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    Dryflyfastwaterf00labrrich Dryflyfastwaterf00labrrich Document Transcript

    • L * *B E R KGENERALLIBRARY UNIVERSITY Of CALIFORNIA
    • THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER
    • THE DRY FLYAND FAST WATER FISHING WITH THE FLOATING FLY ONAMERICAN TROUT STREAMS, TOGETHER WITH SOME OBSERVATIONS ON FLY FISHING IN GENERAL BY GEORGE M. L. LA BRANCHE NEW YORK CHARLES SCRIBNERS SONS 1914
    • COPYMGHT, 1914. BTCHARLES SCRIBNERS SONS Published May, 1914
    • PREFACE To expound a theory into willing ears upon atrout stream is one thing; to put those sameideas into writing so that they may be intel-ligently conveyed to one who reads them isquite a different thing. Of this I am convinced.However this may be, my readiness to do theone induced in some of my angling friends thebelief that I could do the other. They insistedthat I try and this book is the result. My ex-perience in preparing these pages has filled mewith the profoundest respect for those personswho may be truthfully characterised as authors.I began the work with a good deal of timidity,and, as it now appears to me, considerabletemerity. After completing the task to the bestof my ability I submitted the manuscript tosome of my credulous friends. Strange to say,after reading it, even then they insisted that Ipublish it. By this decision it seems to me theyproved two things their friendship for me andtheir absolute unfitness to be literary critics. V M838921
    • vi PREFACEEven under their instruction and guidance, so,the book is presented to the angling public withthe hope that it may find some small favouramong them. G. M. L. L. May, 1914.
    • CONTENTSCHAPTER PAGE I. EARLY EXPERIENCES 3 II. THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION .... 22 III. THE RISE 44 IV. WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH .... 87 V. THE IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 134 VI. SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS . . . . 176 VII. THE POINT OF VIEW . . . . . . 204VIII. A FEW PATTERNS OF FLIES . 212
    • THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER
    • THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER CHAPTER I EARLY EXPERIENCES FROM my earliest boyhood I have been de-voted to the fly fishers having been in- art,ducted into it by my father, who was an ardentangler before me. For more than twenty yearsI have fished the near-by streams of New Yorkand Pennsylvania; not a season has passedwithout having brought to me the pleasure ofcasting a fly over their waters. Each recurringyear I find myself, as the season approaches,eagerly looking forward to the bright days whenI can again go upon the streams. In the earlydays of the season, however, I am content tooverhaul my gear, to dream alone, or talk withothers about the active days to come; for Ihave never enjoyed going upon the waters solong as the air still holds chill winters bite. During the early years of my angling I fished
    • 4 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERmy flies wet or sunk. Such was the manneruniversally prevailingupon our streams andthe manner of my teaching. I had read aboutthe dry fly and knew that its use was generalin England, which country may justly be saidto be its place of origin. That this is true maynot be gainsaid, yet it seems to me remarkablethat with all the reputed ingenuity of Americansthe present development of dry fly fishing fortrout should be almost entirely the work ofBritish sportsmen. That the use of the dry flyon streams in this country has not been morecommon may be due to a pardonable disin-clination upon the part of expert wet fly anglersto admit the weakness of their method underconditions as they now exist. Their methodhas served them well, as it did their fathersbefore them, and perhaps they are loath to sur-render it for something new. In the earlierdays trout were much more abundant in ourstreams, and the men who fished the streamsand wrote upon the subject of fly fishing inthis country may have felt that a knowledge ofthe habits and haunts of the fish was more es-sential to success in takingthem than the em-ployment of any particular method. The meritsof up-stream over down-stream fishing caused
    • EARLY EXPERIENCES 5some discussion among anglers, and some ofthese / discussions found permanent place inangling literature. The discussion, however,seems always to have been confined to thequestion of position and seems never to havebeen extended to the manner of fishing the flies.Individual or experiences led characteristicssome to advocate a certain manner of manipu-lating the dropper-fly and others to recommendthe sinking of the tail-fly to a greater depth;but the flies seem always to have been manipu-lated upon the theory that to be effective theymust be constantly in motion. It seems tohave been conceded by all that the flies shouldbe always under the control and subject to thedirection of the rod, thus enabling the angler tosimulate living insects by twitching them over orunder the surface of the water a practice thatis the exact opposite of the method of the dryfly fisher, who casts a single fly lightly upon thesurface of the water and permits it to float withthe current over or near the spot where he knowsor believes a fish to lie. expert wet fly anglers in this country Manyhave been using the floating fly for years, butmost of them use it only on water where theyconsider it may prove more effective than the
    • 6 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERwet fly usually upon the quiet surface of apool or on flat, slow water. Contrary to theprevailing notion, however, the floating fly isnot a whit more deadly on water of this charac-ter than the wet fly, when the latter is properlyfished. The difficulty in taking trout on suchwater may be ascribed to two causes: (i) Whenthe water is low and clear, or where it has littlemotion and the surface is unruffled, the fish islikely to perceive the activities of the anglerat a greater distance than is possible in rougherwater, and isthus sooner warned of his approach.(2) When the angler has been careful to concealhimself from the fish, the fly cast in the usualwet fly manner is likely to be refused becauseof unnatural action, the wake made by itsdragging the flies across the smooth surfacebeing sufficient at times to deter even small fishfrom becoming interested in it. The floatingfly is far more effective than the wet, "jerky" fly,because, as no motion imparted to it, it is ismore lifelike in appearance. When such a fly,properly presented, is refused such refusal maybe due as much to a disinclination upon thepart of the fish to feed as to his suspicion havingbeen aroused. The wet fly fished sunk, with nomore motion given to it than is given to the
    • EARLY EXPERIENCES 7floating one (a single fly being used in each prove quite as deadly as the latter oncase), willsmooth water; and where many casts with thedry fly may be necessary to induce a rise, thesunk fly may appeal upon the first or secondattempt, because taking demands of the fish itsno particular exertion. The effort of the anglerto impart a "lifelike" motion to the wet flyupon the surface be quite enough in will oftenitself to defeat his purpose. Such effort shouldnever be made on clear, glassy water, for, whileit may occasionally be successful, unseen fishare put down. For years I was one of those who firmly manybelieved that only the smooth, slow stretches ofa stream could be fished successfully with thedry fly. Experience, however, has taught methat the floater, skilfully handled, is applicableto any part of a swift stream short of a per-pendicular waterfall. My unorthodox methodof using it which may be described as creatinga whole family of flies instead of imitating anindividual member thereof may be character-ised by some as "hammering" or "flogging,"and condemned as tending to make fish shybecause the leader is shown so often. My an-swer to this is that if the blows struck by the
    • 8 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERfly are light no harm is done. And, further-more, if showing gut to the fish really tendsto make them more wary, the sport of takingthem, in my estimation, is pushed up a peg. It is not my purpose to contend that the dryfly is more effective than the wet fly, althoughI do believe that, under certain conditions, thedry fly will take fish that may not be taken inany other manner. I do contend, however,that a greater fascination attends its use. Allgame birds are pursued with the same weapon,but the more difficult birds to kill have thegreater attraction for sportsmen; and my pre-dilection for the dry fly is based on the sameprinciple. My first dry fly was cast over the JunctionPool the meeting of the waters of the Wil-lowemoc and the Mongaup about fifteen yearsago, and the fact that I cast it at all was duemore to the exigency of the occasion than toany predevised plan for attempting the feat.Every day in the late afternoon or evening Inoted four or five fish rising in the pool formedby these two streams, and repeated attemptsupon my part to take one of them by the oldmethod absolutely failed me, although I putforth diligent efforts. The desire to take one
    • EARLY EXPERIENCES 9of these fish became an obsession, and theirconstant rising to everything but my flies ex-asperated me to the point of wishing that Imight bring myself to the use of dynamite. One evening in looking through my fly book Ifound one of the pockets a clipping from the inFishing Gazette, which I had placed there duringthe preceding winter. If my memory servesme, I think this article was entitled "Castingto Rising Fish." At any rate, the caption wassuch that it caught my eye, as it seemed tosuggest the remedy for which I was searching.The proved to be an account of the articleexperience of an angler who used the dry flyfor trout, and his exposition of the manner ofusing it seemed so clear that I determined totry it myself upon the pool over the rising fishin the late afternoon. Barring my inabilityto properly the things the author executedescribed and that I was called upon to do,the only stumbling-block in my way was theimpossibility of my obtaining an artificial flythat resembled the insects upon which the troutwere feeding, and the author laid a great dealof stress upon the necessity of using such animitation. I remember that, in a measure, Iwas mildly glad of this, because I felt that I
    • io THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERwould have an excuse for failure if I were un-successful. I "doctored" some wet flies intowhat I thought to be a the dry fair imitation offly by tying the wings forward so that theystood at right angles to the body, and thensallied forth to the pool. On my way to thestream went alternately hot and cold betwixt Ihope and fear. I rehearsed in my mind all thethings I had to do, and I think I was coldestwhen I thought of having to float the fly. Thewriter had recommended the use of paraffin-oilas an aid to buoyancy, and this commodity wasabout as easily procurable in Sullivan Countyat that time as the philosophers stone; in mythen frame of mind the latter would probablyhave proven quite as good a buoyant. The poolwas but a stones throw from the house, and Iarrived there in a few minutes, only to find aboy disturbing the water by dredging it with aworm. Him I lured away with a cake of choco-late, sat down to wait for the rise which cameon and by the time I was ready there shortly,were a half dozen good fish feeding on the sur-face. I observed two or three sorts of fliesabout and on the water, to none of which mypoor, mussed-up Queen-of-the-Waters bore theslightest resemblance. This did not deter me,
    • EARLY EXPERIENCES nhowever, and I waded boldly out to a posi-tion some forty feet below and to the right ofthe pool. My first cast amazed me. The flyalighted as gently as a natural insect upon thesurface,and, watching it as it floated downtoward the spot where a fish had been rising, Isaw it disappear, a little bubble being left inits place. Instinctively I struck, and to myastonishment found that I was fast in a solidfish that leaped clear of the water. The leapingof this fish was a new experience, as I had neverseen a trout jump as cleanly from the water.After a few flights and a determined rush ortwo I netted him a rainbow trout just over afoot long and the first I had ever taken. Thisvariety of trout had been placed in the streama few years before as an experiment, and fewhad been caught. Stowing my prize in my creel,I prepared for another attempt as soon as theexcitement in the pool had subsided. The flyI had used was bedraggled and slimy and wouldnot float, so I knotted on another. My secondattempt was as successful as the first, and Ifinally netted, after a tussle, a beautiful nativetrout that weighed a little over one pound.Four fine fish fell to my rod that evening, allwithin half an hour, and the fly was taken on
    • 12 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERthe first cast each time. If such had not beenthe case I doubt very much if I should have suc-ceeded, because I am certain that my confidencein the method would have been much weakenedhad I failed to take the first fish, and my subse-quent attempts might not have been made atall, or, if made, would probably have ended infailure. For several years after my first experiencewith the floating fly I used it in conjunctionwith the wet fly, and until I read Mr. Halfords" Dry Fly Fishing," when, recognising his greatauthority and feeling that the last word hadbeen said upon the subject, I used the dry flyonly on such water as I felt he would approveof and fished only rising fish. Some time lateron I read George A. B. Dewars "Book of theDry Fly/ Mr. Dewar says: "I shall endeavourto prove in the course of this volume that thedry fly is never an affectation, save when re-sorted to in the case of brawling, impetuousstreams of mountainous districts, where it ispractically impossible of application." Hereagain I felt inclined to listen to the voice ofauthority and felt that I must abandon thedry fly. I was accustomed to fish such streamsas the Beaverkill, Neversink, Willowemoc, and
    • EARLY EXPERIENCES 13Esopus, in New York; the Brodhead and Sho-hola, in Pennsylvania; the Saco and its tribu-taries, in New Hampshire, and others of similarcharacter all brawling, impetuous, tumblingstreams and it seemed to me that by continu-ing to use the dry fly on them I was profaningthe creed of authority and inviting the wrathof his gods upon my head. Since then, how-ever, I have continued the use of the dry flyon all of these streams, and a number of yearsago abandoned the use of the wet fly for alltime. Since I began casting the fly over the streamsof the region I have mentioned their characterhas greatly changed in many particulars, andconditions are not the same as they were twentyyears ago. The natural streams themselveshave changed; the condition of the water flow-ing in them has changed; the sorts of fish in-habiting the waters have changed; and themethods of taking the fish have changed, orshould change; and it is to show why this lastis true that the following pages are written. The changesthat have taken place in thecharacter of our mountain streams may be at-tributed to many causes, chief of which, how-ever, is the destruction of the timber which at
    • 14 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERone time covered the hills through which theyhave their course. During the frequent andlong-continued droughts the denuded hills, bakedhard as rock, shed the occasional summer showersas readily as the back of the proverbial duck;the streams become turbid torrents for a fewhours, after which they run down, seemingly toa lower mark than before. So long as the forestscovered the watersheds the rains as they fellwere soaked up by the loose and porous earthabout the roots of the trees, were cooled in theshade of the leaves and branches, and slowlypercolated into the tiny brooklets throughwhich they were fed to the streams for manydays. Under present conditions the tempera-ture of the streams is much higher than for-merly, and, while the temperature has seldomrisen to a point where it has been fatal to thefish, it has risen in manystreams to a pointthat is distasteful to the native brook-trout(Salvelinus fontinalis). It is not unreasonable to assume that theheat of the water has a very deleterious effectupon the vitality of the fish during certainyears when the droughts are long sustainedand, should the condition have existed for agreat length of time prior to the spawning sea-
    • EARLY EXPERIENCES 15son, that the progeny for the year would prob-ably come into being lacking the vitality neces-sary to overcome the attacks of natural ene-mies and disease. A bad spawning season, ofcourse, reduces the hatch for the year, but isordinarily not noticed by the angler until twoor three years later, at which time the unusu-ally small number of immature fish taken be-comes a matter of comment among the fre-quenters of the streams. A native angler whohas made it a practice to visit the spawning-grounds of trout for over twenty-five years statedto me that during the season of 1910 the reddswere occupied by trout, but that not a fishspawned on any of them in a stretch of nearlya mile of the stream which flows past his homeand which was under his constant observationduring the entire season. It is difficult for meto believe that such a thing could have beenpossible, yet I know the man to be a carefuland accurate observer, and his statement mustbe given credence. He seemed frightened atthe prospect and alarmed as to the future ofthe stream, and he besought me for an expla-nation of the condition which I was unable togive. Mydiary for that year had been de-stroyed, so that I was then, and am now, unable
    • 16 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERto even theorise as to whether or not the failureto spawn was due to weather conditions pre-vailing at that time. Let us hope, assumingthat my informant was not mistaken, that thecurious condition observed by him was confinedto the stretch of the stream that he investigated.Let us hope, further, that the fish, even in thatstream, will not become addicted to such anungenerous and unnatural habit. Great numbers of trout must be destroyed inthe periodical freshets that carry masses of icetearing and grinding over the beds of the moun-tain streams. When the ice breaks up graduallythere very little danger to the fish; but a issudden and continued thaw, accompanied by asteady fall of warm rain, washes the snow fromthe hillsides, swells the streams into wild tor-rents, and rips the very bottom out of them.Any one who has witnessed the forming of anice-jam and its final breaking must marvel atthe possibility of any fish or other living thingin its path escaping destruction, so tremendousis the upheaval. A few years ago a jam andfreshet on the Brodhead, besides uprootinggreat trees along the banks, lifted three ironbridges within as many miles from their stoneabutments and carried each of them a hundred
    • EARLY EXPERIENCES 17yards down-stream, leaving them, finally, meremasses of twisted iron. These bridges weretwelve or fifteen feet above the normal flow ofthe stream, yet, even so, they did not escape de-struction. How, then, is it possible for stream to stand against such catastrophe? Further-lifemore, this scouring of the beds of the streamsby and debris carried down during the floods iceundoubtedly destroys great quantities of thelarvae of the aquatic insects which form an im-portant part of the trouts food, and this, too,indirectly affects the supply of fish available tothe anglers rod. After a severe winter and atorrential spring there is a noticeable dearthof fly upon the water another of the manycauses of lament of the fly fisherman of to-day. Directly or indirectly, all of the conditionsabove described are the result of the ruthlesscutting of the timber from the hills. Happily,there is reason to hope that these conditions arenot going to grow worse, because the presentmovement toward the preservation of the for-estsseems to be gaining headway; conservationof natures resources will come to be a fixedpolicy of our National and State Governments,and if the policy is pushed with vigour and per-sistence our childrens children may some day
    • 1 8 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERsee our old familiar streams again singing gailythrough great woods like those our fathers knew. With the elements, man, beast, and bird allintent upon its destruction, it is a marvel thatour native brook-trout survives. But live onhe does, though his numbers constantly de-crease. The great gaps left in his ranks arebeing filled by the alien brown trout his equalin every respect but that of beauty. True,there is a wide difference of opinion in this par-ticular, and there are some who will go so faras to say that the brown trout is, all round, thebetter fish for the angler. When feeding hetakes the fly quite as freely as the native trout,leaps vigorously when hooked, grows rapidly toa large size, and seems better able to withstandabnormal changes in the temperature of thewater, which are so often fatal to fontinalis. Noone deplores the scarcity of our own beautifulfish more than I do; but we must not be blindto the facts that the brown trout a game-fish, isthat he is in our streams and there to stay, andthat our streams are suited to him. He is afish of moods and often seems less willing tofeed than the native trout; but for that reasonalone, if for no other, I would consider him thesportier fish. When both varieties are taking
    • EARLY EXPERIENCES 19freely and their fighting qualities compared, itisnot easy to decide which is the gamer. Theleaping of the brown trout is often more im-pressive than the determined resistance of thenative trout, and the taking of a particularlyactive or particularly sluggish fish of eithervariety is frequently made the basis for anopinion. It seems to me that, in any event, thetaking of even a single fair fish of either varietyon the fly is an achievement to be put down asa distinct credit to the anglers skill and some-thing to be proud of and to remember. Ournative brook-trout is much loved of man. Ithas come to be something more than a fish:it is an ideal. It will always hold first place inthe hearts of many anglers. I fear, however,that it must yield first place in the streams toitsEuropean contemporary, he having beenendowed by nature with a constitution fitted tocontend against existing conditions and sur-vive. My many years experience upon the streamsof New Yorkand Pennsylvania have broughtme to realise that changed conditions call foran expertness of skill and knowledge thatanglers of the past generation did very wellwithout. The streams now are smaller, the fish
    • 20 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERin them fewer and warier, and the difficulties ofthe angler who would take them greater. Threeflies fished down-stream may still be a permis-sible method for those who pursue the trout ofthe wilderness, but the sportsman should now bewilling to adopt the use of the single light sur-face fly when pursuing the trout of our domesticwaters; and, if he does adopt it, as he gains inskill he will come at last to realise that it has avirtue not possessed by its wet brother. I canillustrate my point best by quoting an experi-ence of my own that happened several yearsago. One day, while fishing an up-State stream,I met a dear old clergyman, who, after watch-ing me for a long time, came up and said:"Young man, I have fished this stream fornearly forty years, and they will tell you atthe house that I have been accounted as goodas any man who ever fished here with a fly. Ihave killed some fine fish, too; but in all thattime I have never been able to take trout asregularly asyou have taken them in the fewdays you have been here. I am told that youuse the dry fly and have some particular pat-terns. not asking too much, will you If it isbe good enough to give me their names and
    • EARLY EXPERIENCES 21tell me where they may be obtained?" I gavehim the information he asked, and volunteeredsome instruction by pointing out that his gearwas not suitable for the work, convincing himthat such was the case by placing my own rodin his hands. We sat in the shade for a coupleof hours exchanging ideas, and to prove orexplode a theory of mine he agreed to fish acertain pool with me later in the day. He usedmy rod and rose and killed a brown trout ofone pound five ounces, a little later leaving thefly in a heavier fish. He was an expert at plac-ing the fly, but, not being used to the stifferrod and lighter gut, he struck too hard, with theresultant smash. Being a good angler, he easilyovercame this difficulty. He now fishes onlywith a rod of fine action and power, which en-ables him to place his fly easily, delicately, andaccurately a greater distance than was possiblewith the "weeping" rod he formerly used.This he abandoned once and for all, and with itthe wet fly. He came into the knowledge andenjoyment of the dry fly method, and he hassince then frankly admitted to me that hegreatly regretted having realised so late in lifethat the actual taking of trout constitutes buta very small part of the joy of fly fishing.
    • CHAPTER II THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION SEVERAL years ago I was looking on at atennis match between the champion of Americaand one of the best men England ever sent tothis country, and as I watched their play Icould not help but marvel at the accuracy withwhich the players placed their shots. Theirdrives were wonderful for direction and speed.On nearly every return the ball barely clearedthe net and was seldom more than a few inchesabove the top as it passed over. A friend whoknew many of the experts told me how theyattained to their remarkable precision. It wasthe custom of many of them, he said, when pre-paring for the big matches, to practise for ac-curacy by driving the ball against a wall. Hesaid thiswas particularly true of the Americanchampion, and that it was not unusual for himto use up a dozen or more balls in a days prac-tice. The wall had painted across its face aline of contrasting colour at a height from theground equivalent to that of the top of a regu- 22
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 23 and upon the line were paintedlation tennis net,a number of disks about ten inches in diameter.Standing at a distance from the wall equivalentto the distance of the base-line of a regulationtennis-court from the net, the player wouldreturn the ball on rebound from the wall, itsstriving each time to so place it that it wouldstrike just above the line. The accomplish-ment of a satisfactory score after a successionof drives would convince the player that he hadgood control of his stroke, and he would thenturn his attention to the disks, against each ofwhich he would drive twenty or more shots,taking them in turn and keeping a record ofhits in each case. The accuracy developed bysuch practice was truly remarkable, and I hes-itate to mention the number of times in succes-sion one expert made clean hits it seemed anincredible number. I have seen golfers practising the weak placesin their game for hours with as much zeal andearnestness as if they were playing a match,and a polo player of my acquaintance practiseshis strokes upon a field at his home, ridinghis ponies as daringly and recklessly as thougha championshipdepended upon his efforts.The devotees of these and similar active sports
    • 24 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERare keenly alive to the necessity of constantpractice, that spirit of competition which is somuch a part of them making any endeavourthat will aid toward high efficiency, or improvegame or form, seem worth while. And in allsports, particularly those in which the com-petition is individual, whenever and whereveropportunity presents itself there will be foundhundreds of enthusiasts following every playof the expert, keenly studying his method, ob-serving his form, and absorbing and storingthe knowledge so gained for their own practicelater on court or field. So, too, even thoughcompetition has no place in fly fishing, andshould have none, the angler ought to strivealways to "play a good game." He shouldpractise the tactics of his art with the same zealas do the followers of competitive sports if hehopes ever to become an expert fly fishermanin the highest sense of that much misused term. casual angler who looks upon fishing as Themerely incidental to his periods of recreation,during which his chief concern is the recupera-tion of tired brain and unstrung nerves, mayfeel that he is making a business of his pleasureby devoting much time to the study of his an-gling. In a measure, this is true, and it would
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 25be asking much, indeed, of him who thinks offly fishing only as a pastime. But to him whorealises that it is a sport a sport that is alsoan art there is no incident, complex or simple,that is unworthy of his attention and consider-ation. No sport affords a greater field for ob-servation and study than fly fishing, and it isthe close attention paid to the minor happeningsupon the stream that marks the finished angler.The angler frequently overlooks in- carelesscidents, or looks upon them as merely trivial,from which he might learn much if he would butrealise their meaning at the time. Of greatest importance to the dry fly angleristhat mastery of the rod and line that enableshim to place his fly lightly and accurately uponthe water. I venture to assert that one whohas had the advantage of expert instruction inhandling a rod, and is thereby qualified to de-liver a fly properly, will raise more trout upon his attempt at fishing a stream than anotherfirstwho, though he knows thoroughly the hauntsand habits of the fish, casts indifferently. Thecontrast between the instructed novice and theuninstructed veteran would be particularly no-ticeable were they to cast together over thesame water in which fish were rising freely.
