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and shall conclude this division of our subject, with instructions, in a separate chapter, for the manufacture of artificial flies. These instructions, we trust, will differ from those very generally given in works of this description, in the important particular of being sufficiently simple and complete to effect an object so much oftener attempted than attained, namely, that of enabling a person of ordinary intelligence to acquire from them' alone, with moderate application, a practical knowledge of the delightful art. We say this with some degree of confidence, because both the letterpress instructions and the diagrams which illustrate them are the production of practical flymakers, and have been prepared with no little labour and care; and because more than one pupil, possessing not the slightest previous knowledge of the art, have by their aid alone, in manuscript, become what many who manufacture books on angling are not—the makers of a neat and “killing” fly. In the choice of a fly-rod the purchaser must dismiss every idea of a whip, and remember that the great desideratum is power, not pliability, and that stiffness is one of the chief means by which
also treatises on “Hawkynge and Huntynge,” in verse, and also a treatise on the method of “Blazynge of Armes.”
that power can be obtained, supposing the rod be correctly made in other respects. It must be obvious that considerable care should be taken in the selection of this important implement, seeing that upon it so much of the angler's success depends. To insure a good cast, or to strike and play a large fish properly with a bad rod—that is to say, with a rod which is either too pliable in the lower part, and top-heavy, or else too rigid throughout and of too cumbrous a size—amounts to sheer impossibility. We shall endeavour to point out, before we have done, what we conceive a good rod to be, and although our notions may not exactly square with those of many other writers on the subject, we hope the reader will not on that account find them the less worthy of his attention. A good rod does not begin to play much till about the middle, whence its elasticity increases upwards in proportion with the gradual tapering. It is made of such just and correct proportions, and its pliability is so nicely regulated, that, whatever be its weight, it balances so well in the hand as to feel very light and free in using. Such a rod is—to use a figurative phrase —a rara avis—a thing so seldom met with as to become a curiosity—a piscatory treasure—ever to be valued by its fortunate possessor. One cause of this rarity is to be found in the circumstance that rod makers are seldom rod users: and should this not be generally the case, the chances are that the maker does not fully understand the principles on which a rod ought to be constructed. This may be called an ungenerous remark, but it is induced by our own experience and that of older and better anglers than ourselves—and the truth is not always ill-naturedly told. In our opinion, fly-rods for the generality of trout streams in this country — we mean not, of course, the few rivers to fish which a doublehanded rod is necessary—are usually made too large and too long, or else their length is out of proportion to their diameter—rendering them over pliable, and therefore comparatively powerless. A moderately stiff and small rod of eleven feet long, possesses infinitely greater power, and is infinitely more pleasant to use, than a heavy pliable one of fourteen feet in length. In fact, the latter has no useful power—it will not throw against the wind, nor can it well, indeed, be used at all in very windy weather. Some peculiar properties it certainly does possess, and among them are the undesirable ones of tiring the arm, failing to strike or play a fish well, and causing
constant entanglement of the line. The disadvantages of a long and over flexible rod are well known to us: we can, indeed, speak very feelingly upon the subject, for it was once our misfortune to be the proprietor of one. Its original cost was thirty shillings, and right glad were we to exchange it with a “brother of the angle” for a ten shilling rod, not above two-thirds its size, but the equal of which, for power and general excellence, we have never yet met with. Our friend, however, was well pleased with the exchange; so were we–very. It is but fair to add that good rods are nothing like so scarce as they formerly were. The last three or four years have seen some great improvements, and—from what cause we presume not to say—a very general falling in with the opinions we have long and repeatedly set forth. As from the wrist proceeds the chief action in the process of throwing the line, it is obvious that the choice of the rod should be influenced by the strength or weakness of that joint. What is a stiff and cumbersome rod to one man may exactly suit another of stronger muscle; and the same rod tried by a third person, possessing still greater strength, may handle light and airy as an enchanter's wand, and, therefore, will be to him, F.
comparatively speaking, powerless. A person may determine by a very few casts — supposing him to be expert in throwing — whether the rod he handles be adapted to him or not. If it be properly under his command, the force communicated by his wrist, in wielding it, will be felt at the very point of the line, and the fly there will alight upon the water quiveringly and insect-like. If otherwise, the spring required in the impulsion of the rod will be so neutralised by the overweight of the latter, that it will not be communicated to the line, which, in consequence, will be thrown solely by the movement of the rod, without any control of the wrist, and will always fall in an ungoverned and slovenly manner. Much of what we have already said and shall have to say in future pages, will not, we expect, be fully understood by a person wholly unacquainted with the art; but he will find it gradually become more and more intelligible as his practical experience increases. We therefore recommend a person desirous of making his first equipment, to act in some measure under the guidance of an experienced friend, if such can be met with; or else to rely upon the advice of the tradesman from whom he makes his purchases — provided he is a practical angler and an honest man, as indeed all true