Dryflyfastwaterf00labrrich

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Dryflyfastwaterf00labrrich

  1. 1. L * *B E R KGENERALLIBRARY UNIVERSITY Of CALIFORNIA
  2. 2. THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. COPYMGHT, 1914. BTCHARLES SCRIBNERS SONS Published May, 1914
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. 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
  16. 16. 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,
  17. 17. 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
  18. 18. 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
  19. 19. 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
  20. 20. 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-
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. 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
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. 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
  25. 25. 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
  26. 26. 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
  27. 27. 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.
  28. 28. 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
  29. 29. 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
  30. 30. 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
  31. 31. 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.
  32. 32. 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
  33. 33. 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
  34. 34. 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
  35. 35. 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-
  36. 36. 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
  37. 37. 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-
  38. 38. 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
  39. 39. 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
  40. 40. 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
  41. 41. 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.
  42. 42. 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
  43. 43. 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.
  44. 44. 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
  45. 45. 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
  46. 46. 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
  47. 47. 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
  48. 48. 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
  49. 49. 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.
  50. 50. 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
  51. 51. 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-
  52. 52. 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
  53. 53. 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
  54. 54. 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
  55. 55. 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-
  56. 56. 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
  57. 57. 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
  58. 58. 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
  59. 59. 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
  60. 60. 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
  61. 61. 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
  62. 62. 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?
  63. 63. 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
  64. 64. 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
  65. 65. 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.
  66. 66. 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
  67. 67. 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
  68. 68. 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
  69. 69. 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
  70. 70. 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.
  71. 71. 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

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