    • 26 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERWhether or not the novice would take morefish than the veteran is another question. Lack-ing experience, the novice would probably hookfew fish and land fewer. But he would bestarting right, and the necessity of overcominglater on that bad form likely to be acquired byall who begin without competent instructionwould be eliminated, and the stream knowledge come to him in time.of the veteran would The beginner should watch the expert atwork and should study particularly the actionof the rod. He should note that the powerwhich impels the line forward starts from thebutt, travels the entire length of the rod, isapplied by a forward push rather than by slighta long sweep, and ends in a distinct snap. Hewill soon learn that the wrist must do the realwork, and no better scheme for teaching thishas ever been devised than the time-honouredone of holding a fly book or a stone betweenthe casting arm and the body. The properaction of the rod will be best learned if he fastenthat part of the butt below the reel to the fore-arm with a piece of string, a strap of leather, ora stout rubber band, the effect of which devicewill be to stop the rod in an almost perpen-dicular position when the line is retrieved. The
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 27pull of the line as it straightens out behind himwill be distinctly felt, will give him a good ideaof the power and action of his rod, and serveas a signal for the forward cast. He shouldpractise casting as often as his spare timewill allow over water when possible, but overgrass if necessary. He should not wait untilthe stream is reached and actual fishing prob-lems begin to press upon his notice for solu-tion. His mind will then be occupied withmany other things; hence, the knack of han-dling the rod should have been already acquired. After the beginner is satisfied that he canproperly place and deliver his fly he shouldturn his attention to the study of the fish andthe currents of the stream. If he has been awet fly angler his experiences will stand him ingood stead, as it will qualify him to locate thelikely haunts of the fish. Long and variedthough his experience may have been, however,the use of the dry fly will open avenues of ob-servation and knowledge that were hidden fromhim while he practised the old method. Myown experience is responsible for this ratherbroad statement, but not until after I had be-come an ardent advocate of the dry fly, and hadabandoned the wet fly for good and all, did I
    • 28 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERrealise the truth of it. In the beginning I wasever on the alert for rising fish, and, instead ofboldly assailing promising water, wasted muchtime, on many occasions, scrutinising the waterfor some indication that a fish was feeding. Inthis way I frequently discovered non-feedingfish lying in places where I had not expected tofind them. were then the more easily Such fishapproached because I was able to assume aposition myself that would not disclose mypresence. Just as frequently, too, I have seenfine fish cruising about, and have taken manythat might have been driven away by the slight-est movement on my part. In many casesI have been compelled to remain absolutelymotionless for ten or fifteen minutes before afish would come to rest long enough to makeworth while an attempt to get a fly to Nearly it.every time, too, that a fish has been hooked Ihave seen it actually take the fly an actionalways instructive, because fish vary greatly intheir manner of taking, and interesting, be-cause in it lies one of the real charms of flyfishing. The continued use of a floating fly uponwater where the angler sees no indication offeeding fish, but where experience tells him that
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 29they mayseems to develop in him a remark- lie,able keenness of vision. This is a direct re-sult, perhaps, of the attention which he givesto his fly. own experience is that while I Myam watching my fly float down-stream somestone of irregular formation, peculiar colour,or difference in size from others about it, lyingupon the bottom, arrests my eye, with the effectof making the water appear shallower or clearerthan it really is. My appears to be the flycentre of a small area upon the surface of thewater through which everything is seen asclearly as through a water-glass, the shadow ofthe fly itself upon the bottom often being plainlydiscernible. Anglers who the dry fly learn fishto identify the living shadow that appears sud-denly under the fly as a trout ready to take iton next drift down-stream, and to recognise itsa fish as it sidles out from the bank or swingsuncertainly toward the fly just as it passes theboulder that shelters him. In either case aninteresting opportunity is afforded, particularlyfor exercising a very necessary attribute self-control. It may be that many happenings Inow seeupon the stream passed unnoticed when I usedthe wet fly because of some lack of concen-
    • 30 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERtration and observation. If this be so, I havethe newer method to thank for the developmentof these faculties. I have learned not to over-look a single minor happening. Perhaps mykeenness to ascribe some meaning to the slight-est incident has resulted in the building of manyvery fine structures of theory and dogma uponpoor foundations. be true, but I am This maycertain that their weaknesses have always be-come apparent to me in time; and, on the otherhand, I am just as certain that I have beengreatly benefited by my habit of close attentionto the little things that happen on the stream.For instance, I cherished the belief for manyyears that one advantage of up-stream fishinglay in the fact that when the fly was taken thehook was driven into the fishs mouth insteadof being pulled away, as in down-stream fishing.I thought this to be one of the strongest argu-ments in favour of up-stream fishing, and, theo-retically, it is. But I know now that manyfishthat take a floating fly do so when theyare headed down-stream. While there are stillmany reasons why up-stream fishing is the bettermethod, this particular argument no longer hasweight with me. As I remember it, the strongest admonition
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 31of my early schooling on the stream was neverto remain long in one place. I was taught tobelieve that if a rise was not effected on the few casts subsequent effort on that waterfirstwas wasted that the trout would take the flyat once or not at clung to this belief for all. Iyears, until one day I saw a fine fish lying inshallow water and took him after casting adozen or more times. Since then I have takenfish after upward of fifty casts, and I rarelyabandon an attempt for one that I can see ifI feel certain that it has not discovered me.Even when I have not actually seen a fish, buthave known or believed one to be lying near by,the practice has proven effective. Thus I havehad the satisfaction of accomplishing a thingonce believed to be impossible; but I havegained more than that: I have learned to bepersevering and, what is still more important,deliberate. The man who hurries through atrout stream defeats himself. Not only does hetake few but he has no time for observation, fishand his experience is likely to be of little valueto him. The beginner must learn to look with eyesthat Occurrences of apparently little im- see.portance at the moment may, after considera-
    • 32 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERtion, assume proportions of great value. Thetaking of an insect, for instance, may meannothing more than a rising trout; but the posi-tion occupied by this fish may indicate theposition taken by others in similar water. Theflash of a trout, changing his position prepara-tory to investigating the anglers fly, will fre-quently disclose the spot occupied by him beforehe changed his position; and, later on, when thefish are not in the keenest mood for feeding, aflypresented there accurately may bring a rise.The quick dart up-stream of a small trout fromthe tail a pretty fair indication that of a pool isa large fish occupies the deeper water above;it indicates just as certainly, however, that theangler has little chance of taking him, the ex-citement of the smaller fish having probablybeen communicated to his big relative. The backwater formed by a swift current onthe up-stream side of a boulder is a favouritelurking-place of brown trout. I was fishingsuch places one day, and found the trout oc-cupying them and in rather a taking mood.In approaching a boulder which looked particu-larly inviting, and while preparing to deliver myfly, I was amazed to see the tail and half thebody of a fine trout out of the water at the side
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 33of the rock. For a moment I could not believethat I had seen a fish the movement was sodeliberate and I came to the conclusion that itwas fancy or that a water-snake, gliding acrossthe stream, had shown itself. Almost immedi-ately, however, I saw the flash of a trout as heleftthe backwater and dashed pell-mell intothe swift water at the side of the boulder.Down-stream he came until he was eight or tenfeet below the rock, when, turning sharply andrising to the surface, he took from it some in-sect that I could not see. Up-stream again hewent, and shortly resumed his position in thedead water, showing half his body as he stemmedthe current at the side of the rock. Once morethisperformance was repeated, and I knew Ihad stumbled upon an interesting experience.Hastily measuring the distance, hoping to getmy fly to him before some natural insect mightexcite him to give another exhibition of gym-nastic feeding, I dropped it about three feetabove him, and, contrary to my usual methodof retrieving it as it floated past the up-streamside of the boulder, I permitted it to come downriding the top of the wave, when the same flashcame as the trout dashed after it. The fishcould be plainly seen almost directly under the
    • 34 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERfly. Asreached the rapidly flattening water itbelow the rock, he turned and took it viciously,immediately darting up-stream again. He wassoundly hooked, however, and I netted a finefish lacking one ounce of being a pound and ahalf. My experience heretofore had been thatifa fly were placed a yard or so above this pointand allowed to float down to the rock a feedingfish would rush forward often as much as twofeet and take immediately turning or back- it,ing into his position again. I had assumed fromthis observation that when the fly passed therock or backwater without a rise it should beretrieved and another try made. This fish sat- me, however, that when really feeding, orisfiedwhen inclined to feed, trout may be lured com-paratively long distances by inviting lookingmorsels. Either he did not decide to take thefly until just as it was passing him or else heliked the exercise of the chase. In any event,he was not peculiar in his habit, because fourmore fish were taken in the same manner thesame day. In most cases when the fly is cast above aboulder lying in swift water (which I consider,under certain conditions, one of the best placesto look for brown trout) it will be taken as it
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 35approaches the rock, the trout darting out andretiring immediately to avoid being caught inthe swifter water on either side of his strong-hold. But if it is not taken, and is permittedto float down with the current, it may bring aresponse. It was a somewhat similar observation whichprompted the practice and, I must say, ratherdubious development of what some of my friendsare pleased to call the "fluttering" or "bounce"cast. This cast is supposed to represent theaction of a fluttering insect, the fly merelyalighting upon the water, rising, alighting again,repeating the movement three or four times atmost; finally coming to rest and being allowedto float down-stream. It rarely comes off, butwhen it does it is deadly; and, for the good ofthe sport, I am glad that it is difficult, thoughsorry, too, for the pleasure of accomplishing itsuccessfully is really greater than that of takingfish with it. The cast is made with a veryshort line never over twenty-five feet andthe fly alone touches the water. The action ofthe fly very similar to that produced by isthe method known as "dapping," but instead ofbeing merely dangled from the rod, as is thecase when "dapping," the fly is actually cast.
    • 36 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERIt should be permitted to float as far as it willafter its fluttering or skipping has ceased. Thebeginner practising the cast will do well tocast at right angles to the current, and he shouldchoose rather fast water for his experimenting.The speed of the water will cause the fly tojump, and the action it should have will be themore readily simulated than if the first attemptsare made on slow water. I had made a flying trip to the Brodhead,and, with that strange fatality which seems sooften to attend the unfortunate angler rushingoff for a week-end in the early season, found thestream abnormally high and horrible weatherprevailing. After many attempts to get intothe stream, with results equally disastrous tomy clothing and temper, I abandoned all ideaof wading and walked and crawled along thebank, casting my fly wherever I could butrarely finding good water that could be reached,and rising but a few small fish. As there wasa gale blowing in my face directly down-stream,it was practically impossible to place a fly whereI wished with any delicacy, and I decided toabandon the sport after trying a pool just aboveme that I knew contained big fish. My firstcast on this water, made during a lull, fell
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 37lightly, but brought no response, and after afurther half dozen fruitless attempts I began tothink of the fine log fire at the house. I madeone more however, cast, this time in the teethof the wind. Using but twenty-five feet of lineand a short leader, I was able to straighten bothin the air. The wind kept suspended for an allinstant, the fly, accompanied by a small part ofthe leader, finally falling upon the water, whereit remained but a fraction of a second, thewind whisking it off and laying it down a footaway. This happened five or six times as thefly came down-stream, and during the time itwas travelling a distance of not over eight orten feet five trout, each apparently over a poundin weight, rose to it, but missed because it wasplucked away by the wind just in time to savethem. I did not get one of them, and, as it waspractically impossible to continue casting underthe prevailing conditions, I left the stream. Itwas brought home solidly to me that day, how-ever, that it was the action of the fly alone thatmoved the fish and my day was not badlyspent. cannot say as much of the many other Idays since then that I have spent in what I feelwere rather foolish attempts to imitate the effectproduced by the wind on that day.
    • 38 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER The study of the positions taken by big fishwhen they are feeding, and those which theyoccupy when they are not, is an important partof the education of the fly fisher. Each timethe angler takes a good fish or sees one feeding,if he will note in his diary its position, the con-dition of the water, temperature, atmosphere,time of day, and the insect being taken, hewill soon have an accumulation of data fromwhich he may learn how to plan a campaignagainst particular fish at other times. Ex-tremely interesting in itself, the study of insectsis of great value to the angler in his attemptsat imitation, and the information gleaned fromautopsy might not be acquired in any othermanner. It may be said to be an axiom of the fly fisherthat where a small trout seen feeding rarely isneed a large one be looked for. But the actionsof a small fish in sight may sometimes indicatethe presence of a larger one unseen. The tak-ing of a fine trout on a certain stream in Sulli-van County, on August 27, 1906, after one ofthose long periods of drought so common inrecent years, convinced me of this. I had beenwaiting for even a slight fall of rain, and, quitea heavy shower having come up the evening
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 39before, I started for this stream. Upon myarrival there I was surprised to learn that not adrop of rain had fallen in weeks, and that theshower which had been heavy twenty milesaway had not reached the vicinity. Whiledriving from the station to the house at whichI was to stop, along a road that paralleled thestream, the many glimpses I had of the latterfilled me with misgivings. At one point thestream and road are very near each other, and,stopping my got out to look at a driver, Ifamous pool below a dam which had long out-lived its usefulness. It was a sizzling-hot day,and at that time eleven oclock the sun wasalmost directly overhead; yet in the crystal-clear water of this pool, with not a particle ofshade to cover him, lay a native trout fourteeninches in length which afterward proved toweigh one pound three ounces. Too fine a fish,I thought, as I clambered back into the carriage,to be occupying such a place in broad daylight,and I promised myself to try for him later inthe afternoon. Returning about six oclock, Ifound him in the same position, and during thefull twenty minutes I watched him, while heappeared to be nervously alert, he never moved.Notwithstanding the fact that everything was
    • 40 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERagainst me, and knowing that the chances weremore than even that the fish would see me, myrod, or my line, I made my plans for approach-ing him; yet, busy as I was, I could not rid mymind of this ever-recurring thought: with allthe known aversion of his kind to heat, and theirlove of dark nooks, why was this fish out inthis place on such a day? Why did he not finda place under the cool shade of the dam ? Withthe instinct strong within him to protect him-self by must have been hiding, thd impulsemuch stronger that forced him to take so con-spicuous a stand a mark to the animals whichprey upon his kind. As there were absolutelyno insects upon the water, and scarcely enoughcurrent to bring food of other sort to him, hecould not have been feeding. The only reason,then, to account for his being there the thoughtstruck me forcibly enough was his fear of abigger fish. The logical conclusion was that ifa fish of his inches (no mean adversary) exposedhimself so recklessly the one that bullied himmust be quite solid. I tested this fellows ap-petite with a small, pinkish-bodied fly of myown invention, and, standing about forty feetbelow and considerably to the left, dropped itthree or four feet above him; but, although it
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 41was certain he could see the fly, he made noattempt to go forward and take it. As itneared him, however, he rushed excitedly to theright and then to the left, taking the fly as itcame directly over him, and, before I couldrealisewhat had happened, came down-streamtoward me at a great rate. As he was securelyhooked, I kept him coming, and netted himquietly at the lip of the pool. That this fish did not take the fly the instantit fell meant to me that he was afraid to go for-ward into the deeper water which harboured hislarger fellow; and his action as the fly appearedover him meant that, while he wanted it badlyenough, he would not risk an altercation withthe other, which might also have seen it. Whenhe did finally decide that the coast was clear,he took quickly and rushed down toward itthe shallower water where he might be secureagainst sudden attack. If some of the theories developed in thosefew moments appear fanciful, it must be re-membered that my mind was occupied with thethought that the pool contained a larger fish,and the conclusions based upon the subse-quent actions of this smaller one only tended tostrengthen this belief. Fanciful or not, I was
    • 42 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERrewarded a few minutes later by the sight of amonster tail breaking the surface just underthe water that trickled over the apron of thedam. Having prepared a gossamer leader, pre-ferring to risk a smash to not getting a rise,I dropped a small Silver Sedge which I usedbecause it could be more plainly kept in sightalmost immediately in the swirl and was atonce fast in a lusty fish. After many abortiveattempts to lead him into the diminutive net Ihad with me, I flung the thing, in disgust, intothe woods. I finally beached the fish and liftedhim out in my hand. He was a fine brown and three quarter inches in length,trout, eighteenand weighed, the next morning, two poundsnine ounces. While was engaged with this fish another Irose in practically the same spot under theapron of the dam. Hurriedly replacing the be-draggled fly with a new one, I waited for thetrout to show himself, which he did presently,and again I was fast this time in one of thebest fish I have ever seen in these waters. Itseemed an interminable length of time, thoughprobably not over ten minutes, that I was en-gaged with this one, and it was impossible tomove him; he kept alternately boring in toward
    • THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION 43the dam and sulking. In one of the latter fitsI urged him toward me somewhat too strongly,and he was off. Immediately I was afforded asight of what I had he leaped clear of lost asthe water in an evident endeavour to dislodgethe thing that had fastened to his jaw. Thesmash made as he struck the water still resoundsin my ear, and whensay that this fish would Ihave gone close to five pounds I but exercisethe right to that license accorded all anglers whoattempt to describe the size of the big ones thatget away. Having one good fish in my creel,however, I really had some basis for my cal-culation at any rate, he was one of the bestfish I have ever Examining my leader, risen.I found ithad not broken, but the telltale curlat the end proved that, in the fast-gatheringgloom, I had been careless in knotting on thefly.
    • CHAPTER III THE RISE ANY disturbance of the surface made by atrout is usually referred to as a "rise," but thecharacterisation erroneous except where it isis applied to fish feeding upon the surface.Rising fish are the delight of the dry fly fisher,but are really the easiest fish to take pro-vided, always, that no error is made in the pres-entation of the fly. The angler is called uponto exhibit a fine skill in casting, a knowledge ofthe insect upon which the fish is feeding, andto make the proper selection of an imitation;but he aided materially by being apprised isof the location of the fish, and is further helpedby the knowledge that he is throwing to awilling one. The study of the habits of rising fish, or, touse a more inclusive term, feeding fish be-cause a feeding fish may not be a rising oneis of the utmost importance to the dry fly en-thusiast, who knows how difficult it is to inducea fish feeding on or near the bottom to rise tohis floater. 44
    • THE RISE 45 Inasmuch as the principal literature avail-able on this delightful branch of angling is thework of Englishmen who have, with unfailingunanimity, used the same terms in describingthe and actions of feeding fish, it positionswould be unwise to attempt to employ others,and for that reason I have made use of themthroughout this chapter. Compared with our swift-flowing waters, thegentle, slow-moving, chalk streams of SouthernEngland offer greater advantages to studentsof the habits of feeding fish, not only because ofthe greater deliberation with which the trout se-cures his food in them but also because a greaternumber of aquatic insects contribute to hissustenance there than are found on our swiftstreams; consequently, the English student hasfar greater opportunity for observation. Thewater-weeds grow so heavily on these Englishstreams that at times it is found necessary tocut them out to some extent if fly fishing is tobe pursued. These weeds harbour great num-bers of snails, shrimps, larvae, etc., of which thetrout are inordinately fond, and when the fishare seeking this luscious fare the trials of theangler fishing with a floating fly are, indeed,many. Trout feeding in this manner are de-
    • 46 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERscribed as "tailing" fish, from the fact that thetail of the fishobserved breaking the surface isof the water violently or gently, as the case maydemand, in his efforts to secure or dislodge hisprey. Heavy weed growth being unusual onour swift streams, the trout do not have thesame opportunity to feed in the manner de-scribed as their English cousins, and, conse-quently, the American fly fisherman is not par-ticularly interested in tailing fish; but it mustnot be forgotten that caddis larvae abound inour waters, and that trout occasionally pick upcrawfish, snails, and other Crustacea and Mol-lusca from the bottom, usually in the less rapidparts of the stream. Fish so feeding do breakthe surface with their and, even though tails,the tail be not actually seen, the action of thisfin in maintaining the fishs equilibrium causesa swirl which is often mistaken for a rise. Atrout often shows his tail in rapid water butthis is occasioned by the necessity of forcinghis head down to overcome the force of thecurrent after he has taken food of some sortupon the surface or just below it, and the actionmust not be confused with that of a fish feedingupon the bottom in the more quiet stretches. The term "bulging" is applied to fish that
    • THE RISE 47are feeding below the surface upon the nymphaeof insects about toundergo the metamorphosiswhich produces the winged fly. The trout is avery busy fellow at this time, and covers left,centre, and right field with equal facility; buthe occasionally misses, and at the instant ofhis viciously breaking the surface of the waterthe insect be seen taking its laboured flight may escaping by a hairs breadth the death whichpursued it. When trout are feeding in thismanner the anglers patience is taxed to theutmost, and after a succession of flies has beentried without success the discomfited anglermay be excused if he concludes that his arti-ficial is not a good imitation. He may not befar wrong. Although aside from the main subject of dryfly fishing, I will in this connection attempt toshow how the sunk fly may be used successfullyagainst the "bulger." As the nymph is stillenclosed in its shuck, or case, it is quite obviousthat an artificial fly made with wings is notan imitation of Consequently, a hackle-fly it.should be used even though it, too, is a poorimitation. A suggestion of the general hue ofthe natural is quite sufficient. The cast ismade some distance above the feeding fish, so
    • 48 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERthat the fly will approach the trout approxi-mately as the nymph would, i. e. y under waterand rising. If no attempt be made to impartmotion the fly drifting with the current will bemore natural in its action than the angler canhope to make it appear by manipulation. Be-sides, the trout is an excellent judge of pace, and,making for a natural looking morsel, is sorelydisappointed and not likely to come again if itis jerked away from him at the moment he isabout to take it. One fly only should be used,and quite as much care is required in its de-livery as would be necessary were a floating flybeing presented. Errors made in casting aremore readily concealed by the current in thecase of the sunk fly. When the attention of the fish is fixed uponinsects beneath the surface it is difficult to at-tract his notice to a floating fly, except, perhaps,at such times as the fly appears before himwhen he is close to the surface; but it can bedone and in two ways. Fish so feeding aremoving about, darting here and there takingnymphae. A swirl made by the fish in all likeli-hood only marks the place where he was, andhe may be a yard or more up-stream, or to rightor left, where he went to secure the nymph. If
    • THE RISE 49the swirl is made by his tail at the time hestarts for the insect and not at the momenthe takes it, there knowledge as to his is littleactual position to be gained from the distur-bance; the only indication is that he is feeding.The angler must be able to distinguish betweenthe disturbance made by a bulger feeding underwater and that made by a fish taking a wingedinsect upon the surface often not a very diffi-cult thing to do and he must conduct his cam-paign accordingly. The signs of the surface-feeding fish are easily discernible to the quickeye. The gentle slow water, or the rise inswifter rush where the fly is in the current,starts a ripple immediately from the centremade by the nose or mouth of the fish, and, ofcourse, unmistakable where the actual taking isof the insect is seen. In all cases the surface isbroken. The commotion made by the bulgingfish is started under water, and, while the dis-turbance is ultimately seen upon the surface,the form it assumes is more of a swirl or boiland is quite unlike the concentric rings thatmark the actual breaking of the surface. Occasionally, as I have said, the "fielder muffsthe fly," and this is the moment that, if theangler be alert, an artificial fly dropped im-
    • 50 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERmediately over the fish is likely to meet with ahearty welcome. I am convinced that a troutthat misses his prey in this manner frequentlystays on the spot where he lost it long enoughto give the angler an opportunity to presenthis fly, if he is within striking distance andready. He must be prompt in making histhrow, however, because the fish may have hisattention attracted elsewhere at any moment.If a rise be not effected at once the anglershould not try again immediately, because thepossibility of the fish having left his position,or of having been scared by the line, or offrightening another which may have come be-tween, is too great to make the attempt worthwhile. When over the pool, and fish are feeding allthe angler is impatient and not content to standidly by waiting for an opportunity such as de-scribed, let him try the following method: Heshould look the water over carefully, keep outof it if possible, and choose the spot where thefly is to be placed. Knowledge of the waterand of the habits of the fish will guide him inthis choice, but he should not cast to the swirl.Having chosen his water, which should be to-ward the head of the pool, not much above its
    • THE RISE 51centre, and preferably where the current willcarry the fly down faster than the leader (thechoice being governed naturally by the char-acter of the stretch), he should place his fly somedistance a yard or two ahead of the swirland a foot or two to the side nearest him, al-lowing it to float down eight or ten feet; if norise is effected he should place his fly in thesame spot again and again until he has madetwenty-five casts or more. It is important thateach cast should be executed with the same pre-cisionand delicacy as marked the first attempt. The method is based upon the theory that afeeding trout or even one that is not feeding,for that matter may be induced to take up aposition in line with the direction in which theanglers fly is travelling, under the belief thatflies coming down-stream in such quantities areas to make them worth investigating. Oncethis position is only a question compelled it isof time and patience upon the part of the angler.The trout will rise eventually to one of this"hatch." The angler cannot hope to have thiscoup come off, however, if he has made anymistake in his casting or has shown himself orhis rod. The beginner practising the method will
    • 52 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERfind it most difficult to restrain an almost un-controllable impulse to leave off casting inthe one spot in order to place his fly over theswirl made by some other fish. If he givesway to that impulse he courts failure anddown comes the house he is building. It isquite likely that a trout preparing to investi- isgate the "hatch" at the very moment the anglerchanges his water, and, of course, will be fright-ened away by seeing the rod or the line whichis thrown over it to the other fish. The methodusually employed by the novice is productive ofnothing. Because many feeding fish are seen,he hurriedly casts over this one, then over thatone, in the hope that his fly will be taken, andfinally gives up in despair when his hope is notrealised. If a mistake unfortunately occurs the dan-ger of which naturally increases in proportionto the number of casts made it is quite uselessto carry the attempt further. The angler shouldretire for a few moments or continue a bit far-ther up or down stream, selecting a spot somedistance from where he began, and alwaysbearing in mind the necessity for throwingabove and to the near side of the swirl. If nomistake is made the chances are at least even
    • THE RISE 53that those early evening "rises" which have solong mocked his skill may show a profit. Theangler, however, spend a profitable quarter mayhour watching the insects upon the water orrising from it, and catching some for closerexamination. During this time, if there is acessation of swirls, as there likely will be, itindicates that the nymphae are becomingfewer and that, the "hatch" being over for thepresent, his last chance has come for a tryat the bulgers. He should proceed, as be-fore, to create his "hatch," and he artificialwill have even a better chance of success becausethe attention of the trout will be less occupied. In selecting water in which to place the fly, inorder to take bulging fish by the method I havesuggested, the angler will do well to choose thatwhere the current is swift but the surface un-broken; and too much stress cannot be laid uponthe importance of having the fly float down asnearly as possible in the same lane and positioneach time. When the trout have ceased feed-ing upon the nymphae his opportunity for cast-ing to fish that are really rising is come, and hemay try these until darkness drives him home. One who has observed trout feeding upon thetiny Diptera called indiscriminately by anglers
    • 54 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER"black gnats," "punkies," "midges/ etc., is " "quite inclined to believe that, whilesmuttingis rather an inelegant term to to the fish, applythe insects themselves, considering the provo-cation, have been too lightly in being let offdescribed as "smuts" and "curses." These di-minutive pests seem to be abroad at all timesof the day, but are particularly numerous inthe late afternoon, when clouds of them may beseen hovering over the still water of the pools.At such times the trout seem to be busily feed-ing, but the keenest observation does not dis-close what they are taking. These "curses" it isare so small that it seems incredible that largetrout should be interested in them. That theyare is easily proven by autopsy, and I havefound solid masses of them in the gullets andstomachs of sizable fish, proving that they musthave been extremely busy if the insects weretaken singly. If one could see these tiny thingsupon the water, and could see a trout rise tothem, he would have convincing evidence thatthey are taken singly; but, though my eyesightis still good, I have never been able to satisfymyself that I have actually seen a fish take oneof them. After many experiences with troutunder such conditions, and particularly after a
    • THE RISE 55series of observations extending on one occasionover a period of four successive days, I am al-most ready to believe that the fish do not waitfor them to upon the water. This notion fallperhaps fanciful came to me while on a poolthat had been my objective during an after-noons fishing, and upon which I intended toclose the day. Arriving there about a half hourbefore sundown, I was not a little delighted tofind fish rising freely all over. After studyingthem for a few moments I concluded that theywere not "bulging," because the surface wasbroken each time with a distinct "smack/They could not have been "tailing," becausethe water was about four feet deep. Theywere not rising to any insects that I could see,although looked long and steadily. Yet they Irose freely, and each fish rose again and again inpractically the same spot. Using the smallest fly that I had with me,a flat-winged "black gnat" tied on a No. 16hook, I cast faithfully but unavailingly for sometime, endeavouring to interest two fish whichwere nearest me, and until I was quite ready toconfess myself beaten. However, I decided totry them with a larger fly, and while preparingto tie this on my attention was attracted by four
    • 56 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERdistinct clouds of insect hovering over the water on the wing, certainly, but making no flight.They were merely dancing in the air about twofeet above the pool. Watching closely, I saw theinsects gradually decrease this distance until butan inch or two separated the lower extremity ofa cloud of them from the water, when directlyunderneath would come another "smack" asthe tail of a trout broke the surface. Immedi-ately the swarm would scatter, though but foran instant, collecting again to perform the sameevolution as before, when again they would bescattered by a fish under them. This happenedto all four swarms in rapid succession, and itwas quite evident that a trout was under each.Every time the insects were close to the waterthe tail of a trout would be seen and waterwould be thrown amongst them. Query: Didthe trout deliberately throw water at theseinsects with the intention of drenching thosewithin reach and in order that they might bepicked up at leisure after they had fallen intothe stream ? And, if so, why were the fish notobserved in the act of picking them up? Ordid the sight of the insects excite the anger ofthe fish, or a sport-loving instinct if, indeed,fish are capable of these emotions?
