Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

morphosis of the much praised and far famed March brown, or brown drake, as it is often called, which is a large brown insect of great beauty, and forms, if the inhabitant of another element may be allowed to judge, a very tempting and appetible morsel. It appears on the water in the middle of March, and continues about three weeks, and sometimes rather longer.” It is only seen in warm days, when few duns are to be found, and its imitation is used most successfully in windy weather, upon the ranges or deep parts of the river. In April a species of pale lemon-coloured dun, with delicate gauze-like wings, comes on; and towards the end of the month is succeeded by a variety more decidedly yellow, with wings of nearly the same colour as the body. The spinners to which these duns change are of lighter and darker red in proportion to the yellow tint of their precursors. As the season advances, the duns, in both their winged stages, become gradually darker, and by the middle of September they acquire the same hue as on their first appearance in spring. A variety

* When a fly is spoken of as remaining on the water for a certain time, it must be remembered that not an individual, but a species, is meant—a new generation being hatched every day, and often every hour.

called the September blue is very prevalent during the whole of autumn. It is very small and nearly white. The iron blue, or Scotchman, is one of the most delicate and beautiful of water flies. It is most abundant, on cold days, from the middle of April to the middle of May, but it is occasionally on the water through the rest of the season. Its imitation is in great repute, being on many rivers what the May-fly is on others — one of the best and most favourite flies. Its little body and wings are very dark blue, and its legs yellow. After casting its skin it appears in the very different garb of the white or silver spinner — the imitation of which is chiefly used in summer evening fishing. Of the British ephemeridae the largest is E. vulgata the May-fly. This beautiful insect, though totally unknown in many rivers, literally swarms in others. It usually appears towards the end of May, and continues in season about a month. It is greedily taken by trout, which soon give ample proof of its nutritious qualities; and its imitation — particularly if dressed smaller than usual—may be very successfully used, especially in windy weather. In its first winged state it is known by the name of the green drake. The female changes to the grey drake, and the male to the black drake—which last is seldom imitated artificially.

It is somewhat extraordinary—and we are not the first to notice the circumstance—that the natural history of the May-fly should be so little understood by many of the best anglers on the rivers on which it abounds. It is generally believed to spring from a cad-case similar to that of the stone fly. The idea is altogether erroneous. These identical species, indeed, are the leading English members of two distinct classes of insects, widely differing from each other, in their structure and habits, during every state of their existence.

The stone fly belongs to the family Perlidae, which is included in the same order as the ephemeridae. It is a very large brown insect, in season during April and May, and its imitation is only fished with in windy weather. To the same family belong also the yellow sally, appearing in May; the willow fly — a large insect, though much smaller than the stone fly, and easily recognised by its habit of fluttering about on the surface of the water; and the red fly, which appears in February, or earlier in mild weather, and continues till April.

CHAPTER IV.

“The rod fine tapering with elastic spring,
Snatch'd from the hoary steed the floating line,
And all thy slender wat'ry stores prepare.”
THOMson.

IN the natural order of our piscatorial lessons the selection of the various implements required for the pursuit of our art presents indisputable claims for consideration at this stage of our labours. It may be well to observe that we shall not attempt to give instructions for the manufacture of all the different articles, because such instructions would occupy a great deal more space than would perhaps be commensurate with their utility. Nobody, now-a-day, thinks of becoming his own rod or reel maker, except professionally. Most of us are too closely engaged with the active duties of life to find time for such a purpose; and those who are not, have rarely the mechanical ability, or, if so, the inclination, to apply themselves to the task. And the necessity for such amateur manufacture is obviated by the facility and comparative cheapness with which every article can now be procured in all parts of the country, in a style of workmanship unmistakably characterised by the extraordinary improvement which the last few years have so conspicuously developed in all our industrial productions, whether ministering to the wants or to the amusements of mankind. Except in the case of flies, therefore, to which these remarks can hardly be so generally applicable, we shall confine ourselves to such a description of the necessary implements as we may consider necessary to enable our pupils to make a judicious selection of them — to detect inferiority, and to know what constitutes excellence. We proceed first, then, to treat of the fly-fisher's rod, and then, seriatim, of his tackle, or, as it is called by Dame Juliana Berners, his “harneys,”

* This lady was the first angling author, or at least the first who published a printed book on the subject. She wrote that curious production, The Boke of St. Alban's, which was “imprinted” at Westminster, by Wynkin de Worde, the assistant and friend of Caxton. This “Boke” was published originally without “the Treatyse of Fysshinge,” which was added to it for the first time in 1496. Dame Juliana, who was eminent for piety and learning, and whose name ought to be held in veneration by anglers in all ages, was prioress of the nunnery of St. Sopwell, near St. Alban's, Hertfordshire, and her “Boke,” besides the “Treatyse of Fysshinge” already mentioned, contained

« ForrigeFortsett »