I had lost so many flies
and salmon by these stumps that I deter-
mined on cross fishing it, and I got a
tolerable angler in my neighbourhood to
accompany me.

We had a strong five-fly cross line, with
silk line droppers, and our flies on all good
three-gut ; and came on an excellent reach,
with a fine breeze against the current,
which was slight. We had only just com-
menced, when a large flock of tame geese
flew very swiftly over the river, and in a
direct line with our cross line. We most
unfortunately raised our hands, and in-
stantly had three of them firm.

It is almost impossible to describe the
scene — splashing, swimming, flying, running
up and down the river for nearly an hour ;
and, to complete our confusion, at my com-
panion's side, a set of outrageous women,
hearing the noise and outcry, came down,


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and if they could have got stones, would
have annihilated him, charging him as the
cause of the state their geese were in. At
length he was forced to run for his life,
having cut the line and the concern at once.
At length (but not until the geese were
nearly dead) I contrived to land the line,
and with great difficulty extracted the flies.
The reach was destroyed, my companion
had fled, the wind fell away, and I
walked disconsolately to the village of Coo-
raclare, about a mile distant, where I was
glad to take some rest after the great fatigue
and vexation I had undergone.

At length sunset approached, a little
breeze had sprung up — it just struck me that
if there were salmon on the reach just men-
tioned, they might, by that time, have re-
covered from the fright and conftision they
must have been thrown into by the geese
incident. Away I darted to the spot, and

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had not taken six throws, when I got hold
of a most noble spring fish ! Up and down I
played him for nearly half-an-hour, holding
him well from the stumps ; and I at length
gaffed him ; but off he carried my gaff, it
having got loose from the stick. I had
struck him, however, through the bone near
his tail, so that he soon turned on his side,
and I drew him at last to shore. He weighed
twenty-four pounds ! I had now, at near
nightfall, five miles to return, over bogs,
hills, and rivers, to my home, unattended as
I was ; but I was then young and strong,
and thought nothing of it. Now quantum

I was once much entertained by the
efforts of an angler to make a cross line.
He put up and enclosed his first s very
well ; but having forgotten at first to put
his remaining s's on the line behind his
hand, of course the knots prevented his

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going further. He then asked what he
should do. I directed him to begin at the
other end, and he accordingly did exactly
as at his first commencement. Not another
S was it practicable to put up. He gave it
up in a rage, and I suffered him to burst
in his ignorance.


This is a hook with an eye in the shank.
It is another Scotch invention, and as to its
usefulness may be placed on a par with the
newly invented mode of breeding salmon.
Any fly tied on a hook of this description
must be chimsy. It is liable to drop back
on the link ; the knot is more likely to
wear than on an armed link, and the body
of the fly will probably disappear altogether,
if the shank is not lined with waxed silk.
There is also another disadvantage : if you

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have not every thing laid out, and ready
to put on, and if you have to look for
any article, you must knot, for there is no
link to hold, and you cannot turn under the
shank ; at best, it is but a paltry saving,
and though it may answer tolerably for
a cross line, for throwing nicely it is too
heavy. A large-sized description of this
kind of hook answers well for trolling, and
a middling-sized one will do for retaining
the head of the bait in its proper position,
and may be used for the head of the shrimp
to keep it firm, after having inserted
the first hook in its tail, as heretofore

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A SMALL one-handed plane, with a double
iron, and an iron sole.

A large coarse cut file, and a smaller and
finer cut one.

A good chisel, and two or three half round
fine cut files, small size.

A watchmaker's microscope, particularly
useful in the inspection of natural flies, and
a great assistance in their imitation.

A large knife with a saw in one end, and
a strong blade in the other — ^the want of
which instrument is often sorely felt, if an
oar pin breaks under the rowers' hands on a

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lake, and that you happen to be on a lee
shore, pretty well tired, with a long walk

A good penknife and scissars ; a small
hand-vice, and a neat plyers, with two
rounded points, to bring any hooks you
choose to soften, to the shape you prefer.

Some good well-soldered loops for your
rods ; some tyers, that is, bits of thin sheet
copper, properly cut to fasten them in ;
and some solid loops.

Some good glue, some boiled oil, and a
couple of little bottles of varnish, which
you must keep well corked, and which must
be always warmed when you are about to
use them, either near a fire, or by being
put into boiling water.

Coarse and fine silk thread of all kinds ;
orange and yellow are best for fly-tying.
Crimson looks well on a rod. Good shoe-
maker s wax ; if you can, purloin a small

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ivory paper-knife, from a literary character.
Cut a little notch in the top of it ; it will
do better than a stick to push down your
hook, before extracting it from the tongue
of a trout or salmon. Have your priest, or
short stick always at hand in bag, basket,
or boat. A good No. 1 canvass bag, and
a tolerably sized basket, for eatables and
drinkables. It is quite unnecessary to say
any thing of rods, wheels, hooks, lines,
gaffs, or landing-nets — all these being the
principal items in your preparation, and
already particularized. But, as I am not
altogether a Mathewite, I recommend, be-
sides a supply of cigars, a well-covered,

well-sized dram-bottle, tolerably full..