    • THE RISE 57 My subsequent experience with these fishtended only to confuse me further in my guess- " "ing. This spattering game went on for fifteenor twenty minutes, and was brought to a con-clusion, finally, by the retirement of the "curses,"which left the scene perpendicularly, goingstraight up until lost to view. After they haddisappeared the fish stopped rising. Havingmarked them down, I determined to have onemore try with a large fly, and, to my amaze-ment, my first cast brought a swift rise, but noconnection was made. Resting the fish for amoment, I tried him again; he rose, and I wasfast in what appeared to be a very good fish.I had great difficulty in leading him to thelower end of the pool, so that I might not dis-turb the others, and finally netted him. Heproved to be a small trout and was hooked onthe side just above the tail. I then tried theothers, and, although I rose each one at leastthree times, I hooked none, nor on any occasiondid I feel that the fly had been touched. Bythis time it was quite dark and I left for home. On the three following days I met with thesame experience. I had innumerable rises tomy fly after the "curses" had left, hooked butone fish each evening, and, by a remarkable
    • 58 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERcoincidence, each foul and near the tail. Again,query: Was this mere accident or were thetrout trying to drench my fly? Were they stillon the lookout for the sport afforded them bythe clouds of insects? The gullets of the fishtaken were lined with the small insects, thestomachs also being well filled with them; buthow the fish took them after they had risenwithout my seeing some indication of it, Icannot imagine. I feel quite certain that theywere not taken at the instant of the rise,because the insects did not touch the water atany time; nor did the trout show any part oftheir bodies above the surface except their tails.So they could not have been taken in the air.Some day, perhaps, the problem may be solved,but at present I have no solution to offer. A bulging or smutting fish and a cursing an-gler are not a rare combination. If there isanything more perplexing and vexing than thesight of fish rising all about and ones best ef-forts going unrewarded, I cannot imagine whatit is. A bulging fish may be taken with an imitationof the insects he feeding upon, either sunk in isone form or floating in another; but a smuttingfish cannot be appealed to with any imitation
    • THE RISE 59of his food of the moment. The colour ofthe pests may be imitated, but no ingenuityof man can fashion an artificial so that it willresemble in size the minute form of the natural;and, even if ingenuity could do it, the hook tobe used in conformity would be absolutely use-less and probably quite as difficult to make asthe Lacking a correct imitation of the fly."curses," which, even if good, might not betaken, one may accept the rebuffs offered tohis flywith an equanimity born of the knowl-edge that he is not alone in his trouble. If smutting fish are to be taken at all theywillprobably be taken on a fly that has no re-semblance to any particular insect except, per-haps, one that is indigenous to the stream, orone in which the angler has faith. It may as-sume any form, flat-winged or erect. Colour,of course, not important, except that it should isnot be too brilliant; a fly of sombre hue, suchas the Whirling Dun, Cahill, or Evening Dun,being very effective, the Gold-Ribbed Hares Earor Wickhams Fancy frequently being accepted.I am inclined to think that a small fly receivesno more attention than a large one, if as much;but nothing larger than a No. 12 or No. 14 hookshould be used.
    • 60 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER Meeting with failure while the insects areabout, the angler should rest until they havedisappeared and then, having marked the posi-tion of the fish, try them with the method de-scribed for bulgers. Failing again, let him figureit out if he can. When fish are feeding upon some particularspecies of insect it is quite logical to assumethat an imitation of that species will appeal tothem more readily than an imitation of anyother. But when the insects are numerous, asthey are on occasions, and the fish are mov-ing about, the chance of the artificial fly beingselected from among the great number of nat-urals upon the water is one to whatever thenumber may be. As a general rule, the largerfish take up positions which by virtue of mightare theirs for the choosing and almost invari-ably in places where many flies are carried downby the current. If they be rising steadily theangler is enabled to reduce the odds againsthim by his ability to place his fly near the spotwhere he knows one to be lying. It does notfollow, however, that because certain insects areobserved flying about they are of the specieswith which the trout are engaged for the moment. If an insect be observed flying as though
    • THE RISE 61it had some objective point in view, it maybe safely concluded that it has but recentlyassumed the winged state. In this case it isattractive to the fish only at the moment itemerges from its shuck, or immediately after-ward while it is resting upon the water, for thevery obvious reason that it does not appearupon the water again until it is about to depositits eggs, if a female, or, if of the opposite sex,when it falls lifeless after the fulfilment of itsnatural duties. When the insects are seen dancing about overthe water, oftentimes a considerable heightabove it in some cases thirty feet or morethe observer be quite satisfied that they mayare the perfect males of the species waiting forthe females to appear. After the sexual func-tion has been completed the female may be seen over the water, dipping to the surfaceflittingand rising again, in the act of depositing hereggs, finally coming to rest as the function iscompleted, only to be swept away to her death.As she does not travel any considerable distanceduring this last act of her life, she proves ofgreatest interest to the fish at this stage of it. One who observes closely will see that at themoment the female approaches the water, or
    • 62 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERduring her subsequent dips, attempts, frequentlysuccessful, are made by the fish to capture her.As these efforts require some activity, they areresorted to usually by the more agile dandi-prats. The larger fish are quite as interestedin thedainty morsel as are their youngerbrothers, but they do not make the samefrantic efforts to secure it, preferring to attendthe fly closely in its movements until the oppor-tunity presents itself to take it with little orno exertion. This is usually at the time ovi-positing about completed or the fly is resting isupon the surface of the water preparatory toanother flight. The females of some species areless active inthe performance of this duty thanthose of others. They select the more placidstretches of the stream, ride quietly upon itssurface, and the eggs exude from the oviductas they sail along. Occasionally, after travel-ling in this manner for a time, they rise fromthe water, a short distance, and settle again. flyThey are incapable of guiding themselves andare naturally carried along by the current andover the fish. It has been observation that during the myperiod of ovipositing a great majority of the in-sects are headed directly up-stream, instinctively
    • THE RISE 63knowing, perhaps, that contact with the cur-rent in that position will more readily relievethem of their burdens. And, while I have nocertain knowledge that it is so, I am inclined tobelieve that the setae or hair-like tail enablesthem to assume and maintain this position.At any rate, it should be the anglers ambitionto imitate this action, and present his counter-feit with its tail or hook end coming down tothe This gives the added advantage of fish.having the business end taken first and elimi-nates the danger of disturbing the fish by hav-ing the shadow of the leader thrown over himin advance. To do it successfully calls for anicety of judgment in the handling of rod andline; but when the skill is acquired its success-ful execution has its own reward. The utmost caution should be used in ap-proaching a feeding fish. The danger of put-ting him down does not depend solely upon hisgetting sight of the angler; he may also beapprised of the anglers coming by the exciteddarting up-stream of smaller fish which havebeen below him. If the character of the waterto be fished indicates that other and smallerfish may be hidden, or if their presence be dis-closed by their feeding, it is much safer to cast
    • 64 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERat right angles to the selected fish than to at-tempt to cast from below and over the smallerones. If the situation demands that the fly beplaced from this position it should be floateddown to the fish from a point two or three feetabove and should not be cast directly over him.Inasmuch as the trout is more likely to see therod at this angle, a longer line should be thrownthan would otherwise be necessary and, if thefish has been well spotted, great care must beexercised in presenting the fly without undueaccompaniment of leader. The fly may be presented alone by using thehorizontal cast. If an attempt is being made todrop the fly three feet above the fish, it is neces-sary to aim at a spot six feet above, with a bitlonger line than will just reach, suddenly check-ing the cast at the very end as it straightens.This will have the effect of throwing the flydown-stream. The leader will describe a sharpcurve and follow after, and will not be seen bythe fish before he sees the fly. After the fly hasalighted, the rod should be held consistentlypointed directly at the fly and in a horizontalposition. Held in this way, it is less likely to beseen by the fish and a better control of the lineis had if a rise be effected.
    • THE RISE 65 There good reasons why the rod are, in fact,should be held horizontally whenever and wher-ever the floating fly is being used, the line beingstripped in by the unoccupied hand as much asmay be necessary to keep the fly under control. If the current be rapid between the angler andthe fish, he should use a foot or two more of lineand try to throw a larger curve in the leader sothat the fly may reach the fish before drag is ex-erted upon it. If the cast be well done there isat least an even chance that the fly will be taken;if not well done, no move should be made toretrieve the fly until it has floated some distancebelow the fish, and even then the retrieve shouldnot be made directly from the water with thefull length of line. The line, leader, and flywillbe swept down-stream at a speed depend-ing upon the current, and will be approachingthe anglers bank. By stripping the line inslowly and carefully, the fly may be lightlywhisked off with little or no disturbance of thesurface when there but the leader upon is littlethe water, and another attempt made. Theangler may continue this process as long as hefeels he has made no mistake. If the fly has been refused after a number ofcasts, and the fish continues to rise, it is some
    • 66 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERconsolation to know that he has not been dis-turbed by the casting. A change of tactics isvery often effective in such cases; and, if the flybe placed very close to the fish instead of beingfloated down to him, its sudden appearance,giving but little time for investigation, maycause him to rise to it. Whena rising fish may be cast to withoutdisturbing those below him, the angler is in amore favourable position. Where practicable,the effort should be to make the throw withthe leader curved and above the fly. Natu-rally, this is more easily accomplished when thefish looking up-stream is on the anglers lefthand. Unless one be ambidextrous, or skilfulenough to throw with the right hand from overthe left shoulder, a fish under the right-handbank is difficult to reach in this manner. Untilthe cast has been mastered, no attempt shouldbe made to throw the curve; but one need notdespair of taking fish in this position, eventhough this skill be lacking. The fly may bethrown straight, but from a more obtuse angle;and if, instead of being placed directly over orabove the be placed slightly above and fish, ita foot to the near side of the spot where herose, the danger of scaring him off with the
    • THE RISE 67leader is lessened, and the chance of his takingit not a bit. Where a long cast is required, the line shouldnever be extended to the length required toreach the fish. The distance should be mea-sured carefully, and, when the fly in the false orair casts reaches a point five or six feet fromthe fish, that much line which should bestripped from the reel and held in the lefthand should be allowed to pass through theguides on the next forward cast. This is calledshooting the line. Not only is it of great as-sistance in attaining accuracy, but the momen-tum imparted to the "live" line, that part al-ready clear of the top, is lost and does nottravel down which, shorn of impulse, to the fly,remains suspended for an instant above thewater and falls thereon as lightly as the pro-verbial feather. The should never be aimed directly at the flywater, but at an imaginary point three or fourfeet above, and a like distance in advanceof, the spot it is desired to reach. This di-rection must be implicitly observed in thismethod of casting, because the fly will invari-ably fall short unless a greater length of linebe used than is apparently necessary. Very
    • 68 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERoften the fly will fall heavily if just the requiredlength of line is used without "shooting." Where a fish is rising in the strong current, ashort line, not over twenty-five feet, will be suffi-cient and quite enough to handle, as it is returnedvery quickly to the angler. In this case the"shoot" may be abandoned in the actual deliv-ery of the and used only to lengthen the line flybetween casts after the retrieve, which shouldbe made only when the fly has passed consider-ably behind the fish the exact distance natu-rally being determined by the circumstances.The line should be stripped with the left handto keep pace with the speed with which the flytravels and no faster, else its action will not benatural. Nothing but the fly and leader shouldbe on the water, and as little of the latter aspossible. Get behind the fish, but do not castdirectly over him. The fly should come downpast him to one side or the other, with theleader always on the same side away from thefish. Early in the season, if the weather be pro-pitious and the stream in good condition, it isnot unlikely that fish will be seen rising through-out the day perhaps not all of the time butoften enough to keep the angler alert. The
    • THE RISE 69fact that they are rising at all is quite sufficientto arouse his interest, because, even though thefish nearest him does not take his fly, the oneabove may; and, all things considered, he mayhope to have a fairly interesting day, with thefurther chance, fortune smiles, of a good one. if How different the situation confronting the who elects to fish the streamsangler in the hotsummer months, with the water at its lowestmark, clear as crystal or gin, as the English-man has it and not a fish to be seen rising thewhole livelong day, for the very good reasonthat no insects are about to offer inducement.Even in June these conditions sometimes pre-vail,with the redeeming feature, however, thattoward evening the falling temperature, or theapproach of darkness, or both, seem to inducea rise of insects, with an accompanying rise oftrout. The angler, having patiently waited forthis time, sets hard at work and is content totake a couple of fair fish in the hour or so beforedark. I confess to a certain weakness for the streamduring those periods of extreme heat when thelocal experts agree thatit is almost impossibleto take fish. Actuated, perhaps, as much by adesire to take a good fish as by the hope of
    • 70 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERlearning whether or not their theories were cor-rect, have gone to the stream under such Iconditions and have had some curious experi-ences. I have taken fine fish on broiling hotdays when there seemed to be little differencebetween the temperature of the water and theair. On days when the "hatch" has been sothin that one would be warranted in thinkingthat the trout had forgotten that there ever wassuch a thing as a fly, I have taken some of mybest fish. On the other hand, there have beenmany occasions when I have met with utterdefeat, and, all in hardly know what I all, Ihave really learned from the experiences, sovaried have they been. One insufferably hot July day convinced me,however, that there are times when trout areinterested neither in food nor in anything else.For three sultry hours I cast over every likelyspot. I never rose a fish. I never saw one rise.I did not see a fish. At a beautiful pool, small but of good depth,considering the state of the water, I felt thatmy chance had come, and, after covering lastthe whole surface carefully, without result, de-liberately waded hoping to scare any into it,fish that might be there and so learn where
    • THE RISE 71they were hiding. I did not see a fin, andhad about decided it was tenantless, when,looking down, I my saw, close to feet, the tailof a fish sticking out from under a small boulder.I looked under the up-stream side of the boulder,hoping to see the fishs head, but could not, asthere was no hollow on that side. gently Istroked that part of the fish in sight with thetip of my rod, and received in acknowledgmenta gentle waving of the tail. Placing my gearbehind me in the dry bed of the stream, I pro-ceeded to move manner the boulder to see whatof trout this might be. Not until I had it com-pletely removed did he stir and then he movedbut a short distance to a similar hiding-place.He was a brown trout about fifteen inches long,and so sluggish was he that it would have beenthe simplest matter to have seized him with myhands. A short distance above the pool there is adam famous for the big trout which make theirhome under it. covered the water faithfully, Iwithout success, and, after I had finished, crawledout upon the apron of the dam. Peering intothe pool below, I saw, directly underneath me,eighteen or twenty trout ranging from six inchesin length to one old "lunker" over twenty. As
    • 72 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERthis spot had been cast over repeatedly, andapparently without any glaring error, I felt inno humour to try again, but determined to testtheir appetites in another Catching a half way.dozen grasshoppers, I dropped one in front ofthe big fish that led the school. He paid notthe slightest attention to it. Neither did anyof the others, not even the smallest one. I triedagain, throwing another grasshopper a bit up-stream so that it would float down in plainview for a longer time, and again provokedno interest upon the part of the fish. Finally,I killed one of the grasshoppers, crushing it sothat it would sink, and threw it well abovethe fish. It came down under water directlyon a line with the big fish, which deliber-ately moved a bit to one side, apparently toavoid having it touch him. Each fish behindhim did the same thing, even the smallest onesignoring it. Now, what sort of a fly, wet, sunk, or dry, or,ifthe angler was inclined to try it, what sort ofbait could he use to interest such fish? Underthe conditions then prevailing the thermometerrecording 94 degrees in the shade, the stream atitslowest point, and the temperature of thewater very high I really believe that the only
    • THE RISE 73chance he might have had would have been witha very "wet" mint julep. Under the circum-stances would have required considerable self- itdenial to have offered that. This heat was ex-ceptional, however, and fishing in such weatherisquite as trying as fishing in the cold, bluster-ing days of early spring. In either case, evenif fish are taken, enthusiasm not greatly isaroused on the part of either angler or trout. I confess I do not know what method of flyfishing one may when the use to entice a trouttemperature is extreme, because when the fishis found under a boulder, as he probably willbe, he will not see a floating fly, and it is almosthopeless to expect a sunken fly to attract anyattention witness the case of the idle fish andthe grasshoppers. If fish not hiding in cav-erns refuse live grasshoppers dropped directlyin front of their noses, is quite evident that itthere is small chance of taking them on anysort of artificial lure. Leaving out of consideration, however, thefew periods of unbearable heat, that part ofthe season between June 15 and August 31may have many days rich in experience forthe angler, and even though there be manydays when the fish will be found not to be ris-
    • 74 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERing to natural insects, the pleasure derivablefrom trying for success is commensurate withthe difficulty of approaching and luring them. When the streams are low and clear great cir-cumspection and care are required in approach-ing fish or likely places and in presenting thefly. The slightest error will be detected at once,and subsequent attempts to interest the fish willbe effort merely wasted. The angler who carefully casts over and thor-oughly a likely piece of water should not fishescome too quickly to the conclusion that it con-tains no fish. If it happens to be one of thosedays (too frequent in the experience of the pres-ent-day angler) when a great length of streammay be traversed without his seeing the slight- he may, of course,est indication of a rising fish,ifhe be so inclined, comfort himself with thethought that the fish are not feeding andabandon his fishing. But I hope to show thatupon just such days the proper use of the dryfly will measure the difference between an emptycreel and some success, even though that suc-cess be limited to the probability of a singlegood fish. An English dry fly angler fishing our EasternAmerican streams by rote and casting only over
    • THE RISE 75or to rising fish would have many empty days torecord in his diary. Days and days might passwithout his seeing the "dimple" of a big fish oreven the splash of a small one, except, possibly,just at dusk; and at such times his skill andpatience would be taxed as heavily as ever byany smutting fish of a chalk stream. But doesit follow, as some authorities seem to have sug-gested, that because a fish is not risen by a fewcasts here and there it has no inclination tocome to the surface or that such inclinationmay not be aroused ? I think not, my experiencehaving proven the contrary. The entire theory of forcing the fish to riseto the fly isbased upon the fact that a troutmay be decoyed from the position occupied byit when not feeding to one fixed by the angler,provided, of course, the fish is not asked tocome any great distance. The practice of themethod necessitates considerable knowledge ofthe fish and of the character of the places itfrequents. The fly cast, say, twenty times, inclose proximity to the supposed lair of a fish, innine cases out of ten will prove more effectivethan twice the same number of casts placedindiscriminately over the water. But no glaringmistake, such as undue splashing or frantic wav-
    • 76 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERing of the rod, overlooked by the fish. If issuch errors have been committed, the anglerhad best retire and try some fish that has notbecome acquainted with him. Having chosen the point of vantage fromwhich to assail the fish, which choice should begoverned, first, by reason being out of of itsrange of the trouts vision, and then by theavailability of casting room behind note the !order of importance the single fly should beplaced a foot or two from the spot where thefish is supposed to be and to one side of it.The instructions given in regard to casting tobulging fish so as to produce the effect of ahatch should be followed to the letter. Evenwhere the distance seems rather too far toexpect the fish to travel, it is better to selectwater that flows continuously in one direction inwhich to place the fly. It is preferable to havethe fly travel in one "lane" during its prome-nade, rather than to have its action marred by apossible drag resulting from an attempt to getit closer to the fish. If the fly has been naturalin its action, quite likely that it has at- it istracted the attention of the fish, and the anglermay any moment be amazed to see a trout atbacking slowly down-stream under it, seemingly
    • THE RISE 77coming from nowhere. This isthe trying time,as the fish, having come closer to the angler, ismore be frightened off by any sudden likely tomovement; but if the angler is careful, thesatisfaction of eventually seeing the fish risedeliberately and fasten to the fly is not to bemeasured by that of taking a larger fish by anyother method. Great care should be exercised in retrievingthe fly from the water, because a fish takingup a position under the anglers lane of fliesusually backs down-stream a bit. In no caseshould the fly be retrieved until it has floateddown to a point nearly at right angles to oreven below the rod. Strict observance of thisrule will prevent scaring off many fish thatmight otherwise be induced to rise. Where the swiftness of the current precludesany possibility of preventing drag, particularlyin those miniature pools behind rocks in thecentre of the stream called "pockets," the flymay be placed lightly thereon, and as lightlywhisked away, being left but an instant, tobe returned immediately and often, until theangler is satisfied that the pocket contains nofish, or that he is unable to interest them if itdoes. In any event, he need not feel that an
    • 78 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERopportunity has been lost to him because of hisinability to avoid drag, for in this sort of waterthe error not always observed by the fish. is There can be no question but that stalking afeeding fish and finally taking him on an arti-ficial fly affords sport of the highest quality.The taking of a fish that may be seen but isnot feeding, either because of lack of food ordisinclination, is quite as difficult to accomplish,however, and is productive of equally good sport. I relate the following story of the takingof a trout under almost impossible conditions,not so much to illustrate the success of themethod as to show the satisfaction that attendsthe accomplishment of the feat. This individ-ual fish is only one of many that I have takensimilarly in the many years that I have fishedwith the floating fly, and the history of itstaking given here because it illustrates and isbolsters up my claim that the dry fly repeatedlycast over a sluggish, non-feeding fish will in-duce him to rise. The two days of the season of 1909, lastAugust 29 and 30, found me on the banks ofthe Kaaterskill, at Palenville, Greene County,N. Y. This stream is a brawling one, resem-bling many Rocky Mountain streams, and
    • THE RISE 79some magnificent rainbow trout inhabit it; yetin six hours fishing, one afternoon, I raised butone good-sized fish, in which I left my fly. Thedozen or more from ten to twenty inches in fishlength which could be seen restlessly swimmingabout in each of the pools appeared to be inter-ested innothing but a desire to escape theintense heat, and at length I abandoned thesport as hopeless. Agentleman who had once lived in that sec-tion, and who had fished the streams of the sur-rounding country for over thirty years, invitedme to fish a stream some miles away with himthe next day. accepted his invitation, and the Imorning found us on the banks of what shouldhave been the Plattekill, but proved to benothing but a mere trickle. With many mis-givings I started in, my companion going up-stream about a mile to fish down and meet me. The only likely water within three or fourhundred yards was a pool under a dam, and hereI rose and pricked a good fish. Leaving him, Icut across a neck of land to meet my companionat the turn, and found him ready to quit. ButI determined to try again for the fish I hadrisen, and, while following the stream back, dis-covered a pool against the bank, some eight
    • 8o THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERfeet wide and not over a dozen in length, withsix feet of water in it. On the bottom lay afine brown trout, as motionless as if dead. Hewas actually lying on the sand and pebbles,apparently devoid of all interest in life. I with-drew quietly and, getting below him and be-hind a tree-stump on the bank, put on a newfly a Whirling Dun and, with but little hope,sent the fly on its errand. It fell lightly uponthe glassy surface about a yard above the fish,which was at all times in plain view; but heseemed entirely oblivious to it. There waspractically no current to carry it down, and itseemed an interminable length of time beforethe fly got below the fish far enough for me totake it off the water without disturbance; butat last I retrieved it and, after drying it thor-oughly, dropped it again. I repeated this opera-tion six times before I noticed any change inthe position of the fish, and all of the time hewas just "lolling" on the bottom. The sixthcast seemed to attract his attention, and, withall fins moving, he lifted ever so little from thebottom and stood poised. I felt that I had himinterested that he was alert and I knew thatthe slightest mistake from then on meant failure,complete and certain; and my excitement was
    • THE RISE 81not helping a bit. Another cast, and I imaginedI could see him tremble; at any rate, his finsmoved rapidly, but without imparting anymotion to the body, except to lift it an inch ortwo toward the surface. Each succeeding castbrought the same excited action of the fins andtempted him a few inches nearer the surface.I thought he never would reach the top, andfelt that if he didnt get within his distancesoon would bungle the whole affair. At last, Iand after I had made more than twenty-fivecasts, he had risen to within six inches of thesurface; as the fly was presented again, hemade a determined rush, stopping just short ofit and allowing it to float over him, apparentlywithout further interest. Igently retrieved thefly, though I felt that it was all over, as thefish had probably detected the fraud. However,I made another cast and the fly fortunatelyalighted softly. The fish made the same rush,refusing it as before; but after the fly hadfloated down a foot or so, he turned slowly anddeliberately down-stream, and, rising quietly,took the fly with a distinct "suck," turned to godown with it, and was fast. This was not a very large trout fifteeninches or so but his taking afforded more genu-
    • 82 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERine sport than a dozen larger ones might haveyielded taken inany other way, because of thecircumstances under which it was accomplished.I may have had a possible advantage over him,because a floating fly had, probably, never beencast on the stream before. Aside from thisfact, it cannot be said that the element of luckentered into the affair at all, except, perhaps,in so far as it enabled me to deliver my fly somany times without mistake. I have, however,taken other and larger fish in practically manythe same manner and by the employment of thesame tactics, and know the method to be soundin theory and practice. For the solace of thebeginner who may attempt to practise themethod, let me add that in the beginning thefish I took were, probably, a very small numberof those from which all thoughts of feeding weredriven by my bungling. If a trout lying in a small pool and in plainview, as was the one whose story has just beentold, could be induced to come up through sixfeet of water to take the fly, is it not fair toassume that an unseen fish may also be forcedto rise by the same tactics ? Of course, in thecase of an unseen the angler labours under fish,some disadvantage, because he is casting some-
    • THE RISE 83what in the dark. In addition to ability to de-liver many casts perfectly to a selected spot, hemust also have the experience and knowledgethat enable him to decide, at least approxi-mately, where the fish may lie under the pre-vailing conditions. If his judgment in this par-ticular is at fault his chances of rising the fishare gone. He should, therefore, assume that itoccupies any of three or four positions, and forhis first cast should choose that one of themwhich may be cast over with the least danger ofdisturbing the fish should it occupy any one ofthe others. If a rise be not had after a certainnumber of casts over the chosen position, theothers should each be fished in turn. The chance of putting down a fish for goodwill increase in number of proportion to thecasts over each position, multiplied by the num-ber of positions. That a rise is not had fromthe position first chosen will not prove that afish does not occupy it, and the anglers sub-sequent casts will be made under increaseddifficulty, because of his efforts to refrain fromfurther disturbing that water. Before leaving this subject, and at the riskof becoming somewhat tedious and tiring myreader, I will relate the circumstances of the
    • 84 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERtaking of an unseen fish by repeatedly castingover a chosen spot in other words, of "forcinga rise." The incident has an added interestbecause a fellow angler witnessed it and wasthereby convinced that a fish could be movedinto position by the fly. We were fishing the Brodhead, in Pennsyl-vania. It was in July and the day was very-hot. The water was extremely low and veryclear,and the upper reach of the stream justbelow the Canadensis bridge, which we hadelected to fish, did not look big enough tohold a trout of any size. In one particularstretch there was a hundred yards of veryshallow water, a small pocket on the right-hand bank being the only likely looking spot.I knew this stretch held many fine fish when thestream was in better condition, and I decidedthat this particular pocket might be the abiding-place of a good trout. As was approaching itthe noon hour, I determined to go no fartherup-stream but to spend a half hour experi-menting on the little pocket. The surface of the miniature pool was notover eight feet wide anywhere nor more thanthat in length, but depth below a jutting itsrock which formed one side of it convinced me
    • THE RISE 85that it was worth trying, although there was noactual indication that a fish occupied it. Thebottom was plainly discernible except in theswifter water near the head, and, as no fishcould be seen, I selected the edge of this swiftwater upon which to place my fly. A dozen ormore casts were made without any apparenteffect, when suddenly a yellow gleam at thetailof the pocket, just after the fly had floatedover the lip, disclosed a fine trout poised in theflattening water. Explaining the situation tomy companion who was now all excitement,having seen the fish, and who really did notbelieve it could be taken on the spur of themoment decided to try to prove my theory Iat the risk of losing the fish. I ceased castingto him. We watched him for probably two orthree minutes, during which time he appearedto be keenly alert, when he quietly left hisposition and moved back up-stream into theswift water and out of sight. My opportunityhad come, although my friend thought I hadlost it. To make more certain that the colourof the fly played no part in the affair, I sub-stituted a Silver Sedge for the Whirling DunI had been using. After about a dozen castswith this fly there came the same yellow gleam,
    • 86 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERand the fish was back into position again. Thistime continued casting, and, although he Iseemed to "lean" toward the fly each time itcame down, he did not take it until it hadpassed by ten times, finally rising deliberatelyand fastening on the eleventh cast. He provedto weigh one pound ten ounces. To what conclusion does the observation ofthis fish bring us? If he had been ready to feedbefore the artificial appeared, is it likely thathe would have permitted it to pass over ornear him a score of times before taking? Andwhen he occupied what I call his feeding posi-tion, did he allow the fly to pass ten times, whyalthough exhibiting a certain interest in it eachtime ? was never beyond his reach and could Iteasily have been taken. Was the desire to feedbeing gradually aroused in him at each sight ofthe fly? When he did take it, it was done withsuch certainty that he must have believed it tobe a natural, although quite unlike anything hehad recently seen. One thing is certain, how-ever. He was decoyed from one position to an-other on two occasions within a few minutes ofeach other, and by a different pattern of flyeach time.
