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anglers must necessarily be. We only ask of the pupil who honours us by accepting our tuition, to adopt our instructions in toto — to allow us to teach him all or nothing—profiting as he goes on by what his increasing experience suggests, so long as it is in conformity with the principles which we lay down. When he shall have gone through the book, and applied and mastered its instructions, one by one — when he is thus fairly out of his leading-strings, and in a position to set up as an angler on his own account, the matter is very different. He will then be at liberty to adopt what new instructions he may please — to study, compare, and practise them if he will. But, we repeat, to do us justice, he must follow implicitly our advice and rules; and if seeking the assistance of older hands, as we recommend in the selection of the rod and tackle, must listen to nothing contrary to that which we set down; else he will not be giving us fair play, and will perhaps find out, to his cost, in the end, that “in the multitude of counsellors” there is not always and in all things “ wisdom.” To some extent out of curiosity, but more especially for the benefit of those who dislike our notions of a rod, and prefer a long and heavy one,
we subjoin the opinions of two old writers on the subject, with which these dissenters will perhaps be more inclined to agree. Cotton, the friend and disciple of our patriarch Izaac, says: “For the length of your rod you are to be governed by the width of the river you chuse to angle at, and for a trout river one of five or six yards long is commonly enough; and longer it ought not to be, if you wish to fish at ease, and, if otherwise, where lies the sport?” Aye, “there's the rub;” and we may ask these objectors if they know any sport more easy, pleasant, and agreeable, than that of flogging the water for a whole day with a rod eighteen feet long, and not remarkable for its lightness? Verily the modern lords of the creation have lamentably degenerated from their hardy and stalwart ancestors — they have become a weak and puny race. Yea, according to the author we are about to quote, we moderns bear no comparison, in muscular development, with even those “weaker vessels” the ladies of the “olden time.” She of whom so honourable mention has been made in a foot-note at the commencement of this chapter — the ancient sporting Dame, we mean, – was herself accustomed to use (and she advised others to do the same) a rod full fourteen feet long. It was composed of three pieces, the joints of which were bound round with long hoops of iron. The butt was a “fayre staffe of a fadom and a halfe longe, and arme grete”— that is, the size of one's arm; “the whole making a weight,” remarks Fitzgibbon, “far too ponderous for the muscles of us modern males; and Miss Juliana herself must have been a lady of powerful ‘thews and sinews,' not very much macerated by prayer and fasting, prioress of a nunnery though she was.” The fewer pieces a rod consists of the better for use; though for convenience, particularly if the angler be in the habit of travelling, the remark is not so generally applicable. Under any circumstances, however, we do not advise more than four joints, and consider three to be preferable, on account of the rod composed of them handling lighter and better, and being less liable to derangement in its fewer ferrules. As to the mode of connecting the joints, we deem the common plan much better than that of screw ferrules, which are heavy and apt to get out of repair; but care should be taken to ascertain that the ferrules are nicely made, that they are fastened firmly, and fit true and deep. The use of screw ferrules is almost confined to Irish rods, which are generally beautifully made, but on very different prin
ciples from what we consider the best. They are too much of one size throughout, and therefore too pliable for any but the very weakest wrist and the most dandy summer-day fly-whipper.
We like no nick-knackery in our fishing gear — nothing ornamental only without commensurate utility. Out-of-the-way things are our abhorrence. Not that we are prejudiced against novelty, but because all novelties are not improvements, and because, therefore, the inexperienced angler may be allured by new and wellpuffed articles from things of sterling value, though of old-fashioned fabrication. What are called general rods,--that is, rods intended for all sorts of fishing, worm, fly, float, and minnow, — may be classed in this category, and should, therefore, be avoided as religiously as Morison's pills, for both are quackery alike. It is impossible to adapt one rod to all sorts of work, let the joints be appropriated as they may. Nor is it necessary that it should be so adapted. If you want a fly-rod, reader, be content to buy a fly-rod alone; if a worm-rod or a trolling-rod, let it be so, made for the one particular purpose, and nothing more; nor begrudge a few shillings in the purchase, if dealing with an honest man, who practically understands his business. All others, for the craft's sake, thou wilt, of course, religiously eschew.
There are several different kinds of wood used in the construction of fly-rods, those in greatest repute being ash, willow, and fir for the butt; lancewood, bamboo cane, elder, briar, and hazel for the top ; and hickory, lancewood, yew, &c., for the intermediate pieces. Of these, the best, perhaps, are willow, hickory, bamboo cane, and lancewood. The last, for the top joint, can be made of sufficient thinness at the point to dispense with whalebone, which is heavy and otherwise objectionable. We need not say that whatever kinds of wood are used, it is of paramount importance that it be well seasoned, and that the different sorts in the same rod be properly adapted to each other. The butt should be bored, for the purpose of receiving a spare top, and furnished with a spike screwed into its base. Modern rods, of any pretension to superiority, are never made without these obvious conveniences.
As to the colour of rods, it is not, perhaps, a matter worth disputing, although we must confess that we have a decided penchant for black. Some may think us fastidious in supposing that highly varnished yellow rods are likely to scare the fish — particularly in sunshine. One thing, however, and it is important, must be said in
favour of light varnish, namely, that it renders