Thomas Best.

A concise treatise on the art of angling : confirmed by actual experience, interspersed with several new and recent discoveries, the whole forming a complete museum for the lovers of that pleasing and rational recreation online

. (page 7 of 13)
Online LibraryThomas BestA concise treatise on the art of angling : confirmed by actual experience, interspersed with several new and recent discoveries, the whole forming a complete museum for the lovers of that pleasing and rational recreation → online text (page 7 of 13)
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CHAP. ri.


Hog*s Dotsm,

COMBED from the roots of the bristles of
black J^edy whitish, and sandy-cpXoixxeA hogs;
the white down you may have dyed to any colour
you like. It is excellent dubbing, because it will
stand the water and shines well. To be a com-
petent judge of the real colour of any dubbing,
you must hold it between the sun and your eyes.
This is a standing rule when you imitate k fly*

CameVi Hair,

Of a dark and light colour, and one in the
medium of both«

Badgtr^s Hair,

The brown soft fur which is on the skin^ and
ihe blackest*

Bear's Hair,

Grey^ dun, light and dark coloured, bright
-brown, and shining brown.


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colt's OB CALVB's HAIR. p9

SpanicVs Hair,

From the different parts x)f a spaniel, especi-
ally from behind the ear, brown, dark brown,
light brown, and black.

Sheep^s fVool,

Of-all colours, both natural and artificial; you
may have it dyed to any colour.

SeaFs Fur,

To be had at the trunk-makers ; get it dyed
from the lightest to the darkest brown, and you
will find it much better dubbing than dovr or
calves' hair.


Of all colours, black, blue, purple, white, vio-
let, yellow, and tawney, philomot from feuille .
morte, a dead leaf; ancl Isabella, whiph is b. whi-
tish yellow, or soiled buff colour.

Cow*s Hair,

The softest you can get from a black, brindled,
and rew cow ; and of these colours, have brown^
dark brown, light brown, and black.

Colt's or Calve^s Hair.

These afford very good dubbing, and a variety,

especially those hides that have been tewed, or

dressed in a Skinner's lime pit; but, as I said be-

E 2 fore,


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fore, seal's fur dyed is much better than either
cow'g or either of the hairs of these two ; because
It is not so harsh, and dees liot require so much,
trouble to work it on the hook ; and observe fur-
ther, that this 'fur is for small flies, and hog*s
down for large ones.


Both hair and worsted of all colours, blue, yel-
low, dun, brown, dark brown light brown, red
violet, purple, black, horse-flesh, pink, and


Off the squirrel, especially his tail ; a hare, the
part off the neck which is a whithered fern colour;
foxcub from the tail where it is downy and of an
ash colour; an old fox, and old otter, otter-cub,
fiitimart, or filitiert; a mole, a black cat'§ tail; a
house-mouse, and water rat ; a marten, particularly
from off the gills, or spots under the jaws, which
is of a fine yellow. These are all to be had at
the furriers.


These are the feathers that hang from the head
of a cock, down his neck, and likewise near his
. tail, they are particularly used in making the pal-
mer fly; get the following colours of them, viz.
red, dun^ yellowish, white, orange, and black ; let
not thcfibres of them be above half an inch long.
Whenever you meet with a cock, whose hackle is
pf a strong brown red, buj him, and make the



SILKS^ &C. 101

most of the hackles. Note, the feathers of a
bantam or cock chick, are good for nothing.


To make the -wings of artificial flies, &c. it is
necessary to be provided with all kind of feathers ;
procure therefore those from the back, and other
parts of the wild mallard or drake ; of a partridge,
particularly the red ones in the tail; those of a
cock-pheasant's breast and tail ; also the wings
of a stare or starling, jay, land-rail, black birdj
throstle, field Fare, water-coot, and a brown hen ;
likewise the top, or cop, of a pevit, plover, or
lap-wing, peacocVs herl, green, copper-coloured,
and white, also black ostrich's hen, arwi feathers
from the neck and wings of a heron. Observe,
that in many instances hereafter that you will
meet with, where the mallard's feather is set
down for the wings of an artificial fly, that the
starling will be preferable, because it is of a
finer grain, and will not imbibe the water so

Carpets q,nd Blankets.

There is very good dubbing to be got from
blankets, also from an old Turkey carpet ; un-
twist the yarn, and pick out the wool, then sepa-
rate the colours, wrap them up in different pa-
pers, and lay th^m by.

Silks, S^c.