    • CHAPTER IV WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH THE swift streams in the eastern part of theUnited States must, as a be fished by rule,wading. Where it is possible, because of theabsence of trees and brush, to fish from thebank, the anglers form is silhouetted sharplyagainst the background of sky, and, to over-come this disadvantage, he must retire somedistance from the edge of the bank, or, if hewishes to come closer, must kneel or crouch toavoid being seen by the fish. By casting fromthe bank he will avoid the disturbance of thewater necessarily made by entering it, and thisis, of course, an advantage. On the other hand,he is closer to the surface of the stream whilewading, in which position he is not so easilyseen, which is also an advantage. Offsetting thelatter, however, is made by his the commotionmovements, which, no matter how deliberate,will make the trout nervous or apprehensive ofapproaching danger. If he has shown himself,even though the fish has been vigorously feed- 87
    • 88 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERing,he might just as well abandon any attemptto induce a rise, because the trout, having beenwarned by his careless approach, will havescurried away. The danger of putting down afish in swift water not so great because the isripples sent in advance of the angler make littleheadway and travel no great distance againsta strong current. To describe places where trout may be lookedfor under any and all circumstances, is prac-tically impossible. Very often the fish will notbe found where the angler thinks they shouldbe. They and idiosyn- are as full of notionscrasies as anglers themselves, and one mayhope to become familiar with their habitat in ageneral way only, and this after close study.I say "in a general way," because, while a bigtrout may be known to inhabit a certain pool,it does not follow that he is in the same spotto-day that he occupied yesterday or the daybefore. He may be looked for somewhereabout, but a distance of even three or four feetfrom his previous known position may so placehim as to prevent the angler from approachingwithout being seen. I am speaking of fish thatare not rising. Of course, if they should befeeding upon the surface they are easily spotted.
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 89 Each pool or piece of water should be ex-amined carefully after it has been fished. Inthis the deeper holes, the nooks under the waybanks, and the crevices between boulders arediscovered and marked down. If the angler isto spend much time on a stream that is new tohim, it is even permissible to enter the deeperwater quietly for the purpose of a thorough in-vestigation; but under no circumstances shouldthis be done if other anglers are upon the stream.As a rule, we are too careless of others rights,and the ethics of fly fishing should be observedquite as closely as the code that governs ouractions in any other sport. A long, flat stretch of the stream is likely tocontain many big and must be approached fish,in the most circumspect manner. The anglerwho hopes to take one of them should studythe water carefully before entering it, and striveto determine just where the biggest fish lie.The character of the water and its tempera-ture and the prevailing weather conditions arethe data from which he must make his de-ductions. By way of illustration, let us assume that theangler upon the stream, prepared to fish it. is The day is one somewhere between the first
    • 90 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERof May and the fifteenth of June. It is not toobright, and a light wind with a touch of summerin blowing up-stream. The water is running it isdown after a light rain, and while not crystalclear is not much discoloured. It is about five-thirty oclock of the afternoon, and the troutfrom below the stretch are coming on the feed.The flat to be fished is about one hundred andfifty feet long from where the water flows intoit to where it rolls out again at the tail, andabout fifty feet wide where the banks arefarthest apart, narrowing, fan-like, to ten feetor less at the head. The current, gliding silentlyalong the left bank (looking up-stream), showsthe deep water to be on that side. These areideal conditions, of course, and I have chosenthem for that very reason. The angler is in-deed fortunate who happens upon the streamwhen they prevail. The natural place to look for trout undersuch conditions is anywhere along the left bankin the deep water. If flies are hatching as inallprobability they will be at this season theangler need but watch for the rise that willindicate the position of the feeding fish. Ifthese fish be small, as will be evidenced by the"staccato smack" made as the fly is taken, he
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 91should move farther up-stream, because noreally big feeding fish need be looked forwhere small ones are: vice versa, little fish rarelyfeed in the same place and at the same time asbig ones. If no rise is seen, the task then is tolocate the fish, and, under the favourable con-ditions prevailing, it may be fairly assumed thatthey are ready to feed. There will be one placein the flat where more surface food collects thanin any other, and one place where more comesdown-stream because of converging currents.In one of such places the biggest fish will befound. Wherever an eddy swirls gently against asmall cove in the bank, or the force of the cur-rent spends itself against a rock, making a deadwater or backwater above it, the fly maysearch and find many fine trout. If the back-water at the head of the stretch is of an areagreat enough to collect and hold the foam madeby the tumbling water, this is the spot fromwhich the angler may hope to secure one of thebest fish in the pool, if not the best. One of thefavourite feeding positions of a large trout isunder this foam, and the placed carefully fly,again and again, often tempts him to move intohis feeding position when, at the beginning of
    • 92 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERthe casting, he lay outside of it. The fly shouldbe dropped lightly on the foam and permittedto remain there until it is snatched away by thecurrent. It that this particular part of may happenthe stretch does not contain one very large fishthat "lords it" over a considerable area, but anumber of fair-sized ones which, if feeding, willbe somewhat scattered, and should be lookedfor in each of the places described. Before or after the foam, backwater, andeddies have been tried, preferably before, thewater on either side of the swiftest part of thecurrent should be cast over, the fly being placedjust at the bottom and at the side of the"lumpy"water. A fly cast to this position is extremelyeffective, dancing most naturally as it comesswiftly down-stream. This water should betested thoroughly, the fly being placed alwaysin the same spot and permitted to follow thesame course for as long a distance as possible. As daylight wanes, the fish often drop back tothe tail of the stretch, sometimes feeding uponthe very lip, or just above where the water be-gins to quicken before it spills out. This habitof trout may be due to their becoming lesswary as dark approaches, and, consequently,
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 93quite willing to enter the shallower water, wherethey find it easier to pick up a few insects ora minnow or two than in the deeper, swifterwater above. Wherefore, if the angler has beenunsuccessful at the head of the stretch, let him,by travelling circuitously, find a position somedistance below the lip, and fish the still watercarefully as long as he can see his fly. day hot and bright, the water low and If the isclear, and the fish not in any of the positionsalready described, they may be in either one oftwo places along the bank or in the whitewater at the head. If the fish are lying alongside of the bankthey prove to be as difficult to take as the willmost fastidious could wish. Knowledge of thecrannies, depth, etc., will help the angler andmake his task easier. But if the water is strangeto him, and the trout must be searched for, histask is more complicated and he must exercisethe greatest care in approaching. In manycases the stretches are lined on both sides byalders, willows, and the like, that make it im-possible to cast without entering the water and,by so doing, forming ripples which, advancingahead of the fly, warn the trout that danger isafoot. Exercising patience, he may walk slowly
    • 94 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERand quietly into the water at the tail of thestretch and as closely as possible to the bank thefish are Having attained the desired under.position, he should remain there long enough toallow all commotion made by his entry to cease,during which time no motion of the rod shouldbe made, because the sight of any moving objectwill send the now alert^trout scurrying, while theripples will make him uneasy for a short timeonly. The horizontal cast should be used if pos-sible. The fly should be floated down about afoot from the bank, and it should not be retrieveduntil it has travelled more than half the distancebetween the angler and the spot where it alighted.Casting should be continued until a mistakehas marred the attempt, when the angler shoulddesist, to resume after a short time has elapsedif the error has not been a glaring one. When satisfied that no trout are within the sec-tion covered by the fly, the angler should lengthenhis line the fly a few feet above always and fishpermitting the fly to travel over the water al-ready fished. He should continue this until themaximum line that can be handled neatly with-out moving from the original position is beingcast. When the line becomes unwieldy (in thismethod and position it is courting failure to
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 95attempt anything over thirty-five to~forty feet,even if one is expert) an advance may be madea few yards up-stream as closely to the bank asthe depth of the water and free casting spacewill permit. As it is quite possible and likely,too that a trout has been under the fly all thewhile, but was not interested in it, the anglersadvance will drive him ahead, and indicationsof this should be sharply looked for. The dis-covery of the fish will save much valuable time,for in that case the immediate stretch may beabandoned, because any fish above the one seenwill have certainly taken alarm at the actions ofhis fellow and will have lost all desire to feedfor some time. If no fish is disturbed, search the bank care-fully along its length, always remembering tohave the fly float down a considerable dis-tance before retrieving. The chances are quiteeven, if the approach has been made carefullyand that a good fish will be risen. quietly,In such water only skill of the highest typeis rewarded. not possible to follow If it isalong the bank under which the trout are lying,the cast may be made from the opposite side;but in this case a longer line should be used.If the water must be entered to reach the bank
    • 96 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERfrom the opposite side and unfortunately, this,isusually the case the angler should not moveor allow his rod to move for some time after hehas taken his position. Having reached the head of the stretch, theangler may go over the eddies, backwater, andswift, and, if he meets with no response, thewhite water. This, above all places, is the diffi-cult water to fish with the dry fly, and manyanglers believe it to be quite impossible. Ifthe dry fly be fished as is the wet fly that is,cast in the swirl and allowed to drift about anddown it become thoroughly drenched. But willif it is placed properly and with due calculation,it is as easily kept dry and floating as uponany other part of the stream. The explana-tion lies in the fact that the fly is not placeddirectly upon the white water at all, if it beproperly placed, but is cast to either side of theswift water, always on the side nearest theangler first, who should pick out the smoothlooking spots upon which to place the fly. Thefish which the wet takes directly from fly anglerthe centre of the current are taken on the dryfly by being induced to move out of their posi-tion. A very short line is used, and the fly isfloated but a foot or two, being dropped lightly
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 97again and again. I will admit that trout arenot taken from the white water in this way bythe dry fly asfrequently as they are with thesunk fly, but when one is taken it is usually agood fish. On either side of the brink of the miniaturefall above the white water may be seen boul-ders, seemingly acting asgatemen, directing therunning waters to pass between. The currentgliding swiftly toward them, deflected to rightand left, reminds one of a flock of sheep trying allto get through a gap in the fence at the sametime, those caught against the edge of the open-ing making headway; and so it is with that littlepart of the current which spends most of itsforce against the boulders. If this water beexamined it will be discovered that consider-able dead or back water is formed under thesurface just above the boulders. Such placesare among the selected retreats of Salmo fario. A fly floated down from a point two feet aboveand retrieved just as it is about to go over thefall may produce a very pretty picture for theangler. If the fly upon its first appearance hasbeen seen by the trout, he is often induced torush at it,and, missing, goes headlong over thefall, instinct telling him, perhaps, that he may
    • 98 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERfind it below. Not to disappoint him, the anglerdrops it immediately at the edge of the whitewater, where it usually meets with a viciousreception. Should all not come off as planned,the flymay be cast again above the boulder andretrieved as before. The fish may be temptedto dart out and seize it after a dozen or morecasts. If hooked, he will come over the fall tobe dealt with in the smoother water below, andthe angler will not have missed the picture,after all. Native trout rarely occupy such positions,but they should never be overlooked in streamsknown to contain brown or rainbow trout. Sometimes a short stretch of smooth, swiftwater will be found sweeping silently along themossy bank just above the sentinel boulders atthe head of the white water. The bank isprobably shaded by overhanging rhododendron,or alder growth, that lends to the water a pe-culiar, greenish hue. This stretch may be oc-cupied by fine fish that, because of some effectof light or shade, seem better able to detect theapproach of an angler or the connection of theleader with the fly than do fish in similar watersunshaded. A longer line is necessary here, andgreat care should be exercised to refrain, as far
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 99as possible, from entering that arc of a circlewhich is presumed to limit the range of thetrouts vision. Difficulty will also be experi-enced in handling the line, owing to the greaterlength used and the rapidity with which it willbe returned by the current. The danger ofscaring the fish is minimised if the fly be de-livered from a point almost directly in line withthe current and the horizontal cast used. Whilenot always necessary, the horizontal cast isbetter at all times, as the fly seems to cock morereadily when thrown from this angle. As a stretch of this character usually of uni- isform depth along the greater part of its length,the fish may be in any part of it on a "feeding"day a day when those below seemed to havebeen willing to feed. The fly should be placed atthe foot of the stretch and on the side nearest therod, and gradually worked, in the subsequentcasts, toward the centre and head. This mustbe done slowly, however, and the fly should notbe retrieved until it has come down some dis-tance and has passed the spot where the firstcast was delivered. The fish, in all probability,will be found near the middle of the stretchand to the side of the centre of the currentnearer the bank. No attempt should be made
    • ioo THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERto get closer, because the chance of having thefish come to the fly is greater than that of histaking, after the line has been seen. When the prevailing conditions indicate thatthe trout are not in the open in other words,are not fully engaged in feeding or in looking forfood they will usually be found lying near thebank. In such cases, the first attempt shouldbe made at the tail or down-stream end of theswift, the fly being gradually worked up-streama foot or so at a time and about a foot from thebank. It should be allowed to drift down tothe foot of the stretch each time, and the cast-ing continued until the entire length of the bankhas been thoroughly searched. If the bankshould be of gravelly or earthy formation itmay be an overhanging one, having been under-mined by the action of the current. The anglermay be certain that this that part above is so ifwater shows a mass or network of bared roots.In this case the same procedure is followed,with the exception that the fly should be placedtwo feet, or even more, from the edge of thetangle, so that it may come the better withinthe angle of the fishs vision. It is quite obviousthat a fly placed too close to the bank will beunseen by a fish occupying the hollow under it.
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 101Great perseverance, even persistence, required isto induce a fish to leave a retreat of this sort inwhich he snugly ensconced, but the attempt isshould not be abandoned while it is certainthat no blunder has been made. Large troutlove these places, and coaxing one out is worth agreat deal of effort. Long before a rise is effected, warning of thepossibility of its coming off is given by the he leaves his position underflash of a trout asthe bank to assume another under the lane orhatch of frauds. The trout is often a betterjudge of distance than the angler, and whenthis action of the fish is observed, any attemptto make it easier for him by placing the flycloser to the bank will, in all probability, puta stop to further interest on his part. Diffi-cult as it is to disobey the impulse to place thefly where the fish was seen, it must be resisted,because, while there is a possibility that the fishmay be risen, there is a greater likelihood that hewillbe put down. For this reason the originalplan should be followed without deviation.Ask him to come to the fly, and, while he mayseem diffident at first, he will finally accept theinvitation. These swifts, or runs, as they are termed,
    • 102 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERvary in length from fifteen to fifty feet, or more,and the greater their length the more difficultthey are for the angler to cover without showinghimself. They are the narrows of the stream,and, where the water isfound to be of unvary-ing depth, the fish may be looked for in any partof them. The steady, rapid flow of the currentis admirably adapted to the use of the floatingfly, and is particularly attractive to those im-patient ones who are unwilling to wait andwatch the flys slow progress on the quieterwaters. Where the run being fished is dis-tinctly "lumpy" that speed is is, where itsgreater because of the sharper incline in thestream bed, and miniature waves are formedthat hurry down one after another the floatingfly will be more difficult to handle, but is veryeffective if well placed. It was once my good fortune to see a stretchof this character on the Neversink fished by a Mr. Walter McGuckin, who has been myfriend,companion on many fishing excursions. He isone of the best hands with a rod that I haveever seen. His precision with the fly is remark-able, and I doubt if the grace and ease withwhich he handles his line can be excelled. Hisskill is fortified with a knowledge of trout gained
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 103by over thirty-five years experience on thewaters of New York State. And, by the by,although he has used the wet fly for the greaterportion of this time, he will now take his fish onthe dry fly or not at all. The weather of four seasons had been crowdedinto a single day and end of May. this at theAlthough no insects of any kind had been seen,we had been able to mark a fish down the daybefore, when he had shown himself for an in-stant. Having fished the smooth water oneither side of the centre of the current with-out engaging the fishs attention, my frienddecided to "ride his fly" on top of the waves inthe very swiftest part of the current. To dothis effectively, and without having too muchof the leader on the water, the chance of expos-ing himself to the fish was taken, as the flyhad to be delivered from almost a right angle.However, it all came off correctly, and the fly,seeming barely to touch the water as it dancedalong, appeared even more lifelike than a nat-ural insect. So, too, must have appeared to itthe trout, for, after a number of casts had beenmade, a fish leaped directly from one wave tothe one above, upon which was the fly, took itwith mouth wide open and dived under. He
    • 104 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERwas led gently to the still water below, and,although he proved to be a fine brown trout, hismanner of taking the fly appealed to us morethan his quality, and he was returned to thestream. The rise is the thing, and a dashingone of this sort makes the blood quicken asthe dull chug of a fish taking under waternever can. When a trout istaken on a floating fly frombeneath the tangled rubbish which collectsabout the submerged roots of a fallen tree orstump, the angler may attribute his success tocommon sense and reason more than to hisdexterity in placing the fly. If we assume thatthe fish is under the tangle, taking advantageof the shade and protection it affords, is it log-ical to expect him to worm his way up throughit to take a fly? And, as his head is invariablypointed up-stream, is it at all likely that a flyplaced behind him will be observed? The an-swer is obviously, no! When a trout occupiesa position of this character, it is always becauseof proximity to water which will permit itshim the greatest freedom in securing food or inescaping from danger. He is often unwilling,and frequently unable, to dart rapidly down-stream when moved by either of these considera-
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 105tions, and the should be so presented that flyit will ask nothing uncommon of him. Many anglers fail to take fish from these justlyfamed and wisely chosen domiciles of big trout,because of their reluctance or inability to esti-mate the odds on or against the sporting propo-sition. They are not ready to risk a ten centfly forthe purpose of properly fishing a spotwhich has cost them a hundred times as much toreach. With a few desultory casts placed, usu-ally, where they will do the good and where, leastperhaps, a dozen others have been placed be-fore that same day, sometimes within the hourthey move on. Congratulating themselves thatthey are safely out of a tight place, or comfort-ing themselves with the thought that if a trouthad been hooked it would have been any- lostway in the tangled mass, they abandon thespot but always, I opine, with a lingering lookbackward. That these promising but difficultwaters are prone to lure the angler into dangerof hanging up solidly should make them themore interesting. When a good trout is takenfrom them, it is usually by a master of the craft,and no compassion need be wasted upon thefish it has fallen into good and deserving hands. The common practice of careless anglers is to
    • io6 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERplace the fly as close to the root or snag as theycan, where there is but slight chance of its beingseen by the fish at least while upon the it issurface. Naturally, the fly if be sunk to adepth which will bring it within the horizontalplane of the fishs vision, it will be seen by himmore readily. But, in fishing the floating fly,due allowance must be made for that portionof an imaginary circle enclosing the base of aninverted cone which will not come within viewof the fish at This part will be the apex.directly over him, extending at an angle mea-sured by the diameter of the root or snag underwhich he is hiding, this snag and the bank nat-urally being included in the calculation. Toreach a fish in this position, or rather to placethe fly so that it will be seen by him, an imagi-nary semicircle should be drawn about the spot,with a diameter equal to at least twice the knowndiameter of the obstacle, and the fly fished onthis curved line until the circumference has beencovered. Unless the angler can determine ac-curately the depth of the water or the submergedportion of the log, root, or whatever the ob-stacle may any allowance made over and be,above what appears necessary from the calcu-lation will be to his advantage.
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 107 The down-stream part of the imaginary semi-circle will prove to be the least productive, forthe reason that it is difficult to interest a fishfrom behind, he being more concerned abouthappenings in front of him. Nevertheless, con-siderable effort should be expended upon thispart of it, always a possibility of the as there isfish being nearer the angler than has been cal-culated. Having fished it thoroughly, the wateralong the upper half of it may then be covered.The edge of this segment of the semicircle shouldbe reached from a point nearly at right anglesto its tangent, the angler retiring and assuminga position at a reasonable distance from thepoint being assailed. The rise may be lookedfor in that water where the swiftest part ofthe current flows directly toward and againstthe obstruction. And, as it is advantageous tohave the flycover a great distance upon thesurface, it should be dropped a foot or twofarther up-stream from the snag than when cast-ing to the side of it. If the flow against theobstruction be studied there will be discoveredon the edge of the current nearest the angler aspot whence the fly, being placed correctly, willbe carried down to the obstacle and aroundit and will thus be exposed to the view of the
    • io8 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERtrout without danger of drag or of "hangingup." The fly alone must travel in this part ofthe current, and the longer it travels in sight ofthe fish the greater is the likelihood of interest-ing him. Barring, always, the chance of error,the probability of taking the fish increaseswith each cast made. The situation confront-ing the angler who fastens to a fish in thiswater a very trying one, and, is if a fish sohooked is to be saved for the creel, tendermethods will not avail. He must be uncere-moniously bundled out and away from the dan-gerous spot, with every turn and crook of whichhe is familiar. Aside from the fact that fishing well out froman obstacle gives a fish beneath it a more cer-tain chance of seeing the anglers fly, the methodhas an additional advantage in that it lessensthe risk of "hanging up" on one of the earlycasts an accident that is very apt "to cut shortthe anglers attempt if he tries to deliver his flyin places that are difficult to reach. But theangler whounwilling to chance the loss of a isfly by placing it close to a mass of drift or over-hanging branches is not over-anxious to takesizable fish, and his success is usually meagrein proportion to the risk assumed.
