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and for neatness and simplicity will bear comparison with the best. A test of twenty years
in the manufacture of many hundred dozens of flies of all descriptions, and a careful comparison with other methods, enable us to speak with confidence. But it must not be presumed that we pretend the art can be learned without considerable practice and attention. To make a fly in a neat and truly artistic way, by however simple a method, demands the practice of months, or, in some cases, perhaps, of years; but a person determined to succeed, and willing to pay implicit regard to good instructions, will find a few weeks, or even a few days, sufficient to enable him to make a passable and “killing” fly.
What we require as indispensable to the mastery of our instructions is, the strictest compliance with every direction, however minute; constant practice of each separate stage from the first and simplest, and the proceeding to a new stage only after the preceding one is completely mastered; and, lastly, patient perseverance under any difficulties which may present themselves, but which will thus really soon disappear. Before commencing a fly, it is necessary that all the materials required for the process of making it should be selected and arranged by the artist on a table
immediately in front of him, so as to be directly under his hand; viz., scissors, hook, gut, waxed tying-silk, materials for the body, hackle properly prepared, the feather with which to form the wing, and such other materials as may be requisite for the fly intended to be dressed. The hands of the fly-maker should be fresh washed, so as to be free from greasiness or perspiration, which would interfere with the proper use of the wax; and his nails should be long and pointed. These apparently trivial hints are really of considerable importance.
TO MAKE A RED PALMER.
We shall commence our instructions with this fly, because it calls in practice most of the principal manipulations.
The selection and preparation of the hackle require the first and greatest attention, not only in the case of the palmer, but also in that of every other fly. To give an idea of the correct proportion of the hackle to the size of the hook, for a palmer (and to that fly we now exclusively confine our observations), we may remark, that the longest plumes on each side of the stem, at the broadest part, should be about equal to the length of the hook-shank, whatever its size,--that is, from the
point f to the point d (fig. 1.); and that the length of the stem, when the hackle is prepared for use, and exclusive of the bare quill end, should be about four times the length of the shank between these points. To prepare the hackle for use, take it with the left fore-finger and thumb, at the point b (fig. 2.), and hold it firmly; then, with the right fore-finger and thumb, stroke the plumes the reverse way from their natural position, that is, from e towards d (fig. 2.), until they stand nearly at right angles to the stem, as shown.
The hackle thus prepared, two strands of peacock's herl, two or three inches of gold twist, the hook, gut, and waxed tying-silk (six or eight inches long, to serve for two flies), complete the list of materials for this important fly,—to the actual manufacture of which we now request the learner's attention, repeating our expression of the hope that he will follow implicitly our instructions, will master one step completely before proceeding to the next, and will consider each successive mastery in the light of an indispensable achievement.
I. Holding the hook and applying the tying-silk. - Commence by taking the hook by the bend, with the point downwards, between the tips of the fore-finger and thumb of your left hand, the shank
extending beyond your fingers and pointing towards the right, in a horizontal position. With your right hand apply one extremity of the tying-silk to the middle part of the shank,
Fig. 3. holding it against the shank with the tip of the fore-finger and thumb of your left hand, as shown in fig. 3., and, with your right hand, wind the silk up the bare shank in close coils (that is, in such a manner that each successive turn of the silk may lie side by side with the last,) to the point f (fig. 1.).
II. The Catch. - Retain the silk in that position by passing it between the third and fourth fingers of the left hand, as shown in fig. 3. (a). This operation, called the catch, is in frequent use, and is intended to prevent the silk from uncoiling while the right hand is engaged in collecting the materials, or otherwise.
III. Putting in the gut and attaching it to the hook. -- Lay the gut (a a, fig. 4.) along the under side of the shank, as shown in the figure, previously flattening the extreme end with the teeth, to prevent its slipping readily. Attach it to the
hook by winding the tying-silk back tightly, in close coils, over both hook and gut towards the bend of the hook, as shown at c( fig. 5.), in which
Fig. 4. a represents the gut, and b the end of the tyingsilk. Continue winding in close coils down to d (fig. 5.), being careful, during every part of the operation, when the right hand is other
Fig. 5. wise employed, to prevent the tying-silk from uncoiling by using the catch, as before directed. IV. Fastening the body-materials and hackle
preparatory to winding them. The silk is now in the proper position for this operation. Fig. 6. shows the method in which it is to be performed.