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Pisc. Enough, Sir, enough; I have laid open to you the part where I can worst defend myself, and now you attack me there. Come, boy, set two chairs; and whilst I am taking a pipe of tobacco, which is always my breakfast, we will, if you please, talk of some other subject.
Viat. None fitter, then, Sir, for the time and place, than those instructions you promis'd.
Pisc. I begin to doubt, by something I discover in you, whether I am able to instruct you or no; though, if you are really a stranger to our clear northern rivers, I still think I can: and therefore, since it is yet too early in the morning at this time of the year, to-day being but the seventh of March, to cast a fly upon the water, if will direct me what kind of fishing for a Trout I shall read you a lecture on, I am willing and ready to obey you.
Viat. Why, Sir, if you will so far oblige me, and that it
may not be too troublesome to you, I would entreat you would run through the whole body of it; and I will not conceal from you that I am so far in love with you, your courtesy, and pretty More-Land seat, as to resolve to stay with you long enough by intervals, for I will not oppress you, to hear all you can say upon that subject.
Pisc. You cannot oblige me more than by such a promise: and therefore, without more ceremony, I will begin to tell you, that my father Walton having read to you before, it would look like a presumption in me, (and, peradventure, would do so in any other man,) to pretend to give lessons for angling after him, who, I do really believe, understands as much of it at least as any man in England, did I not pre-acquaint you, that I am not tempted to it by any vain opinion of myself, that I am able to give you better directions; but having, from my childhood, pursued the recreation of angling in very clear rivers, truly, I think, by much, (some of them, at least)
the clearest in this kingdom, and the manner of angling here with us, by reason of that exceeding clearness, being something different from the method commonly used in others, which, by being not near so bright, admit of stronger tackle, and allow a nearer approach to the stream, I may peradventure give you some instructions, that
may be of use, even in your own rivers, and shall bring you acquainted with more flies and shew you how to make them, and with what dubbing too, than he has taken notice of in his COMPLETE ANGLER.
Viat. I beseech you, Sir, do; and if you will lend me your steel, I will light a pipe the while, for that is, commonly, my breakfast in a morning, too.
Of Angling for TROUT or GRAYLING.
Piscator. Why, then Sir, to begin methodically, as a master in any art should do, (and I will not deny, but that I think myself a master in this) I shall divide Angling for Trout, or GRAYLING, into these three ways; at the top; at the bottom; and in the middle. Which three ways, though they are all of them, (as I shall hereafter endeavour to make it appear,) in some sort common to both those kinds of fish; yet are they not so generally and absolutely so, but that they will necessarily require a distinction, which, in due place, I will also give you.
That which we call angling at the top, is with a fly; at the bottom, with a ground-bait; in the middle, with a minnow or ground-bait.
Angling at the top is of two sorts; with a quick fly, or with an artificial fly.
That we call Angling at the bottom, is also of two sorts; by hand, or with a cork or float.
That we call Angling in the middle, is also of two sorts; with a Minnow, for a Trout, or with a ground-bait for a Grayling.
Of all which several sorts of angling, I will, if you can have the patience to hear me, give you the best account
Viat. The trouble will be yours, and mine the pleasure and the obligation : I beseech you therefore to proceed.
Pisc. Why then first of fly-fishing.
Piscator. Fly-fishing, or fishing at the top, is, as I said before, of two sorts; with a natural and living fly, or with an artificial and made fly.
First then, of the NATURAL Fly; of which we generally use but two sorts; and those but in the two months of May and June only; namely, the Green-drake, and the Stone-fly: though I have made use of a third, that way, called the Chamblet-fly, with very good success, for Grayling, but never saw it angled with by any other, after this manner, my master only excepted, who died many years ago, and was one of the best anglers that ever I knew.
These are to be angled with, with a short line, not much more than half the length of your rod, if the airbe still; or with a longer very near, or all out, as long as your rod, if you have any wind to
And this way
of fishing we call DAPING, DABBING, or DIBBING ;' wherein you are always to have your line flying before you up or down the river, as the wind serves, and to angle as near as you can to the bank of the same side whereon you stand, though where you see a fish rise near you, you may guide your quick fly over him, whether in the middle, or on the contrary side; and if you are pretty well out of sight, either by kneeling, or the interposition of a bank or bush, you may almost be sure to raise, and take him too, if it be presently done; the fish will, otherwise, peradventure be removed to some other place, if it be in the still deeps, where he is always in motion, and roving up and down to look for prey, though, in a stream, you may always almost, especially if there be a good stone near, find him in the same place. Your line ought in this case to be three good hairs next the hook; both by reason you are, in this kind of angling, to expect the biggest fish, and also that, wanting length to give him line after he is struck, you must be forced to tug for it: to which I will also add, that not an inch of your
line being to be suffered to touch the water in dibbing, it may be allowed to be the stronger. I should now give you a description of those flies, their shape and colour; and, then, give you an account of their breeding; and withal, shew
you how to keep and use them: but shall defer them to their proper place and season.
Viat. In earnest, Sir, you discourse very rationally of this affair, and I am glad to find myself mistaken in you; for, in plain truth, I did not expect so much from you.
Pisc. Nay, Sir, I can tell you a great deal more than this : and will conceal nothing from you. But I must now to the second way of Angling at the top; which is
(1) See, in Chap. VII. May, Art. 11. directions how to bait with the Greendrake fly.