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 109 Fishing the "edge of the circle" will fre-quently be found to be more effective than theaccepted practice of searching the intricatetangles and openings, and is advocated as sup-plemental thereto. A properly speaking, is a shallow part rift,-of the stream where the current is quite rapidand more or less broken, and may be from tenyards in length to a mile or more. Where suchwater is spread from bank to bank and is veryshallow, with but slight change in depth, littlesport may be looked for. Random casts maybring a fish or two, but it is difficult to determineclosely the positions in which trout may be;and, even were always possible to deter- if itmine their position, the size of the fish wouldnot induce the angler to waste much effortupon them. A strong rift of fair depth, how-ever, probably harbours as many trout and willprove as productive to the average angler asany half dozen selected pools. The character of these rifts changes so fre-quently that it would be useless to attempt todescribe where trout may be found in them whenthe water is Furthermore, a cast here and high.there is quite as likely to fall within sight ofroving fish that are not averse to travelling some
    • I io THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERdistance to take the fly as a cast placed withintent to cover a particular spot. The mostlikely place, however, along the side of the iscentre of the heaviest current, the fly being soplaced that it will travel at the same speed asthe leader and line, or a trifle faster. When the stream begins to fall, instinct warnsthe trout that he must take up less unstablequarters. He fixes upon a permanent home, andonly moves therefrom when there is another risein the stream or during his nocturnal roamingsin search of food. In early spring, when the stream is high,trout are roaming about and may be foundalmost anywhere. When such conditions pre-vail it is not uncommon to hear anglers saythat most of their fish were taken on the rifts.There are times during this season when it ismore than likely that the rifts will be the onlystretches that prove fruitful. When such isthe case the angler, while he should never over-look the pools, should spend most of his timeon the swift water. On one occasion, while fishing a stream whichempties into the Delaware, near Narrowsburg,N. Y., I walked two miles down-stream tothe stretch which I had chosen for my after-
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH illnoons sport. My first cast was made close totwo oclock, and at six oclock I had taken overtwenty fish, four of which, weighing over fiveand one half pounds, I killed, and twice asmany more of the same size I returned to thestream. got out of the stream about at the Isame spot I had entered it, having fished notover one hundred yards in four hours. The fishwere taken in a broken rift; it seemed as if eachrock in was the hiding-place of a good one; itand, though the current was quite swift, thefloating fly was taken in each case slowly anddeliberately. They were, it is true, not so largeas one might have hoped to get in some of thedeeper pools, but fair fish, nevertheless; and,as about half of them were rainbow trout,interest in the sport did not flag for a mo-ment. In a short rift or run forming the connecting-link between two pools, fish from both will befound occupying it when feeding, occasionallyduring the day, but usually at night, at whichtime miniows and other small fish may bepicked up. Sometimes a good fish will remainin this water, but, because of the facility af-forded him for entering it from above or below,this is not often the case. While this stretch is
    • 112 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERless fruitful than another which I will try to de-scribe, it should never be carelessly fished; and,ifthe instructions given in this chapter for fish-ing the swift are followed, the effort should notgo unrewarded. Many of these short rifts aremet with in a days fishing and too often areslighted by those careless anglers who seem anx-ious only to have their flies upon the surfaceof pools. They should be given careful atten-tion, let conditions be what they may. There are other rifts where the current seemsto be travelling at its greatest speed and wherethe sharp and continuous. Where the de- fall iscline ends abruptly a pool is formed; where itis gradual, and the force of the current is spent,itspreads, fan-like, over the formation of graveland stones, finally flowing to one bank or theother, forming another pool or another rift.The fish occupying these longer rifts or rapidsmay not be the largest in the stream, but arelikely tobe well above the average in size andworth trying for. Along both sides of the swift-est part of the current the fly may be floatedsuccessfully. A long line is inadvisable unlessthe angler has mastered the difficulty of han-dling it under such circumstances, because it isreturned very quickly. He should pick out the
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 113"oily" looking spots upon which to place thefly, because there is less likelihood of its beingdrenched than if it is placed in the breakingwater. Conforming to the custom among manyanglers, and for lack of a better term, I includein the term "rifts" those parts of the streamwhich, in my opinion, are the finest of all placesto fish. I refer to the stretches where greatboulders, and small ones too, protruding abovethe surface of the water, divide the current,which flows quietly but steadily between andaround them. In many cases it will be found that the bankson either side of such stretches, while not pre-cipitous, are higherthan where they border thewider parts of the stream. The bed being nar-rower, the depth of water will be found greater.For these reasons such sections are chosen bytrout when the stream is low. The shady partof this water, if there any, should be beapproached first, particularly if the weather bebright and the water low. Each boulder, inturn, should be carefully and thoroughly searchedwith the fly. The first attempt may be madebetween any two rocks, not too widely sepa-rated, at the bottom or down-stream end of the
    • 114 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERstretch, the fly being placed directly betweenand a foot above them. After several casts havebeen made the fly may be thrown a foot or twofarther up-stream but in line with the previouscasts. Fishing the fly between such boulders servesa double purpose. As the fish lie alongside orjust above them, the fly is readily seen fromeither position, and if it is taken near one ofthem the angler is saved the necessity of fishingthe others, the indications being that the fish areready to feed and that they may be lured awayfrom their stands. On most occasions, however,the fish will be found just above the boulderand on the shady side, and the fly, persistentlydelivered in that position, will attract many ofthem. The angler should remember that the back-water formed by the current flowing against theup-stream side of a boulder is a favourite hauntof brown trout, and should assume that the fishin the stretch occupy such positions until someindication is given that they do not. He shouldso present the fly that the fish is afforded a fairview of it and is not asked to come too far totake it. Rough water should be avoided whenpossible; but the fly should be floated on or near
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 115the swiftest part of the current, and this will usu-ally be found close to the boulder. When the boulders in a stretch are irregularlyscattered, the course of the current being de-flected by them so that the water twists andturns to escape the obstacles in its path, eachone may harbour a good fish. Not one of themshould escape the attention of the angler. Eventhose which appear to be in shallow water areworthy of consideration and sometimes yieldlarge fish. The eddies behind them may befished as much as he pleases, but he should notforget that on the up-stream side the greaternumber of fish will be found. He should avoidhaste, and also the conclusion that because afish is not risen in one spot there is none occu-pying it. If, by carelessness, he drives out afish, his chance of taking one higher up in thesame stretch is jeopardised. Where the current is direct in its flow, travel-ling,apparently, through what might be calleda lane of boulders, the fish, if feeding, may belooked for in middle along its entire course, itsas well as beside and above the rocks. Be-ginning at the bottom, the water for a veryshort distance may be covered from a pointdirectly below; but after that the casts should
    • n6 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERbe made at an angle of about forty-five degreesfrom either side, so that the fish, which may havebeen under the fly and have been unmoved byit, not see the angler or his line. A sight of willthe line moves fish in a way that is very distress-ing to the angler responsible for it. Of similar character are those stretches wherethe rapid current dashes against and aroundthe boulders in them. From a distance one ofthese stretches appears to be a mass of tossingwater, where the dry fly might be expected tobe hopelessly out of place. In such parts ofthe stream the fall is quite sharp, the watertumbling over a succession of diminutive falls,presenting, when viewed from below, an ap-pearance of great turbulence. Upon close in-spection, however, there will be found betweenthe boulders miniature pools, popularly called"pockets," where the current, while strong, isnot direct, a great part of its force being spentin seeking new channels. Beginning at the bottom row of the pockets,the tail of the lowest is cast over with as shorta line as may be used consistently with pre-cision. Where the water glides swiftly over thelipof the pocket the fly should be placed aboveand in such position that in its course down-
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 117stream it will pass close to the boulder which isdeflecting the deeper and stronger part of the cur-rent. As the fly passes the boulder it should beliftedquickly but quietly from the water. A falsecast or two should be made to dry it, and thenitshould be placed in exactly the same positionas before, this procedure being continued untila rise is effected or the angler is prompted toabandon the spot. The fly may then be ad-vanced a short distance at a time, the longi-tudinal position remaining the same, until thewater in a straight line up-stream between theboulder and the head of the pocket is covered.The other side should then be fished in the samemanner, and this without the angler havingchanged his own position, which should havebeen assumed at the start with reference to theavailability of all parts of the water. Each pocket will present practically the samefeatures. The depth may be greater in one, thecurrent stronger in another, but the bouldersat the head and tail should be the objectivepoints for the anglers fly in every case. Wherethe depth great or the current strong, more ispersistence upon the part of the angler is de-manded compensated, as a rule, by a largerfish. Where the water, with but a gentle wrin-
    • n8 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERkle, slips by the boulder and does not breakinto a fall, should be placed a yard above the flyand directly in front of the boulder, and shouldnot be retrieved until it has passed some distancedown-stream. A fish in the dead water mayoften be tempted to come down after the fly, andwhen happens the whole scene is enacted in thisplain view. There is nothing quite so excitingas this in the whole sport of angling except, per-haps, casting to and inducing a fish to rise thatis lying in plain view. Trout frequently take up stations in the back-water or eddy which is formed under and behindthe miniature falls in these rapid stretches.When in this position they are inaccessible tothe dry fly angler. They belong entirely to thewet fly man who is familiar enough with thehabits of the fish to drop his fly above the brinkof the fall, allowing it to be carried over andthen under the water, so that, if it is caught inthe backwater, presented directly to the it isfish, which rarely refuses to take one that comesso easily. When evening comes on, however,the dry fly angler has his opportunity. Thesizable fish which select these retreats duringthe bright days drop down-stream as darknessapproaches, and, if not cruising, will be found
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 119justwhere the current spends itself, or underand below the little eddies to the side. Theseeddies should be scrutinised closely if insectsare upon the water. The presence of the fishwill be indicated by the rise to the flies whichcollect there. Should there be no insects about,the fish may be induced to rise by casting re-peatedly in the quieting water. Perhaps no water on our American streamsappeals more to the average angler than a beau-tiful pool; and yet rarely does this water fulfilthe promise it seems to hold out. That poolsdo contain trout, and sometimes very largeones, is true; but the fact that the fish may re-main unmoved, after every artifice of the anglerhas been exhausted in an attempt to induce themto rise, is very discouraging. This not unusualexperience may be the foundation for the beliefmany anglers have that the larger fish haveceased to be surface feeders and cannot bepersuaded to rise to a small insect. To getone of these big fish with the floating fly theangler must have "luck" that luck whichbrings him upon the stream when the fish arenear the surface. Success on waters of this kinddepends quite as much upon the mood of thefish as upon the skill of the angler.
    • 120 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER If the fish are feeding, or are ready to feed,upon winged insects, they will be found in a posi-tion from which the anglers fly may be seen, inwhich event he may hope to bring them to theartificial. But no amount of skill will induce a the fish are hidden in the strongholds withrise ifwhich these rocky pools abound. It is absurdto expect that a big fish, lying near the bottomof a pool which may have six or eight feet ofwater in it, will come that distance upon thefirstappearance of a tiny morsel of food uponthe surface. A fish that has retired to deepwater is not interested in food; or, if he is, onlycaddis larvae, dobsons, etc., be picked that mayup on the bottom, or some other sort of foodconsiderably under the surface, will attract hisattention. Trout fortunate enough to escape the manydangers which beset them in our streams growto great size and become largely nocturnalfeeders. Night feeding is an instinct of the fish,though the smaller ones are forced by the ap-petite of youth to seek food in daylight, also.This is why a pool that looks as if it shouldcontain a big fish (and probably does) yieldsbut a few dandiprats when the condition of thewater has been unchanged for any length of
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 121time. The big fish are not ravenous enoughto be seeking food all of the time, and the littlechaps have undisputed possession of the openwater. A wonderful change in the mood ofthese large fish takes place when the streamis freshened after a fall of rain. The artificialfly is then taken in the most deliberate and cer-tain manner taken by the fish as if they knewit as a member of a family with which they havebeen acquainted all their lives, although it maynot bear the slightest resemblance to any livinginsect. At such times the angler is apt to losefaith in the much-vaunted wariness and cunningof the fish and may foolishly ascribe his remark-able success to his own skill. Whether thechange of water invigorates trout, or instincttells them that they may expect food to bewashed down to them, it is certain that the de-sire to feed is aroused, and they are at thesetimes neither fastidious nor discriminating. Several years ago on a stream in SullivanCounty, the name of which I have promised toforget, I was in the brook just after the top of aflood and found the fish so willing that, for theparticular day, at any rate, I was ready to believethe story told of some northern waters wherethe fish "were so numerous and so hungry that
    • 122 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERone had to hide behind a tree to bait the hook."Nearly every cast brought a slow, deliberate,businesslike rise all large fish for so small astream. I two fish that weighed one killedpound five ounces, and one pound nine ounces,respectively. One of these fish had two crawfishin its stomach, freshly taken; the other had asmall stone catfish, pretty well digested; therewas nothing else in either not an insect of anysort. The next day was practically a repetitionof the previous one two both just fish killed,over one pound five ounces. The stomach andgullet of one were absolutely empty; the othercontained a single June-bug, freshly taken, and,among a number of other insects, a water-strider, long thought by anglers to form no partof the trouts menu. I have never been ableto quite satisfy myself that this particular ex-perience was of any great value except that itstrengthened my belief that trout are moved tofeed by changes in the stream caused by floodwaters running down. Perhaps, also, it tendedto prove that there were more big fish in thestream than I would have believed without theexperience. All my fish were taken at the lipsof the pools which abound in this rock-beddedstream, and I devoted my time exclusively to
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 123those places, in the hope of securing a reallygood fish. No small fish rose to the fly, althoughthey are a-plenty in the stream. They hadevidently been driven to other water by fear oftheir older brothers. The greatest essential to success in fly fishing,wet or dry, stream knowledge; by which I ismean, not necessarily familiarity with the streamactually being fished, but that general knowl-edge, based on careful study of the habits ofthe that enables the angler to select the fish,proper part of the current in which to placethe fly. Such selection is of the greatest im-portance when pools are being fished it is nextin importance to keeping out of sight of thetrout. Under no circumstances should a poolbe approached with the idea of placing the firstcast in what appears to be the likeliest spot, asthere always danger of frightening the fish isoff if he should happen to be somewhere else inthe pool. Before a placed on the water, a fly iscareful study should be made of its depths andcurrents. If the large fish are surface feeding,they may be looked for in two places par-ticularly: at the very lip of the pool or in theeddies at the head. The indication that a fish is feeding at the lip
    • 124 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERor bottom of a pool is unmistakable. While theactual taking of the insect may be accomplishedquietly, the fish lies sometimes so close to thesurface where the water spills out that thesharp recovery necessary in the quickeningwater reveals his position. This is a difficultfish to take, for the reason that, lying as hedoes in the shallower water which, as a rule,has a smooth surface he very apt to see the isangler. A long line must be used, which addsto the difficulty, as it is almost impossible tokeep the line out of the swift water below thelip which snatches the fly away from the fishbefore he has even had a good look at it. Aproper presentation may be made, however, andthis annoying drag avoided, if the cast is so de-livered that the line falls upon one of the stonesor boulders which form the lip of the pool. Thefly will then without being pulled, float naturally,until it reaches the point where the water spillsout, which point it must be allowed to passbefore being retrieved. If no rise is effectedthe cast may be repeated, and continued as longas the fish is still in position. No connectionneed be looked however, unless the fly is for,placed fairly close to and above the fish, andmarked acceleration of pace avoided. Where
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 125there are no kindly boulders to help the anglerin his deception, a chance though a remoteone be taken by presenting the fly in the mayhope that it may be taken at once, because ofits accurate delivery, and before there is anydrag upon it. If, at the moment of the anglers arrival at apool, there are no insects upon the water therewill be no rise to indicate the position of a fish.But it does not follow that one is not in positionand ready to feed. In this case even greatercare should be exercised in approaching thelip of the pool than if a rise had been actuallyobserved. If the angler does his work well, andhas a sharp eye, the fish may often be seen lyingalong the side of the current as the water spillsout, or just above some small boulder or otherobstruction to the waters course. Sometimesthe boulders be completely under water, maybut their presence is denoted by a wrinkling ofthe surface, and the fish may be looked for justabove them. The angler must work out the problem ofproperly presenting the fly at each pool. Inno case, however, where the fish is seen or hisposition is indicated by his activities shouldthe fly be cast directly over him. It should
    • 126 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERalways be cast to one side or the other, slightlyabove, and at an angle. This suggestion maybe safely followed in every case where fish areseen and it is possible to so cast from the posi-tion occupied by the angler. When the fish arefound to be occupying positions at the tail ofpools whether it be early morning, or just atdusk, or, as it sometimes happens, at middaythey are almost invariably ready to feed; and,while not always interested in insects, they arefrequently induced to take the artificial becauseit appears close to them. Though there mayhave been no indication that the large fish havedropped back from the deeper water to the lipof the pool, the anglers actions should alwaysbe governed by the assumption that they are inthat position until he is convinced that they arenot. If he has been incautious the wideningwake marking the fishs swift dart up-streammakes it quite certain that the hope of takinga trout from that particular pool must be de-ferred. Small fish occupying this "tail posi-tion" are as easily frightened off by sight ofthe angler as the large ones are, and theiralarm, being communicated to the fish above,destroys whatever chance there might other-wise have been on the upper water. It is the
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 127carelessness with which the average angler over-looks this important part of the pool that is re-sponsible for the many failures registered onwhat should be productive water. It frequently happens, particularly when thewater is low and bright and has not been re-cently disturbed, that trout are lying a fewyards above the lip of the pool in the quietwater. The presence of the fish is disclosed bythe wake made by him in his rush for a fly thathas been presented somewhere near him. Thedirection the fish is taking is easily discernible,and, if he is headed down-stream which isoften the case the situation is one that requiresthe gentlest possible handling. The anglershould remain motionless, leaving his fly uponthe water even at the risk of having the linebecome entangled about his feet, because the being headed in the anglers direction, willfish,be quick to detect any motion; and the rodshould not be moved under any consideration.The fish, after having composed himself, willbe headed up-stream again and, if not actuallyseen by the angler, may be assumed to be wherethe wake ended. It is quite usual for a fish, after having madea rush toward the fly, to abandon the chase
    • 128 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERwhen the approaches too closely to the spill, flyto assume a position where he stopped* and towait there for another insect to come down.This the anglers opportunity; but if it is isto be of any advantage to him deliberationmust mark every action. The fly must hisbe dropped gently over the marked spot andshould not be retrieved until it has passed be-low the rod. It will be difficult to overcomethe impulse to retrieve the fly, even though itis getting farther beyond control all the time;but, as the fish has possibly been interested initand, having turned, will immediately detectany action of the rod and be off at once, suchimpulse must be resisted. By stripping theline in with the disengaged hand, the fly may berecovered and presented again. Until the fly istaken by the fish, or until the angler is con-vinced that it not be taken, every motion willshould be very deliberate. If the fish is notrisen on the first cast, each succeeding throwshould be made a little farther up-stream thanthe previous one, until the point where the fishwas first seen is reached. The fly should not beretrieved in any case until has passed over itthe water covered before and it should travelin the same lane after each cast. A fish spotted
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 129as described will surely fall to the rod if theangler is careful, and his taking will afford someof the most pleasurable moments spent upon thestream. When the angler decides to abandon the lowerend of the pool, it is much wiser for him to usea longer line to reach the upper water than itis to advance up-stream, because by wading uphe may frighten a fish lying in the part of thepool already covered and thus warn off theones above. The entire pool should be care-fully scanned for indications of feeding fishbefore any attempt is made to cast over theupper part of it. The eddies on either side ofthe main current at the head of the pool shouldbe given particular attention. Should a largefish inhabit the pool the eddy will be hisdining-room. He will it, however, only occupyat certain intervals, and, the angler should ifbe fortunate enough to arrive at a time whenhe is seeking food, it ought to yield a finetrout. Rarely meeting competition because oftheir size, the fish in these eddies are very de-liberate in their feeding securing such insectsas may be on the surface with but little effort.For this reason opportunities are missed manyby the unobservant angler who fails to notice
    • 130 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERthe gentle wrinkling of the surface, or the smallbubble left upon it, as the fish sucks in sometiny insect, and by the careless angler who seesthe slight disturbance, and attributes it to asmall fish. Some of the largest fish I have everkilled gave no indication of their size as the flywas taken, and not until they had fastened did Irealise how heavy they were. The slightest in-dication of action in the eddy should be inves-tigated thoroughly with the fly; for, while onlya small fish may be taken in one, the next mayproduce "the big fish." Throwing to a fish in the eddy of a pool re-quires some care, but a close study of the cur-rents will make it comparatively easy. Troutalways lie with heads to the current, and thosein an eddy are no exception; consequently, theywill be headed down-stream, or against the cur-rent, which is flowing up. This position of thefish must be taken into consideration when thefly to be presented from below, and the isangler will find that his greatest difficulty willbe in keeping out of sight. How he may dothis he must decide for himself, but, even atthe risk of being seen, he should cast up-streamfrom directly below the fish; i. e., from a positionon the same side of the swift current as the eddy
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 131he is fishing. If the fly is dropped in that partof the current which turning up-stream it iswill be carried to the fish in a natural manner,and if care has been taken in placing the lineloosely in the comparatively dead water below,the progress of the fly will not be impeded. Ifthe fish has been well spotted, the fly should bedropped a foot or two below him, and alwaysin that current which will bring it directly tohim. In this particular situation the first castshould be the telling one, because if the fly isnot taken not returned to the angler im- it ismediately, and its retrieve against the currentis likely to be disturbing to the fish. If the flyhas been carried over and beyond the spotwhere the rise was seen, it does not follow thatithas passed over the fish and been refused.He may be backing up under it, and may takeit a yard from where he is presumed to be, if ittravel that far. However, if satisfied that thefly isnot going to appeal to the fish which con-clusion should not be reached until the fly is nolonger in a natural position the retrieve maybe made very slowly and carefully, after whichthe angler may wait a minute or two, or untilthe fish rises again. Sometimes the fly will be carried by the eddy
    • 132 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERtoward the swift, down-stream current and becaught in it. In this event, it is easily retrievedwithout disturbing the water in the vicinity ofthe fish, and may be presented again immediately.A fish should not be given up while continuingto rise steadily; he will become accustomed to theartificial, and will take it in time, if its action isnot unnatural. An eddy should be fished in thesame careful manner whether a fish is seen feed-ing in it or not; but, in the latter case, while afish be in position and ready to feed, the mayvarying currents and the difficulty encounteredin attempting to retrieve the fly delicatelyagainst them destroy its natural action, andprevent, to a certain extent, proper simulationof a "hatch." The fly can cover but a shortdistance before necessary to retrieve it, and it isthis makes for rather tedious work, because itmust be brought back slowly and gently untilit is out of the eddy before it is taken from thewater. In this connection, it may be borne inmind that it is possible to decoy a fish from theeddy by placing the fly on the edge of the swift,down-stream current nearest the eddy, permit-ting it to float down three or four yards eachtime. If a half dozen casts have brought no re-sponse, it is better to discontinue casting than
    • WHERE AND WHEN TO FISH 133to risk driving the fish to another part of thepool, and thus disturb some other fish that mighthave fallen to the rod later had it remainedunmolested.
    • CHAPTER V THE IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT WITHIN a very recent period, it has been as-serted, upon scientific authority, that fish arecolour-blind. be true, though it If this is diffi-cult for the mere angler to understand how itmay be proven, the theory of those who believethat it necessary to imitate in the artificial isfly the colour of the insects upon which troutfeed must be abandoned. Writing upon the subject no longer ago than1904, Sir Herbert Maxwell, certainly a compe-tent observer, said: "My own experience goesto convince me that salmon, and even highlyeducated chalk-stream trout, are singularly in-different to the colours of flies offered to them,taking a scarlet or blue fly as readily as oneclosely assimilated to the natural insect. Prob-ably the position of the floating lure, betweenthe fishs eye and the light, interferes with anynice discrimination of hue from reflected rays." Cotton and the many angling writers who fol-lowed him all dwelt with insistence upon the ne- 134
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 135cessity for close imitation, especially in relation tocolour. In 1740 John Williamson stated the prin-ciple in the following words: ". . as the great .Difficulty is to obtain the Colour of the Fly whichthe Fish take at the Instant of your Angling, it isimpossible to give any certain Directions on thatHead; because several Rivers and Soils arehaunted by peculiar Sorts of Flies, and the Fliesthat come usually in such a Month of the Year,may the succeeding Year come almost a Monthsooner or later as the Season proves colder or hot-ter. Tho some Fish change their Fly once ortwice in one Day, yet usually they seek not for an-other Sort, till they have for some Days gluttedthemselves with a former, which is commonlywhen those Flies are near Death, or ready to goout." Then, giving some simple instructionsin regard to tying flies, he quotes Walton:" But to see a Fly made by an Artist is the bestInstruction; after which the Angler may walkby the River, and mark what Flies fall on theWater that Day, and catch one of them, if hesee the Trouts leap at a Fly of that Kind. ..."Williamsons book was practically a compila-tion, containing the best of what had been writ-ten by anglers before him, together with his ownobservations.
    • 136 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER From Williamsons time no work on fly fish-ing seemed complete unless instructions weregiven in the art of fly making, with a descriptionof the sorts and colours of furs, silks, feathers,etc., suitable for the imitation of the naturalinsects held to be so necessary; but until theappearance in 1836 of Ronaldss "Fly FishersEntomology," it cannot be said of any authorthat the instructions given by him were the re-sult of scientific study. Ronalds was mostthorough in his investigation, and his experi-ments in regard to the senses of taste and hear-ing of trout are extremely interesting and in-structive. While his conclusions run counter tothe opinions of other angling writers, to manymy mind they appear logical and are con-vincing; and I think he proves that trout donot have the senses of taste and hearing de-veloped to the degree of acuteness attributed tothem by other writers. Following some adviceas to the choice of flies, Ronalds says: "It shouldnever be forgotten that, let the state of weatheror the water be what may, success in fly itfishing very much depends upon showing thefish a good imitation, both in colour and size,of that insect which he has recently taken; anexact resemblance of the shape does not seem to
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 137be quite as essential a requisite as that of colour,since the former varies according to the positionof the insect either in or upon the water; buta small fly is usually employed when the water isfine, because the fish is then better enabled todetect an imitation and because the small flyis more easily imitated. The resemblance ofeach particular colour, etc., is not required tobe so exact as in the case of a large fly." Not-withstanding his evident preference for colourover shape or form, Ronalds was careful tohave the proportions of his imitations exact.The many work that have been editions of hisissued, and the frequent reference made to himby later writers, is evidence that his opinions areheld in high regard by anglers. About three years before the "Fly FishersEntomology" appeared, Professor James Ren-nie, in his "Alphabet of Scientific Angling,"ridiculed the theory of imitation. He says: "Itis still more common, however, for anglers touse artificial baits, made in imitation or pre-tended imitation, of those that are natural. I * have used the phrase pretended imitation asstrictly applicable to by far the greater numberof what are called by anglers artificial flies,because these rarely indeed bear the most dis-
    • 138 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERtant resemblance to any living fly or insect what-ever, though, if exact imitation were an object,there can be little doubt that it could be ac-complished much more perfectly than is everdone in any of the numerous artificial fliesmade by the best artists in that line of work.The fish, indeed, appear to seize an artificial flybecause, when drawn by the angler along thewater, it has the appearance of being a livinginsect, whose species is quite unimportant, as allinsects are equally welcome, though the largerthey are, as in the case of grasshoppers, so muchthe better, because they then furnish a bettermouthful. The aim of the angler, accordingly,ought to be to have his artificial fly calculated,by its form and colours, to attract the notice ofthe which case he has a much greater fish, inchance of success than by making the greatestefforts to imitate any particular species of fly."That this statement caused considerable dis-cussion probably because it was made by aprofessor of zoology is evidenced by the ap-pearance in 1838 of "A True Treatise of the Artof Fly-Fishing," written by those strong advo-cates of the imitation theory, William Shipleyand Edward Fitzgibbon, who devoted a wholechapter to controverting the professors theories,
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 139callingupon the writings of Bainbridge, Best,Taylor, Davy, Ronalds, and others in supportof their opinions, concluding with the state-ment that "they flattered themselves that theyhad triumphantly done so." It seems to methat, though they argued with vigour andvehemence, they have proven nothing, conclu-sively, except their ability to place a constructionupon the professors statements that affordedthem an opportunity for the discussion. A care-fulreading of Rennie shows that he merely ex-pressed the opinion that the greatest efforts ofthe angler should be to make his fly one thatwould attract the notice of the fish by its formand colour, rather than to imitate any particularspecies of fly. To be sure, we have no knowledgeof what his ideas with regard to form and colourwere; we may assume, however, that he believedthat if a red fly four inches long with yellow andblue wings and a green tail would attract the fish,such would be the fly to use. The illustration isabsurd, of course; but we have a right to inferthat his belief was that any form or colour whichwould attract the fish would do. He advancedthe theory that the trout took the artificial be-cause they were near-sighted; apparently hedid not believe that they took it because theywere colour-blind.