The Dromore-sized fly, yellow tinsel,
and rough yellow mohair tail ; mallard-

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feather jib, with the silk turned under the

Rather smaller size, white silver cord,
rough green tint, same jib.

Same size, white tinsel, smooth green
silk tail, same jib.

The above three in their incipient state
of tying — the latter with deep-brown body,
red heckle from the tail.

Same size and colour, with rough yellow
mohair tail, and same jib — red heckle.

The Dromore fly perfect. The pattern
should be good.

Small size Dromore fly — both having
been often fished with.

Brown Westmeath fly, red eyes in the

Brown rush Westmeath fly, rale feather
from the right and left wing.

Claret-colour Dromore fly, widgeon wing
and jib.

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Inchiquin twist-bodied fly, cinnamon
colour body, red heckle, rale wing, and
breast feathers peacock, and peacock herle

All these patterns are excellent on lakes,
and on many rivers. The size may be
varied more or less, according to circmn-
stanoes The silk is left under the shank
of the unfinished patterns, as a direction
to young fly-tiers. See the diflerent in-

Lochaber grouse, middle size, which can
be also varied as to its size, either for trout
or salmon, and made more or less gaudy.

Many flies are tied with scarcely any
body, but a red or black heckle ; and they
do tolerably well in clear water and light
winds, and for small fish, particularly fiy :
but no fly is comparable to the pig's fur fly,
for when the heckle is cut, as is often
the case, the fiir can be picked out with a

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pin, and it may be all the better for the

change, as Corny said of J H n's

rod, afiber it was broken three or four

The small soft feather of the rale is often
used Lochaber way, and is very good at
times for small and middle-sized flies.

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OF nSH.*

The first of these acts that I purpose to
comment on, is that against standing nets,
stop nets, and still nets ; and so early as
the reign of Charles the First, we find the
government so conscious of the eventual
mischief of- these erections, as to have
enacted very stringent laws against the
offence of using them. I have in a former
chapter stated, that when the scull of salmon
is broken or impeded before reaching cer-

* This chapter was written in June, 1841, but is retained
for the sake of some remarks, which may still have some

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tain points, they turn back to the ocean,
and abandon the rivers they had sought
altogether, seeking other inlets ; but this,
and other subsequent acts, tending to the
same object, are defeated by the most
shameful evasions, and often through the
medium of the magistrates themselves, who
put forward, as the ostensible owners of
these obstructions, men not worth a far-
thing, and for whom these said offending
magistrates feel so much commiseration, as
to decline punishing them.

There is also another evasion practised,
and successftiUy. Copper and iron wire
weirs are erected, with meshes like the
hempen nets ; and our judges are so puzzled,
and our lawyers so intent on involving all
matters capable of a doubtful interpretation
in obscurity, that there is either no decision,
or one rather favourable to the culprits.
Of this I have been informed on good

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authority. Now let me at once propose a
remedy for this abuse.

Let the law be clear against the erection
of any obstruction whatsoever ; but let the
landlords, and those tenants entitled by
lease, have the liberty of drawing, with
legal nets, (that is, three and a half-inches
from knot to knot,) every day but Sunday ;
and let the townland on which any of the
obstructions alluded to are erected, or left
standing, be subjected to a fine of five
pounds per day, to be levied by the barony
constable, in the same manner as the grand
jury cess, or poor law tax.

Touch the pockets of these folk, and the
nuisance will be soon abated ; and let the
law be positive, decided, and clear, not only
with respect to salmon, but trout, which are
fully as fine and valuable a fish, particularly
in the lakes, where thousands of them have
been murdered by set nets, and equally

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strongly framed, for the protection of
spawning fish. If the fine were at once
leviable on the townland, the farmers would
be very cautious of permitting the advent
of poachers to their rivers. I am aware that
one of the acts levies a penalty, in case
collusion can be proved. But offenders will
not be ready to give evidence against them-
selves ; and the small farmers on the bor-
ders of the rivers are exactly those who are
the chief destroyers of the fish, or at least
who know who they are ; and very cautious
indeed would they be of suffering lights and
spears in their neighbourhood, if they had to
pay dearly for the permission.

Besides, let it be recollected (and I am
sorry to be obliged to make the admission)
that the Irish — I mean the least indepen-
dent class — are a people who, suffered to
infringe upon one law with impunity, will
think little of the infraction of others, until

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they are overtaken by exemplary punish-
ment ; and there is no lesson they dread
more than one which touches their pockets.
There is another class of men, too, who, of
all descriptions of persons, are the most
addicted to poaching. I mean pensioners,*
many of whom are perfectly well able to
perform garrison duty, who would as readily
carry a musket as they do a salmon-rod, and
could walk twenty miles a day after an
enemy as easily as in the pursuit of their
sport. Such being the state of things, I
would, with the greatest deference, submit,
that all the inland fishing acts should be
embodied in one comprehensive one, with
the following provisos : —

First — That there should be a complete
prohibition of the use of standing nets, stop

* In the case of the pensioners^ something like good sense
has been shown since the above was written ; but their sta-
tions ought to be changed.