Of all colours, straw silk, gold and silver flat-
ted wire, or twist; hooks in small chip boxes^
with the number of the site of each marked on
£ 3 the

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the outside : wax of all colours, and needles ; a
sharp pen-knife, and a small shsurp pair of scis«
sars, made quite angular, witli large bows for
the fingers.

N. B. When you make the palmer-fly, suit the
colour of the silk to the hackle you dub with ; a
dun backle requires yellow silk ; a black hackle,
sky«-«blue silk ; a brown, or red hackle, red silk ;
when you make flies that are not palmers, dub
with sUk that resembles the colour most predo-
minant in the fly; and in making your flies, re-
member to mix bear's hair and hog's down, with
your other dirbbihg, because they repel the wa-
ter; make your flies alw6,ys in hot sun-shhiy
weather, for your waxed silk will then draw
jbindiy; and When you take the dubbing to imi-
tate a fly, always wet it, and then y6u will be
perfect in j-our imitation; for although the dub-
bing when dry may suit, yet when it in wet it
may be quite another colour. Marten's fur 10
the* best yellow you can use,

How to make the Palmer and May-Fly.

First lay all the materials by the side of you,
viz. half a yard of fine round even silk worm gut:
half a yard of red silk^ well w^xed with wax of
the same colour; a hook, the size No. 6: a nee-
dle ; some strands of an osLiich's feather, and
a fine red hackle : then take the hook, and. hold
it by the bend, between the fore-finger and
thumb of your left hand, with the shank to-
wards your right hand, and with the point and
beard of your hook not under your fingers,
but nearly parallel with the tops of them : after-
YfOfc^ take the silk, and hold it likewise about
tlao loiddle of it, with your hook, one part laying
^. M ■ alongr

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tilong the inside of it to your left hand/the other
to the right ; then take that part of the silk which
lies towards your right hand, between the fore
finger and thumb of that hand, and holding that

f)airt towards your left, tiglit along the inside of the
look, whip that to the right, three or four times
round the shank of the hook towards the right
hand ; after which take the silk zoormgut, and lay
either of its ends along the inside of the shank of
the hook, till it comes near the bend of it : then
hold the hook, silk, and gut, tight between the .
fore-finger and thumb of your left hand, and af-
terwards give that part of the silk to your right
hand, three or four whips more over both hook
and gut till it comes near the end of the shank,
and make a loop and faaten it tight : then whip
it neatly again over both silk, gut, and hook, tili'
it comes near the bend of the look : after which
make another loop, and fasten it again: then, if
the gut shotild reach farther than the bend of the
hook, cut it off, and your hook will be whipped on,
and the parts of the silk haiig from the bend of it.
Having proceed so far, wax the longest end of
the silk again, and take three or four strands of an
ostrich's feather, and holding them and the hook,
as in the first position, the feathers to the left hand,
and the roots of theni in the bend of the hook, with
the silk that you waxed last, whip them three or
four times round, make a loop, and fasten them
tight ; then turning the strands to the right hand, '
and twisting them and the silk together, with the
fore-finger and thumb of your right hatid, wind
them round the shank of the hook till you come to ,
the place where you first fastened, then make a
loop, and fasten them again ; if the strands should
not be long enough to wind as far as is necessary

E 4 round

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ronnd the &hank^ when the silk gets bare yottmnst
twist others on it. Having performed this, take
your scksars and cut the body of tire palmer into
an oval form, that is, small at the bend and the
end of the shank, but full in the centre; do not cut
too.much of' the dubbing oflf. Now both the ends of
the silk are separated, one at the bend, Miotherat
the end of the shank, wax them both again ; then
take the hackle, hold the small end of it between
the fore-finger and thurabof your left hand, and
stroke the fibres of it ^^ith those of your right the
contrary way from which they are formed; hold
'j'our hook as in the first position, and place the
point of the hackle in its bend, with that sicfc
which grows nearest the cock upwards, and then
whip it tight to the hook ; but in fastening it,
tie as few fibres in as you caa possibly avoid : the
hackle being f^t, take it by the great end, and
keeping the side nearest the cock to the left hand>
begin with your right hand to wind it up the
shank upon the dubbing, stopping every seconcji
tuna, and holding what you have wound tight
with your left fingers, whilst with the needle you
pick out the fibres you will unavoidably take in ;
proceed in this manner till you come to the place
where you first fastened, and where an end of the
silk is : then clip off those fibres of the hackle
VrhicI;^ you held between your finger and thumb,
close to the stem, and hold the stem close to the
hook ; afterwards tak^ the silk in your right hand,
and whip the stem very fast to the hook ; then
make a loop, and fasten it tight: take your pen-
knife, and if that part of she stem next the shank
of the hook is as long as a part of the book which
is tiare, pare it it fine, wax your silk, and bind it
neatly on the remaining bare part of the hook ;

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thep fasten the silk tight, and spread some Aoe-
maker's wax very lightly on your last bindinc ;
after that clip off the ends of the remaining silk,
both at the shank and bend of the hook,, and all
fibres that start or stand ill-conditioned, and the
whole is completed.