    • 140 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER The English creation known as the "Alex-andra," representing absolutely nothing in in-sect life (at least to eye of man), strongly sup-ports Professor Rennies theory. Its effect upontrout has been so deadly that has been sug- itgested by many English anglers that its useshould be barred upon some streams. In thesame class with the Alexandra might be placedour own American nondescript, the "Parma-cheene Belle," the invention of Mr. Henry P.Wells, whose theory was, "An imitation of somefavourite food is in itself sufficient under all cir-cumstances, provided it is so conspicuous asreadily to be seen . . . and the fly in questionwas made, imitating the colour of the belly finof the trout itself." This theory may be soundenough, but in this particular application of itone is asked to believe that the trout is inor-dinately fond of the belly fin of its relatives,which seems to me to be straining credulityoverfar. To some old cannibalistic fish thesefins may be attractive. I do not deny it, for Ido not know; but in my own experience I havenot known them to be plucked or bitten fromthe victim; nor are they found floating aboutloosely. The Parmacheene Belle is undoubtedlyan imitation of the belly fin of a trout, but it is
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 141not an imitation of any favourite food of thefish. Its value as a lure is well known to thosewho fish in the lakes and streams of Canada andMaine, but trout do not take because they itrecognise it as a familiar article of diet. Theyprobably take it because of its brilliant colour,in which respect it embodies Professor Renniesidea of what a "fly" should be. Being made upof reds and whites, it probably reflects morelight than do sombre-hued patterns and, conse-quently, is the more easily seen. As a rule, itis taken under water, and most often after ithas sunk to considerable depth. Speaking of the Alexandra, Mr. Halford says:"It certainly is not the imitation of any in-digenous insect known to entomologists; pos-sibly the bright silver body moving through theriver gives some idea of the gleam of a minnow.Long ere this its use should have been prohib-ited on every stream frequented by the bona-fide fly-fisherman, as it a dreadful scourge isto any water, scratching and frightening an im-mense proportion.of the trout which are temptedto follow it." If this means anything, it meansthat trout are at first attracted by the fly orlure, but upon closer inspection discover thecheat, and, taking it uncertainly, are often
    • 142 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERslightly pricked, or, refusing it entirely, aresometimes scraped by the hook as they turnaway. This criticism, it seems to me, might bedirected equally well against any creation offeathers, fur, and tinsel that is fished sunk. While rather the main point, I may be so offbold as to say that, while the sunk fly methoddoes not appeal to me at all, I cannot readily seethat it scratches many fish or frightens themin any way; and, if it did, the recollection of theaffair would not linger long enough in the troutsmemory to injure the chances of his being takenthe next day on a dry fly, or even on anothersunk one. Mr. G. E. M. Skues, who advocatesthe use of the sunk fly on the same streamswhere correct imitations are presented to risingfish, says that he presents imitations of thenymphae in the positions occupied by the nat- he rarely scratches a fish, and hooksurals; thatbut very few foul. The inference in this casemight be that the trout fastens to an imitationmore readily than to an Alexandra one reallydeluding the fish by its natural appearance, theother exciting only its curiosity or ire. While exhibiting an admirable filial loyalty,many of us have been prone to be governedby tradition, and the education we received in
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 143the beginning from our fathers. With few ex-ceptions, we have trudged along the beatenpath, looking rarely to right or left, but back-ward a great deal, using the same flies ourfathers used before us, emulating their methods,and admiring their successes. We have over-looked the fact that we are contending withconditions that have decreased the number ofnative trout, and that would have taxed eventhe great skill with which we have endowedthose of loving memory. I remember that oneof my fathers favourite flies was the Queen-of-the-Waters. Naturally it became one of mine,and I used it religiously remembering its suc-cesses, forgetting its failures. A story connectedwith this flyprove interesting, and perhaps maytend to show how close I was to becoming aconfirmed colourist, or, rather, a strong believerin the trouts ability to detect colour. Manyyears ago, while preparing for a shorttrip to the stream, I discovered that I did nothave a single Queen-of-the-Waters in my flybook. On my way to the railroad station Istopped in a tackle shop and asked for a dozenof that pattern. The clerk was unable to findany in stock,but suggested that I try a dozencalled King-of-the- Waters. Although there was,
    • 144 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERin fact, little similarity between these two pat-terns except in the name itself, this seemedsufficient to my ignorant mind, and I took them.The following day, upon the stream, my cast ofthree flies (I was a wet fly angler then) wasnever without a King-of-the- Waters and not afish did I take with it. I attributed my non-success to the pattern of fly, and it never oc-curred to me at the time that very few fish weretaken at that day, although many anglers allwere on the stream. The next morning, when Iopened my fly book, I found that a great dealof the red dye used upon the silk body of thefly had come off on the drying pad. The bodyof the fly was now a beautiful pink. Out ofcuriosity I wet the fly, and the pink bodyturned a brilliant red. I thought the thingover, and decided that I had stumbled upon anexplanation of the failure of the fly to take theday before. The body of the fly originally wasred and was evidently meant to appear so tothe trout. When wet, however, it had turned amuddy brown. With most of the colour washedout, the fly turned a darker shade when wet,became really red, and stayed red. deter- Imined that if this was the colour the troutwanted, they should have it, and I soaked a half
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 145dozen flies tumbler of water, pressing and in asqueezing every bit of dyestuff out of them thatI could. They were all pink-bodied when I hadfinished with them. Recollections of the fol-lowing day are still fresh in my mind. The fishseemed frantic to get my fly. I used one asthe stretcher, and it was taken almost to theutter exclusion of the other patterns above. Iremember upon a boulder in that, while sittingmidstream tying another pink fly on in place ofthe hand dropper, as an experiment, I lost it inthe swift current, and felt almost as badly asif I had lost a friend. The fly used as a dropperwas taken readily, but not so often as whenused as a stretcher, yet often enough to make mefeel that I had made a great discovery. Sincethen, however, I have often wondered if itreally were a discovery, or if, indeed, the oldQueen-of-the-Waters, under the circumstancesand conditions prevailing at the time, would nothave been just as killing, and probably just asgreat a failure the preceding day. Many years have passed, and I am still usingthe pink-bodied fly, modified in form, however,but never the Queen-of-the-Waters. I cannotsay that I think it takes any better than theWhirling Dun or the Pale Evening Dun, which
    • 146 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERare among my favourites. Frequently, when Ihave found the pink-bodied fly taking well, Ihave changed immediately to one of the others,and have found no marked difference in theirtaking qualities. The pink-bodied fly in itspresent form that is, tied in accordance withmy own has upright wings and a tail, practiceand in appearance is not unlike the Red Spinner.It has been dubbed the "Pink Lady" by one ofmy friends, a name that it seems destined tocarry, as has already appeared by that name itin a tackle dealers catalogue. As to whetheror not the trout is attracted by the brilliancyof the body, or by the rib of gold tinsel thatgives it a fillip other flies lack, or because itbears a fairly close resemblance to the RedSpinner, I cannot venture an opinion. That itis a taking fly, however, I have demonstratedmany times upon the stream. I am inclined tobelieve that its typical form, rather than itscolour, appeals to the fish. Opposed to my opin-ion,however, is that of many of my friends whouse it, one of whom, in particular, contendingthat the pink-bodied fly will take fish any-where at any time. He firmly believes that itscolour constitutes its charm. It is an interest-ing fact, considered in this connection, that the
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 147gentleman himself is, to some extent, colour-blind. Objects floating upon the surface of a shallowstream reflect the colour of the bottom in vary-ing degree, according to their density. number Aof white objects floating above a moss or grasscovered bottom reflect different tones of green,that one which is most opaque showing thedarkest shade, and each one reflecting a lightertone in proportion to the amount of light thatfilters through it. It is true, of course, that ayellow insect floating over this same bottomwould reflect a shade of green all its own, andit is but natural to assume that if the same shadeor tint of yellow is used in the artificial, its em-ployment would more nearly approximate theeffect of reflection upon the natural insect; butif the exact shade or tint important, the iseffect is not produced unless the same amountof light passes through both natural and arti-ficial. The use of the hook itself precludes thepossibility of any delicate imitation of nature,and the infinite pains anglers have taken tomake representations of the segmentations ofmany of the Ephemeridce by using quill windingsfor the body would seem to be for naught,except in so far as they affect the artistic eye
    • 148 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERof those using them. Many such flies undoubt-edly take fish, but dare say not because Ithey represent particularly the colour of thenatural. It would seem, therefore, that the most im-portant consideration of the fly-tier who seeksto imitate the colour of the natural insect shouldbe the materials to be used. Consequently heshould select only those which are transparent,or at least translucent, and that reflect the sur-roundings as readily as the natural insect does asit floats down-stream on the surface of the water.It is, of course, quite obvious that the artificial,no matter how cleverly it may be fashioned,cannot present the same appearance of trans-lucence as the natural; but one skilfully madeof the appropriate materials will approximateit nearly enough for all practical purposes. Ibelieve that the effect produced by reflection ofthe colour of the bottom is not so marked uponan insect resting with its legs upon the surfaceand its body above it, as it is upon the insectwith its body directly on the surface. If theartificialcould always be cast so that it restedonly upon its hackle, perhaps the difference be-tween it and the natural would not be so marked.This may be accomplished, perhaps, by those
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 149anglers who are wedded to fishing the rise, andwho keep their fly absolutely dry until a fish isseen feeding, but it is asking too much of thosewho enjoy seeing their fly upon the water overlikely places. Although, in certain species of insects whichinterest anglers, the difference in size and colourbetween the sexes is not great, in others it isquite marked; and some anglers are of theopinion that an imitation of the female of aspecies ismore killing pattern than one of the amale. A most ingenious explanation of the fishspreference for the female insect was offered bythe Reverend J. G. Wood in his "Insects atHome," published in 1871. He says: "Shouldthe reader be an angler, he will recognise in thefemale pseudimago the Green Drake/ and inthe perfect insect the Grey Drake. The angleronly cares for the female insects, because the them, laden as they are with eggs, tofish preferthe males, which have little in them but air."The statement endows the trout with certainlya fine sense of discrimination and taste. Thatthe female insects are preferred by the troutmay possibly be true, but it is to be regrettedthat the author did not explain how he arrived atthe conclusion that they are preferred because
    • ISO THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERthey carry eggs. If he was an angler himself, itwas probably the result of personal experiencein the use of either the insect or its imitation;or autopsies upon fish may have revealed thefact. In the latter case, the discovery of a pre-ponderating number of females in the stomachof the fish would naturally influence his opinion;but even this discovery could hardly be said toprove that the trout had a preference for thefemale because it was "laden with eggs." Ifour author did not fish for trout, his knowledgemay have been based either upon informationobtained from some angler or upon his own ob-servation of feeding fish; in the latter case, beingmore of an entomologist than an angler, it isnot unreasonable to suppose that his interestwas centred upon the insect, and not upon thefish. Having seen a number of females takenin succession probably at a time when theywere predominant the fact would indicate tohis scientific mind a preference for the sex on thepart of the fish. If the fish does in fact prefer the female, theexplanation may be found in the life history ofthe May-fly, which indicates that the male, sometime after the sexual function is performed, fallslifeless, while the female, shortly after intercourse,
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 151hovers over the water, and, touching the surfacewith that part of her body carrying the nowfertile eggs, deposits them as nature has decreed.It is this action, made in a succession of dips,the insect finally resting upon the water, whichpresents that appearance of life so attractive tofeeding fish, trout naturally ignoring a dead insectwhen their attention is attracted to a flutteringone. If trout never took the male nothing insect,would be gained by imitating it; but they dothough when they do, it is generally becausethere are no interfering females about; or, tobe more gallant, when the more attractive sexis not strongly in evidence. It naturally sug-gests itself to the angler that when the femalesof any species are predominant upon the water, advantageous to present a close imitationit isof them in colour and size the form of thesexes being similar. It seems to me that the colourist, as a rule, ismuch too certain that his flies appear to thetrout as they do to his own sense of sight;surely, there is no way of demonstrating or es-tablishing what the truth may be. Certain itis that up to the present time, it has not beenpossible to fashion an artificial fly that wouldgive even a faint semblance of the translucence
    • 152 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERof the natural insect; and this, it seems tome, a very important consideration. Using ismaterials available, it is quite impossible toduplicate this delicate appearance of the liveinsect, and my own conclusion is that materialswhich will most nearly represent by permit- itting a filtering of light are the ones to be em-ployed preferably materials of quiet tone andcolour. I am of the opinion, also, that the colour, orperhaps the transparency, of the wings of theartificial fly is quite as important as the colourof the body; and I am satisfied, so far as myown angling is concerned, that erect-winged all should be tied with wings made of feathersfliesfrom the starlings wing, or flues from the in-side wing feather of the mallard or blackduck. For, while trout may not be able todistinguish quite so readily the colour of thewings out of the water as the body of the flyon the water, the natural appearance of thewings prevent them from scrutinising the maybody too closely, and thus discovering discrep-ancies in its colouring; and, while wings oflight silvery grey may not appear so to thefish, to my eye they produce a close resem-blance to the transparent, gauzy wing common
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 153to all of the Ephemeridce, in both the dun andperfect states. I have a decided preference for winged flies,but that because they look more like liv- ising insects to me when they are on the waterthan do hackled flies, and not because I thinkthey appear more natural or lifelike to the fish.In practice I have found that hackled fliesare taken quite as readily floating as ever theywere when I fished them under water, andit very well be that the hackle fibres maystanding out from and around the body onand above the surface of the water are evena better imitation of the wings of the Ephe-meridcz than are the feathers of the wingedvariety. Certainly a greater amount of lightpasses through them, and the result may be abetter representation of the transparency andneuration of the wings of the natural insect thancan be had from the use of artificial wings. Atany rate, hackled flies float admirably, and thefish take them freely. And, although the dryfly anglers who use them may feel that some-thing of form and appearance has been sacrificedto utility, their aesthetic sense will probablysurvive the shock when they find themselvessuccessful even those who insist that their fly
    • 154 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERbe always beautifully cocked. If it is a consid-eration to be reckoned with, a hackled fly willoutlast a dozen winged ones, being easily driedand humoured back into shape; while, on theother hand, a winged fly is almost hopelesslyruined when taken by a fish. In my own fish-ing I use a new fly over each fish an extrava-gant habit, perhaps but I love to see a naturallooking artificial floating on the water. An old,mussed-up fly may continue to take fish as didthe one fly we all have recollections of, thattook fish until it was worn to a ravelling, andno other would do; nevertheless, the use of afresh fly is good insurance against defeat, and,aside from its extravagance, the practice is rec-ommended. If the angler is to fish with a floating fly, thenecessity of some imitation of colour and formis quite evident, but imitation need not be car-ried to the extent of copying minute variationof colour in slavish detail. To copy the formof the natural fly is, of course, practically im-possible. The quantity of hackle used on the to represent the legs of the naturalartificial(which number six at most) could hardly belessened, so great is its aid in floating the fly.Mr. Halford recommends tying the tail of the
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 155artificial in four whisks so as to increase itsbuoyancy, even though the setae of the naturalnumber but two in most cases never more thanthree. The use of these parts in slightly exagger-ated form does not denote a contempt for thekeenness of the fishs vision on the part of theangler employing them. Rather, they are anecessary evil, and, after all, show a divergencein form in no way so marked as that occasionedby the hook. If approximately exact imitation of form ofthe dun or subimago of the Ephemeridce is at-tempted, the wings of the artificial should betied so as to stand close together and directlyupright over the body. But a deviation fromthis form to the extent of having the wingsseparated will enable the angler to present theflycocked more frequently, to drop it lightly,and will work but little harm. In my own fishing I am willing to risk anydefeat which a slight variance in colour may in-vite, if the fly will float erect and in the place Iwish it to. While delicacy inhandling the linewill place the fly upright more often than not,"cocking" the fly is unfortunately not under di-rect control of the angler. a very "Cocking" isimportant part of the imitation of the natural
    • 156 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERinsect that imitation described as "position" but it is not so essential as the accurate anddelicate placing of the fly, which last dependsentirely upon the skill of the angler. Perhaps"position" is best described by saying that itincludes both "attitude" and "plane." The plane in which the fly is to travel mustbe selected by the angler, and a combination ofthe judgment which prompts this selection, andthe skill which maintains the plane during agreat number of casts, will contribute more tosuccess than the presentation of any part cular ;pattern of fly. As a matter of fact, it is per-haps the only form of imitation which approxi-mates nature a fly sitting upon the water, be-ing carried down-stream in the same current,and as unhampered and unrestrained in itsaction as a natural insect. Reliance upon cer-tain patterns purporting to represent certaininsects is never so strong again with the anglerwho, by his own produces an imitation in skill,this way that deludes a good fish. The govern-ing consideration in the practice of this theoryof imitationthe selection of the proper current isin which to place the fly, and the angler,being guided naturally by his knowledge ofthe habits of the fish, should make a close
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 157study of the trend of the stream currentsparticularly of those upon its surface beforebeginning operations. Whether or not the flyis to be placed an inch from the bank, or a footor two away, should depend entirely upon thisobservation, plane being always the importantconsideration. The surface currents carry down numbersof insects, both dead and alive, and the edgeof that one which is carrying most drift andis travelling slowest should be chosen by theangler the delivery of the artificial al- forways with regard to the avoidance of drag.If there are no insects about or upon the sur-face of the water, small drift stuff, leaves,twigs, and the like will be carried down inthe same plane, and under this surface driftthe fish will probably be lying. He is inter-ested in things upon the surface, and it is theanglers business to know it, and to so presentthe fly that it will come down as naturally asan unhampered insect. It seems hardly necessary to state that itwill be found well-nigh not quite impossible to ifimitate the fluttering of a fly over or upon thewater, by means of the rod. Yet many of us,when wet fly fishing, have deluded ourselves
    • 158 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERinto the belief that, by the use of a dropper-flyand its careful manipulation, we were simulat-ing, to a certain degree, the fluttering of thenatural insect. At any rate, when the fly wastaken we flattered ourselves that this was thecase. Yet frequently, with the anglers atten-tion centred upon giving to the dropper-fly aproper motion, the submerged tail-fly was taken,and usually by the larger fish. Instead of weak-ening ones faith in the dropper-fly and theefficacy of its jerky motion, experiences such asthese have been known to strengthen a belief inthe method; and I have heard the idea expressedthat the action of the dropper-fly on the surfacehad attracted the attention of the fish to thetail-fly. This may be true, but, as a matter offact, the sunk fly was the better imitation oflife, which perhaps accounts for the fishs pref-erence for it. Those who practised fly fishing in the man-ner described paid regard to imitation of littlecolour, and perhaps less to imitation of form; acomparison of the ordinary tackle-shop wet flywith the natural insect will convince any doubt-ing angler that this is so. When they did at-tempt to imitate the colour of the natural fly,they were accustomed to give little or no thought
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 159to colour changes likely to take place upon im-mersion, with the result that in many caseswhere was used upon the body of the fly, silkthese changes were great enough to destroyalmost at once any resemblance to nature theartificial might have had before it was wet.I sometimes find myself believing that theseanglers, when they considered colour at all,considered it only in relation to its effect upontheir own eyes, and without any regard to thefishs view of it perhaps not entirely withoutreason. True, the changes in, or loss of, colourwere offset to a considerable extent by themotion, more or less rapid, imparted to the fly,which prevented close scrutiny by the trout,and detection of the fraud. My own notionisthat as the fly had to be taken quickly bythe fish, if at all, it was taken because it wasmoving and might be food of some sort and notbecause it looked like or was an imitation of anyparticular insect. There are a great many expert anglers inAmerica who fish with accurate or close imi-tations of the natural insect, wet or sunk, andwho, by virtue of their skill in throwing the flyand their knowledge of the haunts and habitsof the trout, are enabled to basket fish of fine
    • 160 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERquality and size fish that would be creditableto the anglers skill under almost any circum-stance of capture. I hazard the opinion, how-ever, that they derive less real sport from theirmethod than does the angler who fishes with asingle dry and floating fly, imparts no motionto it, and presents an imitation of a naturalinsect which the trout is at liberty to inspectand, if his suspicion is aroused by the transpar-ency of the fraud or because of some mistake indelivery, to reject. The dry fly angler mustknow quite as much of the haunts and habitsof the fish as the wet fly angler and, to cast hisfly successfully, must have the greater skill.Above the dry fly method is the more fas- all,cinating, because the angler actually sees therise and the taking of the fly, the sense of sightas well as the sense of touch conducing to hispleasurable emotion. His imagination and allardent anglers have imagination will immedi-ately come into play, and he will find himselfconvinced that the imitation has really deceivedthe fish into believing that a living insect layupon the water. venture to suggest the fancy that the taking Iof a trout with a nondescript fly of blue or red the Parmacheene Belle, the Jenny Lind, or
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 161what-not even though it may have been pre-sented accurately, superbly cocked and lightlyfloating, can never produce in the anglers mindthe feeling of satisfaction that attends him whenhe captures a fine fish with a fair imitation upon the water at the time,of the natural flyor with one whichmay be assumed to representin colour and form a natural fly of a specieswhich might be expected to be about at theseason. True, I may seem to be stretching thepoint too finely, but I have expressed the fancyto some of my friends, who, after hearing me,were good enough to say, as indeed I hoped theywould, "Why, the trout that took the gaudyfly was a fool fish that would have taken any-thing." They seemed to believe, as I do, thatthe angler who captures a "fool" fish attainsto no honour; that "fool" fish are not the sortof fish one should covet. The fancy may bestrongly characterised by many as eccentric, Iknow, but I am sure that it embodies the prin-ciple and spirit of true sportsmanship. The theory of imitation not be justly mayattacked or lightly set aside because of the factthat nondescript flies frequently take fish,sometimes after fair imitations have been re-fused. My own belief is that when the highly
    • 162 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERcoloured nondescript is taken, success should beascribed to the great of the angler and his skillparticularly clean presentation of the fly, or tothe fact that the fly was "popped" over and soclose to a. fish that it was seized because of itsproximity. The taking two of trout with either of thosefamous flies, the Gold-Ribbed Hares Ear orthe Wickhams Fancy, after fish have refusedclose imitations of the insects upon whichthey were feeding, might also be urged as anargument against the imitation theory, thoughagainst the colour part of it only, as those twopatterns, while imitations, perhaps, of no indi-vidual insects, do bear a general resemblance tomany, and may be said to be typical in form.It quite possible that the bright tinsel body isof the Wickhams Fancy, and the rib of goldwire or tinsel of the Hares Ear, represent to thetrout that beautiful, iridescent colouring plainlyvisible upon the body of many natural insects.It is also quite possible that the flashing ofthe tinsel, opaque though it is, produces thatquality of translucence so apparent in the nat-ural insect. that a counterpart in colour and The theoryform of the natural food of the trout is more
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 163likely to prove effective than a nondescript, islogical, beyond question, not only because theimitation is likely to delude the fish, but alsobecause of the appeal it makes to the anglersown sense of fitness; for it is more than likelythat the angler, knowing his imitation to be acorrect one, will feel a confidence that will en-able him to make a cleaner presentation of it,and to simulate more closely the great essentials action and position. And yet within the ex-perience of every angler there have been timeswhen the very closest imitation of the insectupon which the trout were presumably feeding,presented in the l>est possible manner, hasfailed to excite any interest on the part of thefish, and when an artificial in no way resem-bling the natural in colour took trout quite aswell as the closest imitation. On such occasionsthe faith of the advocate of close imitationprobably received a rude shock. Although considered out of fashion amongfly fishermen of, the present day, one occasion-ally meets an angler who still adheres to whatis known as the "routine" system. The advo-cates of this system believe in the necessity ofpresenting to the fish a certain series of artificialflies in February, another series in March, and
    • 164 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERcontinuing a different series for each month ofthe season. The theory is based, of course,upon the imitation of those insectswhich pre-vail in the particular months. "Routine" an-glers of the past probably had opinions asfirmly fixed as those of anglers of to-day, andit is very likely that there were a few who per-sistently clung to the prescribed flies for May,when fishing that month, and used no othersfish or no fish. Whatever effect the colour of the artificial flymay have upon trout, and however necessarythe proper shade may be felt to be when cast-ing to fish that are feeding upon some particularspecies of insect, quite certain that the it isangler cannot rely upon this form of imitationalone to take fish. In fishing with the floatingfly the imitation of the form of the natural in-sect, in my opinion, is quite as essential as thatof its and frequently size will be found colour,to be even more important than either. Myown experiences have convinced me that imita-tion of the natural insect is absolutely neces-sary, put the forms this should take and Iin the following order the order of their im-portance: ist Position of the fly upon the water.