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nets, and still nets, whether of hemp, iron,
or copper-wire, or any other material, in
all lakes, rivers, seas, marshes, slabs, and
strands ; with permission to the lawful
owners and qualified proprietors to draw,
with legally constructed nets. That all eel
weirs not patent ones, should be levelled ;
and that on no account should any eel-net
be permitted to remain after the 1st day of
February, which would prevent the salmon
fry from being destroyed so early : yet it is
not so with respect to the growing trout,
which, about that time, drop down to the
sea, and would shortly return fine grown
fish. That the police should be authorized
whenever they perceive an infraction of the
law, to seize and destroy all unlawfiil nets,
and take up all persons using lights, spears,
and gaffs by night, where trout and salmon
spawn. I am aware that the police are
bound to execute all warrants ; but, though

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they should catch the oflfenders, flagrante
delicto^ they must take no notice of them
without the circuitous mode of summons.
And then, who is to summon ? It is often
an unsafe proceeding. If two men are
boxing, they infringe the law ; and, if seen,
are brought up. Why not, then, unlawful
net fishers and night poachers ? The
offence is evident, and admitted to be a
breach of the law ; yet it is to be passed
over. This is a circumstance which should
not be allowed to escape the observation of
the legislature, and calls for remedy ; and as
our police have in general very little to do,
they could not be better employed than in
detecting those idle persons who are a
nuisance and a disgrace to the country, and
many of whom are well armed : and, though
I may be accused of holding some very
aristocratic notions, I will here, without
hesitation, declare it as my opinion, that the

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peasanty of the country should be deprived
altogether of fire arms.* They are much
better off without them, and would be much
more likely to attend to those legitimate
occupations to which they are called by
Providence. I would, moreover, provide
for the opening of gaps in salmon and
mill-weirs from six o'clock on Saturday
evening to the same hour on Monday

There is another disgraceful and cruel
practice resorted on the lakes and rivers
for the purpose of killing eels in summer,
when they are undoubtedly out of season,
poking with long spears, then dragging
them through the teeth of the spear, and
stringing them on a large cord half alive.
This custom, if permitted at all, should
be only tolerated in bog holes, but not in

* When this was written the' arms bill was not in con-

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any lake or river, as it scares away the fish,
and often destroys them. Both taout and
salmon have been often found wounded and
mutilated by this practice ; and it should
not be overlooked, any more than the va-
rious contrivances resorted to for killing
trout with hoop-nets, at the tail of mill-
wheels, turning water in cascades, &c. — all
which offences may be very well provided
against in one act, simply and plainly
drawn ; and it is to be hoped that, when
our legislators respire a little from their
more important labours and struggles, the
few observations and suggestions I have
presumed to make, may not be deemed un-
worthy of notice. Having so far, to the
best of my judgment, pointed out the defects
of our legislative enactments, I will, in a few
words, advert to the local mischief inflicted
on the country by the inefficiency or want
of observance of the present laws.

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A stranger who is a good shot, and an
angler, arrives in Ireland : he naturally in-
quires in what part of the country there is
game, or where it is preserved ; whether
there is salmon or trout-fishing ; and if so,
where. He will not go where he is told
that grouse and partridge are to be bought
daily in the market, as in Ennis, and many
other towns, nor where trout and salmon
are destroyed in every possible way, nor
where every one that chooses takes out his
gun, his dogs, and fishing-rods, and acts as
he likes, the magistrates not caring a far-
thing about the matter. No : he will go
to Mayo and Connemara, or to the north,
or perhaps to the Westmeath lakes, and to
those parts of the island where there is
some attempt at preserving game and fish,
and though in most parts of this country
sport of all kinds would be fully as good as
in the localities to which I allude ; yet,

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from the almost inconceivable apathy of
those concerned, the real interests of the
people themselves are sacrificed, for thou-
sands of pounds would be expended by
sportsmen in districts which are scarcely
ever visited except on business. The pea-
santry would be employed and rewarded —
the country would be explored — and its
many natural advantages and capabilities
discovered and made known. Mutual in-
tercourse would be productive of additional
civilization ; and the resident gentry
would shortly find themselves rewarded
in the affection of their tenantry, who
would quickly discover that nothing ought
to endear them more to their natural
protectors than a strict obedience to the
laws. And here let me express a hope
that the ties which, at one time, bound
the landlord and tenant together, may
be once more strongly cemented, that dis-

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turbance and agitation may cease — and
that all parties may league for one effi-
cient end —


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Online LibraryO'GormanThe practice of angling, particularly as regards Ireland → online text (page 6 of 10)