This is called the palmer-fly or plain hackle^
and may, instead of the ostrich's feather above-
mentioned, be dubbed with black spaniel's fur,
and is a very excent killer. There are three more
palmers, which are all to be made in the same
manner as I have laid down, only with diflFerent
articles, which are as follows ; , .

Great Palmer, or Hackle. i,

Dubbed the same as the plain hackl& with the
strands off an ostrich's feather, or a black spd-
. niel's fur, and warped with red peacock's haCKii,
xmtrimmed, that is, leaving the whole length of
the hackle staring out (for sometimes the fibres^-of
the hiackle are to be shortened ail over, some-
times barbed only a little, and sometimes close
underneath) leaving the whole length of filnresoti
the top, or back of the fly, which nlakes it swim
better, and, on a whirling ground water, kills
great fish. Your hook for this^palmer. No. 5*

Golden Palmer, or Hackle*

The same dubbing, ribbed with gold twist, and!a
red hackle over alL

'- • . '■

Silver Hackle.

■ ' -r

Made with a'black body also, silver twist over
that^ and a red hackle over all.

b5 The

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The variation that is to be observed in making
the gold and silver palmers iff this, that when you
^^hip the end of the hackk to the bend of the
hooK, you must also do the same to the gold or
silV6r twhty and first wind either of them on the
-dubbing, observing that they lie flat on it, and
then fasten- off; afterwards proceed with the
liacfele as directed : or you may wind the hackle
'<^n the dubbing first, and rib the body with either
of the twists afterwards.

Tliese are the standard hackles in flv-fishing,

and Urfc taken any month in' the year, n-om nine,

to eleven in the morning, and from one to three

in the evening and upon any water ; though you

must have differeht sizes of them, and dubbed

Mfttbi tlKfife*'€»l colwrs> that you may always .

>be4ible to SNit either e cleajror a dark water, or a

,bltgkt a^ clo«dy ataiosphere ; observing,^' that

'small light^i:^Qlonred flies are for clear waters and

flkiesi anfd the largest for dark and cloudy ones.

. /TJbe^e fahncr$ {^ I said before) being tak^i

icv^y wwMi ih in tlite year, when I come to treat of

(tJie jfliciB iproper f(Mr each month, I shall not take

iahy notioe again of the four which I have

. f et down, foftr that woitld be totally unnecessary ^

but the dtbers that deviate in their size and dub-

bififf from the general rule, will be fully expressed..

1 he angler sbonH always try the f aimers firsts
when he fishes in a river that he^s unaccustomed-
*^to ; arid eveti in that which he constantly uses,
without he knows what fly is on the Water, and.
they should never be changed till he does ; the only
way to come to the true knowledge of which, he
must observe an old-established riile laid down for
that purpose ; and as it is poetically described by.
.Mf . Gay, I shall give it him in that dress.


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Mark well the various seasons of the year.

How the succeeding insect race appear.; ^

In thisrevolvingmoon one colour reij^ns,

Which in the next the fickle trout disdains.

Oft have I seen a skilful angler tiy

The various colours of the treach'rous flv ;,

When he with fruitless pain hath skimn^ d the brook.

And the coy fish rejects the skipping hook,

He shakes the boughs, that on the margin grow.

Which o'er the stream a waving forest throw ;

When if an insect fall (his certain guide)

He gently takes him from the whirnng tide :

Examines well his form with curious e^es,

His gaudy vest, wings, his horns, and size ;

Then round his hook the cliosen fiir he winds,'

And on the back a speckled feather binds ;

So just the colours shine through ev'ry part,

That Nature seems to live again in art.