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 165 2nd Its action. 3rd Size of the fly. 4th Form of the fly. 5th Colour of the fly. The degrees of importance which separateform, size, and colour may not be widely marked,and, while an exact imitation of the colour, size,and form of the insect which the trout are tak-ing is undoubtedly the ideal combination, Ibelieve that if failure results from any variationfrom this combination, colour is least respon-sible for cannot go so far as to say that it. Itrout are entirely colour-blind, or that a cor-rectly sized and shaped artificial dressed in bluewould kill a fish that was taking a natural yel-low dun, but I do believe that even a great di-vergence in the shade of colour of the artificialtied in imitation of the natural insect wouldmake no material difference to the fish, if it wereproperly presented. In fact, it is my opinionthat the artificial need not be yellow at all;that a fly of subdued colour a Whirling Dun, aSilver Sedge, a Pink Lady, or any fly of similarconformation will be accepted by the fish feed-ing upon a little yellow may if its presentationis clean. We have all had experience with certain fish,
    • i66 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERor, perhaps, with many fish, on certain dayswhen, although they appeared to be feeding, itseemed next to impossible to induce a rise.Such failures are invariably ascribed to lack ofproper imitation usually, colour. Sometimesthe angler, if he be an expert fly-tier, sets aboutfashioning a fly which resembles the insect someparticular fish is taking, and, presenting it eitherat that time or the next day, is delighted to findit taken readily. He is immediately a strongadvocate of the theory of colour imitation, buthe sometimes uncertain that another pattern iswould not have served quite as well. Whetheror not the pattern did the killing is really anopen question. Just above the dam in front of the SpruceCabin Inn, at Canadensis, on the Brodhead, is abeautiful stretch of flat water where a great manyfine fish always be found. However, they mayare not always to be taken. Along the bankopposite the road, which at this point is but afew feet from the stream, is a heavy growth ofwood. The rhododendron, which is quite thick,throws its roots out from the bank under water,and the interstices between these roots affordfine hiding-places for the fish. At the upper endof the wood, just where a field joins it, there is a
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 167deep hole which is the home of a very largetrout a fish that has sorely tried the patienceof the few anglers who have attempted to takehim. An overhanging tree prevents the deliv-ery of a really effective cast from below, andthis undoubtedly accounts for a great manyfailures. In three successive years I have raisedthis fish seven times (a very small proportion ofthe times I have tried for him), on four occasionsleaving my fly with him, and not fasteningsolidly on the others. An old tree-stump towhich the rushes immediately upon being fishhooked accounts for the smashes. The fish willnot to a fly on coarse gut, and the fine gut risewill not hold him from the stump. If there everwas a trout that could convince the angler thatexact and even minute imitation was abso-lutely essential, this is the one. He feeds reg-ularly, and may be seen rising steadily for hoursat a time. No amount of casting will put himdown, unless clumsily done, and he will riseto a natural insect within a few inches of theartificial, time and again, ignoring the lattertotally. On one occasion the last time I triedfor him I failed so signally with all my favour-ite patterns, that I might have been convincedthat exact imitation was necessary had it not
    • 1 68 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERbeen for the fact that the fish rose indiscrimi-nately to many different sorts spinners, gnats,and the smaller members of the beetle family,lady-bugs, and the like, and finally to an artificialwhich bore no resemblance to any of these. Icould not imitate them all, and had tried faith-fully with a fair imitation, in size and colour, ofone species. It was all to no purpose, however, .and to him continually rising after the many seeattempts I had made was, to say the least,chastening. I finally decided, after watchinghim feed for ten minutes, to make one moreattempt, and to keep casting the one patternuntil he took it or was put down. I knotted ona fly known as the "Mole," which looks like aninsecton the water at a distance, but very unlikeone when examined closely. This fly was offeredprobably twenty times or more, without effect,the fish continuing to rise to the natural insectsall about it. The which eventually raised casthim differed from any that I had previouslymade, though without intent on my part. Whenthe fly alighted about a foot above the fish, itfell upon its side with one wing on the surfaceand the other in the air. Drifting down to with-in a few inches of the fish, it suddenly stooderect and cocked, this apparently the result of
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 169some pressure brought to bear upon the leaderby the slow current. It had hardly assumedthis upright position, and perhaps was still inthe act of regaining its equilibrium, when it dis-appeared and I was fast to the fish. He addedthis fly to his collection, and while I sadlyexamined the leader to ascertain the extentof the damage done, I was not wholly discon-tented. threw a Whirling Dun to this fish one day Iover a hundred times without putting him downor having him evince the slightest interest init. A few minutes going up-stream from later,him, I detached the fly from the leader, and,breaking the hook off at the bend, floated itdown, and it was taken readily. Perhaps onthis occasion I missed the psychological mo-ment, and it is quite possible that the fly wouldhave been taken if I had made one more cast,though not very probable. own notion of it Myis that the pattern, when floated down with thehook broken had a certain naturalness which off,was lacking when it was attached to the leader.Either the leader itself was seen, or its restraintupon the fly natural appearance. destroyed itsOn the other hand, however, the difficulty inpresenting the fly because of the overhanging
    • 170 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERtree may have prevented a proper presentation,though I think a great number of times it ap-proached the fish admirably. Whatever thereason may have been, I did not raise him thatday. Perhaps the actions of another fish that Iwatched feeding steadily for over an hour may,while hardly offering a solution of the difficulty,present some basis for conjecture. A gentlemanwho had observed him feeding the day beforecalled my attention to the fact that a good troutoccupied a pocket about one hundred littleyards above the big fish which has given me somuch sport, and he led me mysteriously awayfrom the and as mysteriously up the road, inn,until we reached the spot where the fish was,when he asked me to look in the little eddy andtell him what I saw. For a moment or two Icould see nothing but a little drift stuff, butvery shortly a good-sized snout broke the sur-face,and a large bubble floated where it had ap-peared. While we spent ten or fifteen minuteswatching the plans to get him fish rise, I laidthe next day. In the morning I thought betterof it, however, and planned to crawl down tothe waters edge and study his actions at closerange. In clambering down the steep bank I
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 171was rather clumsy, and he took fright and disap-peared. Getting as close as I could to the water,I hid behind a bush and watched for the fish toreturn, which he did in just four minutes, timedby my watch. This in itself was interesting, asit tended to show how long the incident lingeredin hismemory. The eddy which he occupiedwas formed at the bottom of a rather swift littlerun by a large boulder that deflected a part ofthe stream toward the bank and started it up-stream again. The fish stationed himself ex-actly in the centre of this up-stream current,which was not very strong, and immediatelybegan feeding. He rose three or four times aminute, sometimes oftener, according to the op-portunities presented. There were very fewinsects in the air, but apparently a great manyupon the surface of the water. I think perhapsa half dozen or so of different sorts alighted di-rectly in the eddy, all of which the fish accountedfor, but the majority of rises were to insectsthat were carried down-stream upon the surface,and collected in the eddy. They were of allsizes and shapes, from the tiniest Diptera, whichinterested him much, to a small, dead butterfly,lying flat, which he examined closely, but de-clined. It was this discrimination that puzzled
    • 172 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERme. He took many apparently dead insects,and refused many. He never refused any thatwere alive, and size or colour or shape made nodifference to him. Why some dead insects ap-pealed to him and others did not, I cannot guess,unless, perhaps, those that appeared dead to medid not look so to him. Every time he rose, itwas with the greatest deliberation; never did herush at the and once when a particularly fly,active dun fluttered on the surface close to him,instead of rushing for it as I expected him to do,he merely backed up under rising very slowly, it,finally sucking Another thing I noticed it in.was that he never went forward to take an in-sect. He went forward frequently to meet one,but always took it backing up. This manner oftaking a fly is not at all unusual, as fish may fre-quently be seen backing under an artificial,sometimes even turning down-stream before tak-ing it. If an insect showed the slightest activity,which many of them did in various ways, movingthe body up and down, opening and closingtheir wings, or moving their legs, he neverhesitated, but took it at once, even the tiniest.If the insect lay upon its side, he would driftwith a foot or two, sometimes taking it, fre- itquently leaving it. On one occasion he backed
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 173under an insect in this position for a distance ofabout three feet, and stopped, apparently aban-doning it;but the next instant he turned, tookit quietly, and swam slowly back to his station.I was unable to see this insect as clearly as Iwished, and I do not know that moved at the itmoment it was taken, but from the manner inwhich the fish took the others, it seems likelythat this was the case. Notwithstanding thedecided preference shown by this fish for themoving or living insects, he rose and took apiece of a twig about three eighths of an inchlong which I flipped to him at a moment whenhe was unoccupied, and I found this twig in hisstomach the next day, together with three spruceneedles, two of which were green and one yel-low. Would the presence of this drift stuff inhis stomach indicate that the fish was near-sighted, or that such drift really had a place inhis dietary? I have found in the stomachs of trout manysmall sticks, plainly fresh, and which certainlyformed no part of a caddis casing. Why theywere taken hard to say; some anglers have isexpressed the opinion, which may possibly besound, that the fish are compelled to take themin the attempt to secure some poor shipwreckedinsects which are using them as rafts. I prefer
    • 174 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERto believe, however, that they are mistaken bythe fish for some form of life, perhaps havingthe appearance of caddis larvae. The spruceneedles were probably mistaken for willow flies,or some of the family of Perlidcs those withwings that fold along the back. That the fish was taken the following morn-ing on the Mole, which certainly imitated noinsect with which he may have been familiar,perhaps means nothing. As he was feedingregularly,and rather indiscriminately, he wasprobably an easy fish to take. The Mole wasjust another morsel that looked natural enough.The first cast took him, the fly drifting up tohim after having been cast over the boulder atthe bottom of the eddy. The leader was notseen, and as the fly appeared in a natural, up-right position, his suspicion was not aroused,and a minute or two later he was in the net.Withal, the fishshowed a decided preference forliving insects, and refused those which were cer-tainly no deader than an artificial fly; and yetthe Mole was taken with just as much confi-dence as if it had been a living thing. I thinkit quite within reason thatany pattern of flyproperly presented would have taken the fishas readily as did the fly which he rose to, andmy conclusion is that it was because of its
    • IMITATION OF THE NATURAL INSECT 175position that it was taken. My observation ofthis fish confirmed my belief in the necessity ofso placing the fly that it would come to the fishjust as a natural insect would, floating upon thesurface. There is a great difference between theeffectproduced by a fly cast upon likely lookingwater, or to a feeding fish, without special careas to where it may alight, and that producedby one cast exactly to the proper spot. The larger fish down-stream apparently wasinterested only in live insects, which is shown,I think, by his utter refusal of every artificialof any pattern, including the Mole, which heignored each time it came over him, until thetwist in the leader, or some other uncontrolledaction, turned the fly over on the surface, andsimulated to a certain extent the struggle of aninsect endeavouring to rise from the water. Iam convinced that my many failures with thisfish were due, in the main, to my inability toplace the fly in a proper position. This con-clusion supported, I think, by the fact that ishe took the unattached Whirling Dun whichI was careful to float down to him in the propercurrent after he had refused it scores of timeswhen attached to the leader.
    • CHAPTER VI SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS SOME anglers have come to believe that thetrout of our heavily fished streams have devel-oped such wariness and cunning that they viewthe artificial fly of the angler with suspicion,even they do not actually know it to be an ifimitation. In the light of certain experiencesof my own, I am unable to concur in the con-clusion reached by these anglers that trout arecapable of reasoning or remembering specific in-cidents for any long period of time; it is myopinion presented, however, with some hesi-tancy that they refuse the artificial fly notbecause they have had previous experiencewith but because of various other reasons, itthe most important of which are the unnaturalaction of the fly and the probability of the fishhaving seen the angler, his rod, the leader, orthe shadow of one or all. Surely the trout ofthese streams cannot in July and August re-member the hordes of anglers that invaded theirhaunts in May. Admitting it to be true that in 176
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 177the earlier months of the season it is compara-tively easy to take trout, even when the streamsare full of anglers, and that later, in the summermonths, with but two or three anglers, or at mosta half dozen, to be seen, infinite skill is oftenrequired to induce even a single fair rise, some-thing other than the memory of the fish mustbe the cause of his reluctance to rise, as thefollowing instances may tend to prove. In July, 1911, I rose, hooked, and returnedto the water four fish three times each in oneweek; and these fish were taken in the sameplace and on the same pattern of fly each time.On another occasion I rose and landed aneleven-inch rainbow trout which I returned tothe water, and the next day this fish was broughthome by a fellow angler who had taken him inthe same place. This last may possibly havebeen another fish; but about !the four other marked themtrout there can be no mistake, as Iwithout injury before returning them to thewater the first time. I was prompted to makethis experiment after taking a fish from onespot, which resembled closely in size and forma fish I had returned to the water a few dayspreviously. This fish was one of the four, andwas twice taken and returned. Each of the fish
    • 178 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERgave up a minute piece of its caudal fin in re-turn for its life. Often, too, one hears of trout being takenwith the fly of some luckless or careless anglerfast in its jaw. On the Brodhead, in 1907, onemorning about eight oclock, I rose and killed anative trout weighing about a pound, which hada fly in its lip left there by an angler the eve-ning before; his nose was raw and bleeding wherehe had scraped against the stones in his itefforts to dislodge the hook. Experiences ofthis sort do not tend to confirm the belief thatfish have memory. The more enemies an animal has the morewary it is, and in those least able to defend them-selves against attack the senses which enablethem to avoid danger are most keen. In someanimals, sight, smell, and hearing are all keenlyalert; in others a combination of two of thesesenses is relied upon, and in rare cases but one.These warning of the approach of faculties givean enemy, and time, in most cases, for the use ofsuch secondary means of defence as are providedby nature speed, flight, protective colouring,or whatever they may be. In the case of trout, since scientists havecome to no definite conclusion that fish can
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 179smell, we may safely assume from the flyfishers standpoint, at any rate that this sensehas no place in our study. The same may besaid of taste and feeling; the luckless fish rely-ing upon these senses would find himself hardand fast before he could reach the conclusionthat the feathered fly was not what it appearedto be. This leaves sight and hearing as themeans by which the trout is apprised of the ap-proach of danger and the angler may well saythat they are quite sufficient. " If fish could hear as well as see, Never a fisher would there be." The experiments made by Ronalds and de-scribed in his "Fly Fishers Entomology" provemore or less conclusively that trout cannot hear,or at least are not disturbed by sounds pro-duced in the air. Now, while it is quite cer-tain that they are affected by vibrations com-municated to the water, the bottom of thestream, or its banks, I do not believe that thedisturbance is conveyed to the senses of the fishunless the vibrations take place close to it. Inthis connection,an experiment made by myselfmay prove interesting, even though it may bein no way conclusive, as it was tried but once,
    • i8o THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERand the trout which served as the medium mayhave been "deaf." Taking my position on a highbank above the fish and completely out of sight, Ihad a young man go below and thirty feet down-stream. Lying prone upon the opposite shore,which was level with the water, and takingpains not to make any quick move which mighthave spoiled the experiment, he took two stones,one in each hand, and, at a signal from me,struck them together, a foot under water. Hedid this a dozen times, each succeeding blowbeing harder than the previous one. The soundproduced by the clashing stones had no ap-parent effect upon the fish, but I noticed thatthe series of small waves or ripples created bythe disturbance of the surface, upon reaching thetrout, seemed to make it uneasy, and began it"weaving" from side to side, covering, however,not more than a foot in its movements. Whenthe fish had quieted down, and after anothertrial, with the same effect, I had the lad abandonthe stones and make as large a wave as he could,directed toward the fish. There was consider-able splashing during the attempt, but the troutgave no indication that it was aware of the dis-turbance until the first ripplewas passing overit, when it became as uneasy as before, and
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 181even more excited; and not until the ripplehad ceased did it resume the almost stationaryposition previously held. The fish was aboutone foot from the surface, and the largest ripplenot over two inches in height; consequently, itsmotion could hardly have been felt at a depthgreater than six inches; yet the fish was dis-turbed whether by the action of the water it-self or by the shadow cast by the ripple, I leavefor the reader to decide. Of one thing I ampositive: the fish was not disturbed by thesound of the colliding stones. The fishs sense of sight is so keen that italone enables the trout to avoid danger, and isabsolutely necessary to its existence. But it isnot so keen, in my opinion, as to enable thetrout to detect minute differences between theanglers fly and the natural insect except, ofcourse, when the action of the artificial fly is sounnatural as to warn the or frighten fish, it. Adherents to the theory that trout are ableto distinguish between the anglers artificialfly and the natural insect, make much of theadmitted fact that a fish is rarely taken fromthe much fished Southern streams on a Par-macheene Belle or other nondescript. Thereis a great deal of truth in the contention; but
    • 182 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERthe fact is lost sight of that these flies are usu-ally presented by anglers who have but littleknowledge of the habits of the fish they are seek-ing, their experience having been gained solelyat the expense of the trout of the wilderness. While not asserting the opinion that a gaudyfly will not take fish, I would remind the readerthat such a fly is usually cast by a man whopresents himself to the fish before he offers thefly with the inevitable result. The instinct ofself-preservation is strong in the trout, and heflees the apparition, though, if he would butrealise it, he was never safer than at the verymoment of its appearance. Anything unusual that comes within thevision of the fish means to him a possibledanger, and the desire to feed, if he be in themood, forgotten in his effort to locate the ispoint of attack. Any shadow thrown upon thewater indicates the approach of an enemya heron, a kingfisher, a mink (the most destruc-tive of all), or a man, in whom he recognises anenemy only because he sees a moving object.Beset as the trout is at all times, it is but naturalthat he should make use of his only means ofdefence speed and escape while he may. Onstreams that are much fished, frequent sight
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 183of man is afforded the fish, and, although theactions of the angler (except in rare cases) donot indicate the danger of actual personal en-counter, the fish retires, precipitately or quietly,according to the manner in which he is ap-proached. It is this sight of man or his shadow,and not the the ability to detect the fraud, thatimpels him to refrain from taking the fly. Ifthe angler remain hidden from view, and throwthe fly properly, without the accompaniment ofshadows of himself, rod, line, or leader, and arise is not induced, he may safely assume that lack of inclination on the part of the fish,it isand not a contempt for the pattern of the fly,bred of familiarity with it, that causes him torefuse it. These facts, or fancies, as theymay be con-sidered, are presented only as they may sup-port a theory that accounts for the wariness andcunning of the trout of much fished streams,and the apparent lack of these attributes in thetrout of the wilderness. It is a well known factthat a man who wishes to take trout in Maine,Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, or, in fact,anywhere woods where they are in the northplentiful, need have had no previous experienceto enable him to catch all that the law, or his
    • 1 84 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERconscience, permits. This same man fishing inPennsylvania or lower New York, practisingthe same methods he applied in the North, willleave the streams with the idea firmly fixed inhis mind that they are barren of fish, or, per-chance, viewing the catch made by a moreskilful angler, will come to the conclusion thatthe fish are more wary than their fellows of theNorth, and that a skill unknown to the anglerlacking experience on these waters is requiredto take them. The instinct of self-preservationis quite as strong in the trout of the wilderness,but expresses itself in other ways that are inkeeping with the different conditions they haveto contend with. In most places where trout are plentiful,there is abundance of room for them toescape from an enemy, an advantage deniedthe trout which are restricted to the narrowconfines of one of our mountain streams, par-ticularly when the water is low and the trouthave to be more wary than ever, if they are tosurvive. While endowed with the same agilityand the same keenness of sight, the wildernessfish areemboldened by numbers, and appear todepend a great deal upon one another for warn-ing; they are alert only to the "main chance";
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 185 the taking of anything that looks like food.i. e.,This explains why it is easy for the veriest tyrofishing in the wilderness to take as many fishwith the a single day as the expert on fly inthe Southern streams would be content to takein a season. Many of these big catches are madeupon and streams that are heavily fished; lakesyet the angler rarely has to resort to methodswhich require any great skill. In many instancesthe fishing done from a canoe, and fish are istaken quite close to it, the interest on the partof the trout seemingly being actuated by nothingmore than a desire to "beat his fellows to it." The lawof "the survival of the fittest" ap-plies equally to the fish of the Southern streamsand to the fish of the wilderness. In both casesvigilance and agility are the price of continuedexistence on the one hand, to avoid the attackwhich may deprive the fish of life, on the other,to excel in the scramble for that which will sus-tain it. If the old saw which runs, "When the windis in the north the skilful fisherman goes notforth," etc., referred to fly fishing, it was plainlymeant for the angler who did not care to in-dulge in his sport when the chilling blasts fromthis quarter were howling about the stream,
    • 1 86 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER tbecause it is in no sense descriptive of the effectof the wind upon the feeding of the fish. Whenan angler has taken trout under conditionsranging from flat calms to gales from everypoint of the compass, it is difficult for him tobelieve that wind has any direct effect upon thefish, aside, perhaps, from the influence it exertsin promoting or retarding the development ofthe insects upon which they feed; and this lastdepends more upon the temperature of the windthan it does upon its force or the quarter fromwhich it comes. The angler who is fishing the flat, still waterof a pond or lake hopes for a breeze in orderthat he may take advantage of the ripple causedby it, and deceive or approach his fish morereadily. The advantage afforded by the breezeis offset on many occasions, in proportion to theforce of the wind, by the increased difficulty ofcasting; and when a stiff wind is, blowing down-stream or in the face of the angler it is of negli-gible value. So far as comfort is concerned, achilling very disagreeable, and the an- wind isgler unfortunate enough to be upon the streamduring a "norther" in the early spring is quiteof the mind that trout are sensible of it, whenhe finds them in no keener mood for the sport
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 187than he is; yet it was just such a day, as coldand blustering as I have ever experienced, thatthe trout on the Brodhead, of which I have told,rose to the fly which was made to play suchpranks by the wind. There is a gentleman of my acquaintance, anexpert with the fly, who holds that it is uselessto fish a wooded stream when the wind is blow-ing heavily, not so much because of any changein atmospheric conditions, but because the rap-idly moving shadows thrown upon the waterby the frantically waving overhead limbs andbranches seem to make the trout restless ornervous, and unwilling to feed. Be this as itmay, it certainly does not apply upon the openstretches, for there the wind is of distinct ad-vantage, because the ruffled surface helps toconceal the anglers activities from the fish.When success does not attend the castersefforts on days of this sort, failure must beascribed to his state of mind rather than to thecondition of the weather. And here just a hint from my own experi-ence: beware of fishing in big woods on a verywindy day; dead limbs may come crashing downat any moment. On one occasion a difference often feet in my position would have meant dis-
    • 1 88 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERaster and these pages might never have beenwritten. During periods of high wind the trout areoften treated to a change of diet, land flies,grasshoppers, and beetles, unhappily overcome,being readily and cheerfully accepted. On oneoccasion, all the trout killed by five or six anglersdisclosed the fact, upon autopsy, that potato-bugs had formed a large part of their food thatmorning; and a fly which resembled this beetleonly in size and shape was found very effective.This fly was a herl-bodied brown palmer, calledthe Marlow Buzz. The many anglers who still hold to the beliefthat trout will not during a thunder-storm risedo so, no doubt, because it offers an excuse forretiring from the stream and seeking shelter,for which they cannot be blamed. It is notthe pleasantest situation to be caught in one ofthe vicious storms which sometimes break withscant warning. If, however, it happens thatthe angler is so placed that he is far from aroad or path that will lead him to some cover,he is than in the woods; far safer in the streamsand, making the best of a bad bargain, he shouldcontinue his fishing. In all likelihood, he willcome to the conclusion that the theory is not
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 189founded upon fact; for, while trout do not in-variably rise during thunder-storms, they maybe taken on occasions when the reverberationsare so heavy as to be felt almost as distinctly asthey are heard the effect upon the fish notbeing apparent. If the storm be accompanied by a heavy rain,dry fly fishing ceases as soon as the water beginsto rise and becomes discoloured, because, eventhough the fish may be ready to feed, there issmall likelihood of the anglers fly being seenby them through the discoloured water. Butno time should be wasted in returning to thestream after the flood has run off and the wateris clearing, as the opportunity for taking fishis then probably the best that will be presented. Idiosyncrasy or shall we call it superstition ? seems to enter into the make-up of a greatmany anglers. Squire Jake Price, now dead, father of theboys who keep that comfortable hostelry on theBrodhead, at Canadensis, in Pennsylvania, wellknown many anglers, was famous as a trout tofisherman. He fished with the fly only, tied hisown flies, and from the time his sons were ableto wade the streams would permit them to usenothing else. Always keen to be at his fishing,
    • 190 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERhe would not be dragged to the waterside unlesshis "almanac" told him the time was propitious.Curiously enough, when he did go, he alwaystook fish; but this may be ascribed to the factthat he "knew how" rather than to a revelationfrom the zodiac. A story is told of an angler of indifferent skill,but anxious to take home a basket of fish, whoinduced Squire Jake to accompany him onemorning. He felt certain of getting trout, theSquire having approved of the day. Upontheir arrival at the stream-side he proceeded toline his creel with fine grasses and ferns, when,to his amazement, the Squire left abruptly,saying he could not fish with one who wouldthus "fly in the face of Providence." Was thissuperstition, or only anger at the others as-surance ? Of similar mind to the Squire are those an-glers who persist in carrying, to their own in-convenience, a diminutive creel and smaller net,preferring to cram into either a fish twice toolarge rather than to carry equipment of adequate the taking of a good fish is a circumstancesize;which they feel may never be realised if theyanticipate it. Some consideration must be given to the be-
