ultra-imitationists) entirely blind themselves to this latter circumstance. “Because A. caught fish yesterday with a particular fly,” argue they, “ therefore B. must do so to-day.” But it turns out that B. does not do so, that he fails, and perhaps wholly so because he could not, or did not, supply this very important part of imitation — action. We suppose everything to be equal in the case of these imaginary persons except skill, or something else on which this action depended. Every angler of the smallest experience must know how convenient it is to attribute unsuccessful fishing to the fly alone, and how very frequently it is unjustly done. It is the general characteristics of the natural fly which alone ought to be, or indeed can be, imitated; for all insects, especially those which belong to the category of the fly-fisher, are distinguished for their beauty of form and delicacy of construction. Let us, however, refer to what we have called the “main points” of imitation. Size: —this needs no more remark than we shall make elsewhere with reference to the adaptation of the fly to particular states of the water and atmosphere; Colour: —it is important, in imitation, to observe whether the general colour of the natural insect imitated be light or dark, warm or cold; and Form: — whether the wings are large or small in proportion to the body, - whether they lie flat upon the body or stand erect, whether the body is slender or thick. All these peculiarities, which together constitute the character of the insect, can be represented without counting the exact number of legs, or microscopically examining the fibres of the wings; on the same principle that, in individual portraiture, what is alone sought to be attained is not minute imitation, but individual character and expression. How does a man recognise his friend at a distance?—From that particular individuality which distinguishes every one, and which is made up of peculiarities of gait, contour, and so on. Precisely so is the principle on which artificial flies should be imitated, for it is that, in all probability, on which they prove successful lures to fish. They are not, they cannot be, exact imitations of natural insects; but their resemblance in general character is sufficient to produce the required deception, and that resemblance is by no means difficult of accomplishment by an experienced artist. Again, it is not necessary, in the construction of an artificial fly, that every part should be of the same colour as the part of the natural fly particularly represented; it is sufficient that the general hue be obtained. For example, if the insect imitated be of a warm or reddish hue, that colour must enter prominently into the composition of its artificial imitation, but not necessarily in the same identical part. In the natural insect it may be the body or legs which have this colour prominently, but enough will have been done with its “counterfeit presentment” if it be found sufficiently predominating in the whole production, no matter whether displayed in the legs, or body, or elsewhere. The same with every other hue. It is perhaps important that the character of the wing be attended to as regards its opaqueness or transparency; and it may be remarked on the form of the artificial fly, that as it is impossible to dress it sufficiently delicate to equal nature, it becomes necessary to exaggerate some parts, so as to produce a proper harmony and proportion in the general form; as, for example, making the wing longer, it may be, than the natural wing, in order that the fly may appear more elegant and bear a more correct proportion to a body unavoidably thicker, from the nature of its materials, than that of the natural fly. So much for the general principles on which we suppose the imitation of natural flies to be founded. We have already expressed our opinion

as to the occasional necessity for using imitations of prevailing species, and have laid down the general rule of confining the sorts of flies in common use to a very limited number. It is impossible to give infallible directions for the use of particular flies at every particular time, although we shall elsewhere do all we consider necessary. Much must be left to the angler's own judgment; but we advise him to be careful of falling into the error of constantly changing his flies when fishing, thereby perplexing himself, and, generally speaking, wasting time. Fish are proverbially capricious; and many of their habits, in regard to feeding and otherwise, depend on circumstances which, with all our knowledge of natural history, are not understood. The angler, therefore, must not be too ready to attribute his want of success at any time to a mistake in the selection of his fly. There are many circumstances to which it may with greater justice be traced. For instance, a certain fly is often thoughtlessly said to be refused by fish on the sole account of its dissimilarity to some supposed favourite species, when a little observation would lead to another conclusion, —a conclusion perhaps very different from the probably correct one, in many cases, of the unskilfulness of the angler. But supposing this to be otherwise,_supposing even the angler to be expert, and to have a good imitation of the fly at which the fish are rising well,— say a fly of the dun tribe, prevalent on cvery water. He makes his casts admirably. In the gentle stickle which hugs the opposite bank, a line of trout are rising gloriously; but not one of them is attracted by his well-presented lure. He throws, and throws, and throws again, but still with the same result. He is at a loss to account for the cause, except that it must evidently be something or other wrong in his fly. No such thing. We admit the fly to be a good imitation, to be nicely cast over rising fish, repeatedly, time after time, and yet with not a rise is poor Piscator favoured. Well, how is this? Piscator does not see —he is so wrapped up in the make of his fly — that something more than make is necessary; that under certain circumstances an imitation of the action of the natural fly is indispensable, and that when that action is not supplied, as in the present case, success cannot be had. But Piscator should reflect, and the seeming mystery would be unfolded thus: — The fish are feeding, as they delight to do, upon flies ephemeral, and have, perhaps, as the season is

advanced, become somewhat fastidious in their

« ForrigeFortsett »