The best Method to make an Artificial fly, n6t nr

First hold yoiir hook fast betwixt the fore-
finger and thumb of your left hand, with the
back of the shank upwards, and the point to-
wards your right hand ; then take a strong
small silk, of the colour most predominant in
the fly you intend to make, wax it well with the
wax of the same colour, and draw it between your
finger and thumb to the head of the shank, then
whip it twice or thrice about the bare hook, whidh
prevents it slipping, and the shank of the hook
from cutting the gut : which being done, take
your gut and draw it likewise between your fin-
ger and thumb, holding the hook so fast as only
to suffer it to pass by, till the end of the gut is
e6' near


108 -^BT or ANGtlKO.

near tlie middle of the shank of the hook^ on ther
inside of it ; then whip the silk twice or thrice
about both gut and hook^ as hard as the strength
of the silk will permit; after that take the wings,
whieh before you began to make your fly you had
stripped off the stem tor its wings, and proportional
* to it, and which lie with your other materials by
you, (as they always should before you begin) and
place that side downwards which grew uppermost
before,, upon the back of the h^k, leaving so-
much qply^ to serve for the length of the wings
of the point of the plume, laying it reversed from
the end of the shank upwards; then whip your
silk twice or thrice about the root^nd of the fea^
ther,. gut, and hook ; which being done, clip off
the- root-end of the feather close by the arming,,
and then whip the silk fast and firm about the
hook and gut till you come to the bend of it ; and
then, if the gut goes beyond the bend of the hookv.
cuiit off, and make all fast: take then the dub-
bing which is to make the body of your fly^ as,
much, as you think will do, and holding it lightly
with your hoojc., between the finger ana> thumb of
yourleft band, take the silk with the right, anA
twisting it between the finger and thumb of that
hand> the dubbing, will spin itself about the silk^
tfhich^ when it. has done> whip it about the armed
hook> till you come to the setting on of the wings ^
afterwards take the feather for the wings divide, it
into two equal parts, and/turn them haektowards^
the bend of the hook^the one on the one side, the
other on ttieather side of the $hank,)H>lding them
fast in that postui'e>. between the fore-fingei^ and
tii^mb of your left hand ; which being done, warp
theaxso down as to stand, and slope towards the-
Inend of tbehook^audhayingwaf^duptotheend

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of the shank, hold the fly fast between the finger
and thumb of your left hand^ and then take the
silkbetween those of your right, and where the
warping ends, pinch or nip it with your thumb-
nail against your finger, and strip away the re-
mainder of your dubbing from the silk, which wax
again, and then with the silk which is newly
waxed and bare, whip it once or twice about,
make the wings stand properly, then fasten and cut
it off: after whrch, with the point of a needle,
raise up the dubbing gently from the warp, twitch
off the superfluous hairs of your dubbing, leave
the wings, of an equal length, (or your fly will ne-
ver swim true) and the whole is completed.

In this manner you are to make the May-^y,
or Green-drake, and all other flies that are not
palmers ; the materials to make the green drake
are the following: Your hook must be No. 5, and

f^ou must have the white-grey feather of a malr
ard for the wings, dyed yellow ; the dubbing ea-
rners hair, bright bear's hair, yellow camlet, and
the soft down that is combed from the bristles of
a hog, well mixed together, the body must be
long, and ribbed about with green silk, or rather
yellow, waxed with green wax, and three Jong
hairs for his tail, from those off a sable's.

Or, the May "fly may be dubbed after this me-
thod. The body of seal's ftir, or yellow mohair>
a little fox-cub dow.ii, and hog^s down, or light
brown from a turkey carpet, mixed together, warp
with green and yellow, pale yellow, or red
cock's hackle under the wings, which are to be
the same as in the other method of dubbing it.

As I shall not mention the green-dtakt when I
come to describe the other flies taken in the month
of May, I will here give jou every particular con-

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cerning it. H« comes on the water the twentieth
of that months and is* taken allday loas, but best
firbm two to four in the evenings and Icills most
fish from the end of May to the ninth of June.

' How to di/etheMullarcTsfoatier ifelioxa.

Take the root of a Barbary tree^ and shave it,,
and put to it woody viss, with as much alum as a
wahuit, and boil your feathers in it with rain wa-
ter, and diey will be of a fine yellow; or get a lit-
tle weld and recou,^ and boil your feathers with'
them,, and it will answer the same purpose.



T SHALL begin with the month of
;*- March, that being soon enough to throw
a fly on the water ; nay, in some years is too'
sooji, owing to the backwardness of the sea-
son. The inclemency of the weather, before
that time, renders the attempt not only un-
pleasant^ but fruitless, to endeavour to take
fishes with the fly ; and the risk a man runs of im-
pairing his healtf), before the weather is mild apd
temperate^ forms an objection more strongly


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against it. Let an angler be ever so fond of fly-
fishings he will certainly have enough, perhaps a
satiety, between the months of March and Sep-
tember ; besides the mind of man is fond of vari-
ety, and there are amusements of the field very
pleasant and condpcive to health ; for I myself
am entirely of Terence's opinion, that

jidprimi in vita este utile, ut nequid nimis.