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 191lief of those who have unbounded faith in aparticular pattern of fly. There are wet flyfishermen on the Beaverkill who never make uptheir cast of three without including the fliesRoyal Coachman; and at least one of these,whom know, uses this fly, dry, in preference Ito any other. While the pattern has no placein my book, I respect the faith others havein it, which faith, however, is often rudelyshaken a short period, at least. for Afterfishing carefully for hours with his favourite flywithout response, the angler meets a brotherangler who displays two or three nice fish takenon the Queen, the Bumble, or what not, andpasses on. For the nonce the favourite is dis-carded, the Queen or Bumble is knotted on, butthe result is the same nothing. Another pat-tern is tried same result. Again the fly ischanged, and again, and still again. In hisanxiety our friend uses little skill, less judgment,and lacks entirely the great essential faith. Many times an angler, stepping quietly intothe stream at the beginning of his days sport,casts his fly to a spot where his experience tellshim a trout may be, and meets with responsealmost immediately. His next cast is acceptedquite as quickly, and in these few delicious mo-
    • 192 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERments, with the nucleus in his creel, the visionhe has had of the one great days catch beginsto take tangible form. But how rudely the vi-sion is dissipated in the next four or five hours,during which time he gets not a single rise! There are other anglers in whom entirely dif-ferent emotions are aroused when they are suc-cessful in taking fish soon after their arrival atthe stream. To them this incident spells utterfailure for the rest of the day. It seems tome that these men analyse the neglect tosituation, permitting superstition to run riotwith reason, and, to my mind, their troublesmay be ascribed to any one of three causes:(i) At the time the angler first steps intothe stream he may be arriving at the top orat the end of a rise that started fifteen,twenty, or thirty minutes before, which shortspace of time may be responsible for the differ-ence between two fish and a possible half dozen.If the anglermeets with this experience duringthe season when the water is very low and clear,and the day hot and bright, he may be satisfiedthat, to a great extent, such the explanation. isBut, if he is not a principal to cause number two,he should be able to continue taking some trout,even under these trying conditions. (2) The
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 193optimist arriving at the stream side prepareshis rod, surveys the scene of action, and, havingselected the spot he is to fish, enters the streamsome distance below, and quietly proceeds tohis point of vantage. Every instinct alert, heis careful to make no mistake, and his care anddeftness are at once rewarded. Continuing afew yards, another fish is taken, and possibly abit farther on, still another. Then, blinded byconceit, he falls into the pit he has dug for him-self. He thinks he has at last the right medi-cine, and unknowingly (and unmeaningly, blesshis heart) there steals over him a feeling akin tocontempt for the wary fish he is after. The nextpool approached with a swagger that fills the istrout that inhabit it with consternation, anddrives all thought of feeding from them. Someday it will occur to this angler that he has beena bit overconfident, and he will try getting outof the stream, going up a hundred yards throughthe brush, and starting all over as at the be-ginning; then he will come to a realisation ofthe truth. (3) The pessimist, by analysingcause number two, may overcome, to a certainextent, the deep-rooted superstition that, be-cause he gets a trout easily at the outset, he willget no more throughout the day. His is a state
    • 194 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERof mind that surely is not conducive to besteffort. After taking a fish on the first few casts,hissubsequent proceedings are governed by ananomalous condition of mind he believes thathis sport is over, yet hopes the day may provethe fallacy of his theory, and, in an unconsciouseffort to avoid his fate, he fishes in a carelessmanner. The which indicates that a large fish is risefeeding has, upon the minds of some anglers,a psychological effect which works toward de-feating any attempt they make in throwing tohim. The angler is only to the necessity alertof placing his fly near the fish, and, cautionthrown to the winds, he approaches in a mannerwhich might be called stealthy if he used it inescaping from a burning building. Having be-gun without cautioning, thus preparing the wayto dismal failure, he fixes his eye upon thespot where the rise was noted, and sends hisfly, with no thought, perhaps, other than to getit on the water as quickly as possible. If hisefforts meet with no reward and the chancesare that they will not and many fish are to beseen feeding about, he probably becomes allfrantic with desire to take one, runs through arapid change of flies in the hope of finding one
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 195that will entice, wastes many precious minutesin his fumbling uncertainty, when suddenly allrising ceases, and he has lost his opportunity. The remedy for all of these cases is the same calmness and deliberation. The suggestion that the sight of the leader isabhorrent to trout brings up a point upon whichgreat stress is by dry fly anglers. That the laidfish is warned off by seeing the gut upon thesurface of low, clear water is to my mind morecertain than anything else in the sport of an-gling. Whether or not frequent sight of theleader makes the fish familiar with it, is difficultto determine. Personally, I believe that when afish refuses a fly because he has seen the leaderattached to it, his timidity is likely to be due tothe impression of its unnaturalness at the mo-ment, rather than to his recollection of havingseen a like object before and learned its danger.In plain words probably inviting a storm ofprotest and criticism I am not inclined to thenotion that trout become "educated" on streamsthat are much fished. These trout are quitesensitive to danger, but, in my opinion, onlyimminent danger affects them. The suddenappearance of an angler waving a rod, or of acow fording the stream, are disturbing to trout,
    • 196 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERone just as much as the other. Both angler andcow are in motion, and that alone attracts theeye of the both intercept light, and thus fish;cast shadows upon the water, which mean pos-sible danger to him. Anything falling upon the surface of the waterarouses interest on the part of a fish observingit; if it be a shadow, he suspects danger in pro-portion to its size and activity; the fall of aleaf,a twig, or an insect is interesting to him inone way or another. Frequently a leaf or twig,if not so large as to frighten him at once, willbe investigated at close range. I have thrownmaple buds to trout, which were taken almostimmediately upon striking the water, beingslowly ejected afterward when it was discov-ered that the buds were not food. An insect intercepts light, but the insignifi-cant shadow it casts does not alarm the fish,and his attention is directed to the insect alone.When the artificial fly is thrown, however, itmust necessarily be with the leader attached,and if it so happens that the leader, or that partof it close to the fly, floats upon the surface, theattention of the fish divided between the fly isitself and the leader, the latter standing outboldly between the eye of the fish and the back-
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 197ground of sky. The leader floating upon thesurface is more visible to the fish than whenfullysubmerged. The angler who wishes todemonstrate this may do so by placing a lengthof gut upon the surface of some still, sunlitwater, noting the shadow cast by it upon thebed of the stream, and then comparing it withthe shadow of the same gut submerged. The water-strider, skipping nimbly over thesurface of clear, shallow water, affords an ex- shadow effects. The shad-cellent illustration ofows thrown upon the bottom by this curiousinsect are enormous when compared with itsactual size, and those resulting from the depres-sion in the surface made by the insects feetlook to be as big as a dime. It was observationof the shadows thrown by the water-strider thatprompted me to experiment with the leader;and my first attempt, made with the lightestleader I had, produced a shadow upon the bot-tom nearly an inch in width. Whether or notthis shadow alarms the fish more than does theleader probably depends upon the cir- itself,cumstances controlling the direction of his at-tention at the time, but it is certain that one orthe other does have a marked effect upon hisbehaviour. Perhaps both combined have, and,
    • 198 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERconsequently, he can hardly be expected to takethe fly when his interest is divided betwixt thedesire to feed,on the one hand, and suspiciontinged with fear on the other. Upon glassy water, the glistening leader, twist-ing and turning upon the surface, accompaniedby wrinkles along its entire length, pre- littlesents to the fish an aspect which must at leastarouse his curiosity and distract his attentionfrom the fly even though it does not terrifyhim and scare him off entirely. The visibility of the leader has always beenone of the problems of the fly fisher, irrespectiveof the question of drag. Many attempts havebeen made to produce a leader of neutral colourthat would be invisible, or approximately so,when on the water. I have done some experi-menting in this direction myself. I have triedall colours greens and browns, mist coloursand greys. I have steeped leaders in ink untilthey came out absolutely black. Yet, withal, Ihave failed to satisfy myself that one was betterthan the others, when I came to use it on thestream. If there is one colour that a leadermay be stained to render it less visible than an-other, I do not know what it is. I am inclinedto believe, however, that gut of natural colour
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 199is conspicuous than gut that has been lesscoloured to make it harmonise with the water.Partial solutions of the problem may be had byassuming certain controlling conditions to exist.For instance, as the fish views the leader frombelow, and against a background formed bythe sky, a light-blue leader to harmonise withthe background on a bright day, or, for a similarreason, a grey one on a cloudy day, may be thevery thing. Of course, it is all very speculative,because the main element of the problem whatthe fish thinks is an unknown one. In my opinion, the floating, drifting leader,with its wrinkles and its convolutions, consti-tutes the worst possible form of "drag," whichmust be avoided if trout are to be taken wherethe water is slow and unruffled. The anglershould endeavour to have the fly float and theleader sink obviously, by keeping one dry andthe other wet. He will find it even more difficultto keep the leader wet than to keep the fly dry;even when thoroughly saturated, the former willnot submerge readily when the fly is thrown aslightly as it should be. In swifter water it is easier to keep the leaderunder the surface, but here one encounters an-other form of drag which, while in my opinion
    • 200 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERnot so fatal to the anglers chances as the one Ihave described, is oftentimes more exasperating.This form of drag takes place when the fly,although accurately and lightly placed in thedesired spot, snatched away almost at once isby the current pulling on the line or leader; thefish may thus be deprived of an opportunity ofsecuring the fly, or he may refuse it because ofits unnatural action. The natural insect, un-hampered by any "string to it," drifts naturallywith the current, and the feeding fish whichmakes for it, having accurately judged its po-sition and pace, rarely misses. The artificial,when drag is exerted upon it, dashes down-streamat a speed always greater than that of thecurrent in which it is; besides the unnaturalaction it acquires, it sometimes ceases to be afloating fly, being dragged under the surface bythe pull of the line or leader in the swifter water.Drag of this sort usually occurs when the lineor the leader must fall on the swift water be-tween the angler and the spot he desires toreach with the fly, and is not always avoidable.Where possible, the line and leader should bekept out of the swift water. When casting to the eddies at the head of apool, the angler should assume a position on the
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 201same side of the current as the eddy to be fished.An effort should be made to place the line in thewater that turning up-stream where the eddy isbegins to take form. The fly falling fartherup will remain floating for a time quite longenough to be taken by a fish. If this eddy can-not be reached from directly below, because ofthe depth of water or on account of some ob-stacle to clean casting, the fly may be thrownacross the current with the up-stream curve inthe leader. Where this is found necessary theleader should be watched carefully and, beforeitbegins to exert a pull on the fly, the lattershould be retrieved quickly. The fly may betaken from the water quietly, as it should be,if a forward loop is thrown in the line similar tothat used in the switch cast. This action re-moves the leader from the water with but littledisturbance, and, as the fly is about to leave thesurface, the backward cast will carry it clear,practically without commotion. In the samemanner an eddy across stream may be fishedwith danger of a fish being put down by littlethe sight of a dragging fly. The method, how-ever, calls for keen alertness, and the anglermust have perfect and constant control of rodand line.
    • 202 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER Swift water in either a rift or a run shouldhave no terrors for the angler who fears a drag-ging fly, if he study the currents. Even will firstif he feels that a fish is occupying water thatcan be reached only by risking drag, he mustalways bear in mind that a fish is more likely tocome some distance to a natural-looking fly thanit is to take an unnatural one close to it. Aspot should be selected as close to the assumedposition of the fish as possible; but this choiceshould always be guided by the necessity forplacing the fly on water swifter than that inwhich the line and leader will fall. The "re-tarded" drag which may set in after the flyhas been placed in swift water, has floated down-stream until it below the leader, and is held isback by it, need not be feared, because the flywill have covered a considerable stretch in itstravel, and may then be retrieved. Sometimesthe sight of a dragging fly is more offensive tothe angler than it is to the fish; and there areoccasions when it will be taken, if its actionshave not been particularly rude. As an aid to keeping the line afloat in swiftwater, an application of deers fat, or one of themany preparations now made for the same pur-pose, is recommended. It is sufficient to treat
    • SOME FANCIES SOME FACTS 203three or four yards at the end of the line, andthe dressing should be rubbed down smoothlyafterward. Under no circumstances should anydressing be applied to the leader, because, eventhough it helps to float the fly, the gut will befound to be annoyingly buoyant when the stillreaches are being fished, and will produce thattroublesome form of drag already described, andwhich I consider the only form that undulytaxes the ingenuity and patience of the expertand even-tempered. My own opinion is thatthe sight of the leader does not seriously deterthe fish from taking the fly in swift water. Buton smooth water a superbuoyant leader is anuisance and a plague and an abomination.
    • CHAPTER VII THE POINT OF VIEW THEcapture of a splendid ouananiche undercircumstances most trying is somewhere de-scribed by a well-known writer, who, in his inim-itable style, exhibits himself before his readersrunning through his entire assortment of artificialflies, first one and then another and still another,and all without avail. We see him casting, cast-ing, all impatience, determined, perhaps exasper-ated. Surely some sort of lure is predicated.But what ? Ah, he has it ! A live grasshopper.Then follows the pursuit, the overtaking, andthe capture of the grasshopper, the impalingof its unfortunate body, its proffer to the fish,a desperate battle, and, finally, the contempla-tion of the finest fish of the season safely landed.The thrilling moment! Which was it? Why,of moments, that one in which he captured allthe grasshopper! The story affords a fine illus-tration of what I call the "point of view," butuntil after the revelation that came to me withmy first success with the dry fly, I did notfully appreciate its finer and deeper meanings. 204
    • THE POINT OF VIEW 205 Certain pleasurable excitement always attendsthe taking of a good fish by the true angler.Yet, after the quality of his gratification all,should be measured by the method of capture.In angling, as in all other arts, ones tasteand discrimination develop in proportion to hisopportunity to see, study, and admire the workof greater artists. Even as a knowledge of thebetter forms of music leads, eventually, to adistaste for the poorer sorts, and as familiaritywith the work of great painters leads to disgustwith the chromolithograph-like productions ofthe dauber, so, too, does a knowledge of thehigher and more refined sorts of angling leadjust as surely to the ultimate abandonment ofthe grosser methods. One who has learned tocast the fly seldom if ever returns to the dayswhen he was content to sit upon the bank, orthe string-piece of a pier, dangling his legs over-board while he watched his cork bobbing upand down, indicating by its motions what mightbe happening to the bunch of worms at thehook end of the and, even as casting the line;fly leads to the abandonment of the use of bait,so, too, does the dry fly lead to the abandonmentof the wet or sunk fly. There can be no questionbut that the stalking of a rising trout bears to
    • 206 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERthe sport of angling the same relation to itsgrosser forms as the execution of a symphonybears to the blaring of the local brass band. Itappeals to the higher and more aesthetic quali-ties of the mind, and dignifies the pot-huntersbusiness into an art of the highest and finestcharacter. I am thus brought to the consideration ofthe pot-hunter and the fish hog. Many anglingwriters there be who have not hesitated, norhave they been ashamed, to describe the takingof great numbers of trout on separate and manyoccasions. They feel, no doubt, that such nar-ratives entitle them to consideration as author-ities on the subject. I quote from one whoshall be nameless his bragging description of aperfect slaughter of fish. After telling of twenty-five or thirty trouttaken during midday, nam-ing at least a dozen flies he had found killing,he concludes: "All my trout were taken fromthe hook and thrown twenty-five feet to shore.Thirty, my friend claimed, yet when I came tocount tails I found forty as handsome trout asever man wished to see, and all caught from sixin the evening until dark, about seven forty-five. I had no net or creel, therefore had tolead my trout into my hand. The friend at
    • THE POINT OF VIEW 207whose house was staying claims I lost more Ithan I caught by having them flounder off thehook while trying to take them by the gills andby flinging them ashore." The italics are mine.And this fellow had the temerity to add thatsome poor devil (an itinerant parson, he calledhim) annoyed him by wading in and fishingwith a "stick cut from the forest." Had Wash-ington Irving witnessed this fellows fishing Idoubt that he would have been moved to write:"There is certainly something in angling thattends to produce a gentleness of spirit and apure serenity of mind." There are men calling themselves anglers!save the mark who limit the number of fishto the capacity of creel and pockets, and to whomsize means merely compliance with the law awicked law, at that, which permits the taking rof immature trout. It is not an inspiring sightto see a valiant angler doing battle with a six-inch trout, and, after brutally subjecting it tocapture, carefully measuring it on the butt ofhis rod which he has marked for the purpose,stretching it, if necessary, to meet the laws re-quirements, and in some cases, if it does notcome up to the legal standard, rudely flinging itaway in disgust to die as a result of its mis-
    • 208 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERhandling. Happily, this tribe is not increasing,because of the persistent efforts of true sports-men who do not hesitate to denounce it publiclywhenever opportunity arises. Perhaps it is per-missible to hope that the pot-hunter and thefish hog may in time disappear, but, if this de-sirable end is to be brought about, true sports-men must not shun their duty but must wageunceasing war against them. Books on angling abound in word-pictures de-scriptive of the strenuous battle of the hookedfish to escape its captor, many such picturesbeing so vividly drawn that the reader fairlyimagines himself in the writers waders, his ex-citement ending only when the captive is in thenet. It meet, therefore, that some considera- istion be given to the point of view of those anglerswho believe that great merit attaches to himwho lands a good fish on light tackle. There can be no question of the excitementattending the playing of a good trout nor ofthe skill required in its handling, and this excite-ment, in proportion to the ideas of the indi-vidual, a greater or less measure of the sport; isbut, given the opportunity, it is my opinionthat, in the hands of a skilful angler, the rodwill kill nine out of ten fish hooked. Be that
    • THE POINT OF VIEW 209as it may, can the degree of skill, even with thelightest tackle, displayed in the landing of atwo or three pound trout (a fine fish on ourEastern streams) bear comparison with thatrequired in the capture of a six-foot tarpon ona six-ounce rod and a six-strand line? A six-foot tarpon will weigh about one hundred andtwenty pounds, and the line will bear a dead-weight strain of twelve pounds. Compare thiswith the three-pound trout taken on a gut leader,the weakest link in the anglers chain, whichwill lift a weight of two or more pounds, andthe futility of beguiling oneself with the beliefthat the trout has any advantage will be ap-parent. The playing of a trout undeniably part of isthe sport, but, however difficult one wishes tomake it, it is but secondary to the pleasure de-rived from casting the fly and deluding that oldtrout into mistaking it for a bit of living food.It is this art, this skill, this study of the fish it-self and its habits, that places dry fly fishingfor trout far ahead of other forms of angling. allIt has been said that there is no sport that re-quires in its pursuit a greater knowledge ofthe game, more more perseverance, than skill,fly fishing, and that no sport holds its votaries
    • 210 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERlonger. I am quite of this opinion. "There isno genuine enjoyment in the easy achievement ofany purpose," and in fly fishing a full measureof satisfaction is obtained only when the takingof a single fish is accomplished under conditionsmost difficult and trying. The content only when he feels true angler isthat he has taken his fish by the employmentof unusual skill. The highest development ofthis skill at the present state of the anglers artisthe dry fly method. I do not deny that thereare many anglers who have carried sunk fly andeven worm casting to a high degree of special-isation and refinement; yet it seems to menay, more than that, it is a positive convictionwith me that no manner of sunk fly or wormor bait casting bears any sort of favourablecomparison to the manner of the dry fly. Iknow that in this country, at least, the dry flyman is accused by his sunk fly fellows of beingaffected, dogmatic, fanatic. Yet it is not so.The dry fly man has passed through all of thestages of the anglers life, from the cane poleand the drop-line to the split bamboo and thefur-and-feather counterfeit of the midge fly.He has experienced throes of delight each timehe advanced from the lower to the higher grade
    • THE POINT OF VIEW 211of angler. I insist that I do not make my wordstoo strong whensay that in all of angling there Iis no greater delight than that which comes tothe dry fly angler who simulates a hatch of flies,and entices to the surface of the water a fishlying hidden, unseen, in the stronghold of hisown selection. Let him who doubts put asidehis prejudice long enough to give the premiermethod fair trial, and soon he will be foundapplying for the highest degree of the cult"dry fly man."
    • CHAPTER VIII A FEW PATTERNS OF FLIES THE literature devoted to the subject of theartificial fly is very extensive and informing,and it is not my intention to add thereto exceptfor the purpose of describing a few flies that Iuse in my own fishing. The tackle shops offeralmost countless patterns of flies of varied huesand forms, and anglers can indulge their indi-vidual tastes by choosing sizes, colours, and shapesto suit their fancies. I have never attempted tocompute the number of artificial flies listed inthe dealers catalogues and described in theworks of angling writers, but I think it mustrun into the hundreds. There is, however, agrowing tendency toward restriction in thenumber of special patterns used in actual fish-ing, and in my own fishing I have reduced thisnumber to a very small one. It is doubtless true that the fly fisher derivesno small part of his pleasure from the act ofselecting and purchasing flies. It is within the 212
    • A FEW PATTERNS OF FLIES 213experience of every fly fisher, I think, that,under the influence of the memory of a certainfish taken on a particular pattern of fly, he in-cludes a dozen or two of the sort in his nextpurchase. Perhaps the fly is a nondescript thathe may never again find successful, but, never-theless, he adds it to his store. Angling friendsrecommend their patterns to him, or somespecial flies theyfound taking under certaincircumstances or over particular streams, andthese, too, he buys and puts away. Maybehe may never use one of them, and in the endhe comes, perhaps, to feel, as does the philate-list, great pleasure in the possession of a wor-thy collection: he has the pride of ownership,but no thought of putting his treasures to use.Of course, there can be no reasonable objectionto fly collecting, and I can see how it may be-come as fascinating an employment as stampor coin collecting. Assuming that the angler is a believer inclose imitation, he will, of course, be contentonly when he has all of the patterns which havebeen created by the votaries of the theory; butifhe should be inclined to agree with me thata great part of the imitation must be producedby the angler himself while actually fishing the
    • 214 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERstream he will find that about ten patternswill suffice under nearly all circumstances. give the dressings of eight patterns, although II rarely use over six. If I were compelled to doso, I could get along very well with one theWhirling Dun. Fishing the Brodhead through-out the month of July, I used this fly exclusively,and took every day except two. On three fishseparate occasions I used a different fly at onetime a Pink Lady, at another a Mole, and atstill another a Silver Sedge. On each occasionI took one fish with the selected fly, after whichIwent back to the Whirling Dun, and continuedmy fishing. I killed one or two fish each day,the average for the month being very close to apound and a half. I returned many fish to thewater, and these averaged over ten inches.Some days the fish were feeding, and some daysthey were not. There was apparently little dif-ference in the taking effect of the fly, exceptthat was taken readily when it it was deliveredproperly, and never when it was not. No matter how great the faith an angler hasin a single pattern, it will naturally be verydifficult for him to confine himself to its exclu-sive use. So much of his sport depends upon itsdelightful uncertainty, that if he does confine
    • A FEW PATTERNS OF FLIES 215himself to the use of the single pattern, hewill, of a consequence, be denied the pleasureof congratulating himself upon the acumenhe has shown by the selection of the flywhich is taken, after the favourite has beenrefused. With the exception of the Pink Lady, the fliesdescribed are all standard patterns tied, how-ever, according to my own Anglers preference.who wish a more varied choice, one that in-cludes one or two fancies, may add to the lista Wickhams Fancy and, for use when the fishare smutting, a small black gnat tied with aglossy black hackle and no wings a varietythat will often prove very effective when thefish are feeding in that manner. A MarlowBuzz may be included for use on windy dayswhen the larger land insects are blown uponthe water. The flies commonly used by me, with theirdressings, are as follows: WHIRLING DUN (BLUE)Wings. Starling or duck, medium light.Body. Water-rat or mole fur; two turns of flat gold tin- sel around hook at end of body.Legs. Glossy ginger or light brown cocks hackle.Tail. Three whisks of same.
    • 216 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER PALE EVENING DUN (WATERY DUN)Wings. Light starling.Body. Lemon mohair lightly dressed.Legs. Glossy barred Plymouth Rock cocks hackle.Tail. Two or three whisks of same. PINK LADYWings. Medium starling or duck.Body. Pale pink floss ribbed with flat gold tinsel.Legs. Ginger or light reddish-brown hackle.Tail. Three whisks of same. GOLD-RIBBED HARES EARWings. Medium starling or duck.Body. Hares fur ribbed with flat gold tinsel body, not too heavy.Legs. Hares fur tied on with silk.Tail. Two or three rather long whisks, grey mallard. FLIGHTS FANCYWings. Light starling or duck.Body. Pale yellow floss ribbed with flat gold tinsel.Legs. Ginger hackle.Tail. Two or three whisks of same. The body of this fly will turn green when wet, which is nothing against it, however. SILVER SEDGEWings. Rather dark starling.Body. White floss ribbed with flat silver tinsel.Legs. Pale ginger hackle.Tail. Two or three whisks of same. The body of this fly will turn a greyish-blue when wet, but the change does not affect its taking qualities.
    • A FEW PATTERNS OF FLIES 217 WILLOWWings. None.Body. Light blue fur, mole or fox, ribbed with light yellow silk.Legs. Glossy white or transparent hackle.Tail. Two whisks of same. MOLEWings. Medium starling or duck.Body. Light mole fur lightly dressed and tightly wound.Legs. Purplish-brown (dyed), hackle tied palmer-wise.Tail. Three or four whisks of same. The standard pattern of this fly is tied with light brown woodcock wings. It advisable that each of the patterns be istied on hooks of different sizes Nos. 10, 12, 14,and 1 6 will suffice because the size of the fly isoften important, particularly when the water isvery low and clear. If a greater aid required in floating the fly is(barring the use of paraffin) other than a stiffhackle at the shoulder, I would recommendthat a short-fibred hackle be tied on at theshoulder and carried around and down the bodyto the the fibres being cut off close to the tail,body after tying. The effect of this dressingwill be to make the fly float better, particularlyafter some use, and after the points of thelonger shoulder hackles have been submerged.
    • 218 THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATERThe short fibres along the body, by intercept-ing some light and permitting some to passthrough, will help to produce the effect of trans-parency or translucency of the natural insect,which effect would be particularly noticeableupon flies where used for the body. The quill isuse of this hackle can be dispensed with in thecase of those flies where fur or mohair is used forthe body a few fibres picked out with a needleproducing much the same appearance and effect. It may be the experience of other anglers whohave experimented with the artificial fly in at-tempts to produce one that would cock read-ily and maintain a good balance on the water,that one tied with the wings leaning rathermore forward than is the present practice,offers the nearest solution to these difficulties.My own experience is that flies tied in thismanner sit upon the water, but I beautifullycannot say that they cock any more frequentlythan those tied with upright wings. I wouldsuggest that the angler tie a few flies with thewings forward at an angle of about 120, tiltedand try them. If nothing else is accomplished,the experiment may lead to a development inthe form of the fly which will enable us all tosome day take the one "big fish/
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