1. The Dark Brown.

2. The Great Whirling


3. The Early Bright


4. The Thorn^ or Hxtw^

thorn Tree-Fly.

5. The Blue Dun.

6. The-Utile Black Gnat..

7. The late bright Br wm..

I. Dubbed wilJi the brown hair off the shank
©f a brincHed cow, and the grey feather of a^
drake for wings.

£. Dubbed with the fiir from the bottojm Qf a
souirrel's tail, and the wings off the grey feather
of a drake. Or, dubbed with squirrel's fur, mixed^
with about a sixth part of fine hoe's down> the
win^ of a pale orange colour, taken from the-

![ailT feather oS a ruddy hen, the head to be
iastened with ash-coloured silk^ and a red UQ-
barbed cock'* hackle may be warped under the
wings, and a turn or two lower towards his tail,.
This is a very kiliingjly, and is taken best late in^
the evening of' a blustering warm day.

3. Dubbed with the brown hair off a spatticl^
taken from behind the ear^oi with that oS a red


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cow's flank ; the wings, the grey feather off a
wild drake,

. 4. Dubbed with seaVs fur, dyed a perfect black,
mixed vfith a little Isabellas-coloured mohair, the
body made small, and the wings off a bright mal-
lard's feather. J killingjiy:

5* Dubbed with the down combed from the
neck of a black greyhound, or the roots of a fox-
cub's-tail, mixed with a little blue violet worsted,
upon a hook, the size No. 9« the wines off the
pale part of a starling's feather. This fly is a kiU
ling fly y and is taken from eight to eleven, and
from one to three.

6. Dubbed with black mohair, upon a hook
the size No. 9. and the wings the lightest pajt
off a starling's feather.

7. Dubbed with the hair off a cow, or calfs
hide, which has been drest in a skinner's lime-
pit ; if you hold it between your eyes and the sun,
it will appear of a bright gold, or amber colour;
the wings off a feather of a brown hen.



1. The Dark Brovm. "

2. The Violet Fly.

3. The UttU WiirUng


4. The Yellow Dm.

5. The Horseflesh Ffy.

6. The small Bright


\. Dubbed on a small hook. No. d. or 9, with
brown seal's fur, or with brown spaniel's fiir,
thatlooks ruddy, by beingexposed to the weather,
nixed with a httle violet camlet^ warp with yel-


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low silk, and ihe wings off the grey feather o>
a mallard.

Kills best from eight to eleven.

2 Dubbed with dark violet stuff, and a little
dun bear's hair mixed with it j the wings, off the
grey feather of a mallard.

Kills very 'wellfrom the sixth to the tenth of this month,

3. Dubbed with fox-cub down, ash-coloured at
the roots, next the skin ; ribbed about with yel-
low silk, the wings off a pale grey feather of a
mallard. Or, dubbed with the same down, and a
little ruddy brown mixed, warped with grey, or
ruddy silk, a red hackle, under the wings, which
must be made from the feather of a land-rail, or
ruddy brown chicken, which is better.

Thisjly comes on the •water the twelfth of tMs months
end is taken in the middle of the day, atl the month through^
ttnd in hltistering weather to the end of June,

4. Dubbed with camel's hair, and marten's yel-
low fur, mixed together; or with a small quantity
of pale yellow cruel, mixed with fox-cub doWn
from the tail, warped with yellow silk ; and the
wings off a pale starling's feaifeer.

This fly is taken from eight to eleven , and from two ta

5. Dubbed with blue mohair, and with pink
and red colour tammy y mixed, a brown head and
light'coloured wings.

Thi^fly is taken all the month two hours before sunset
till twilight.

. 6. Dubbed with spaniel's fur, the wing's the
lightest part off a stare's feather.

Taken very mil in a bright day and dear water^


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The May-fly,

J. The Dun Cut. \ 5. The Grey Drake.

2 The Stonc'fly. \ 6. The Camlet-fly.

3. The Black May-fly. 7. The Cow-Dung-fly.

4. Little Yellow May-fly.- \

•1. Dubbed with beards hair, of a brownish co-
lour^ with a little blue and yellow mixed with it ;
the wings off a brown hen> and two horns at the
head from the hairs off a souirrel's tail. Or^ dub-
bed with bear's cub ftir^ a little yellow and green

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryThomas BestA concise treatise on the art of angling : confirmed by actual experience, interspersed with several new and recent discoveries, the whole forming a complete museum for the lovers of that pleasing and rational recreation → online text (page 7 of 13)