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more pleasure to the fly-angler than all the rest: and here it is that you are to expect an account of the Green-drake and Stone-fly, promised you so long ago, and some others that are peculiar to this month and part of the month following, and that (though not so great either in bulk or name) do yet stand in competition with the two before-named, and so that it is yet undecided amongst the anglers to which of the pretenders to the title of the May-fly it does properly and duly belong. Neither dare I, (where so many of the learned in this art of angling are got in dispute about the controversy,) take upon me to determine; but I think I ought to have a vote amongst them, and according to that privilege shall give you my free opinion, and peradventure, when I have told you all, you may incline to think me in the right.
Viat. I have so great a deference to your judgment in these matters, that I must always be of your opinion; and the more you speak, the faster I grow to my attention, for I can never be weary of hearing you upon this subject.
Pisc. Why that's encouragement enough; and now prepare yourself for a tedious lecture; but I will first begin with the flies of less esteem, (though almost any thing will take a Trout in May, that I may afterwards insist the longer upon those of greater note and reputation. Know, therefore, that the first fly we take notice of in this month, is called
1. The TURKEY-Fly; the dubbing ravelled out of some blue stuff, and lapt about with yellow silk, the wings of a grey-mallard's feather.
2. Next, a GREAT HACKLE, or PALMER-FLY; with a yellow body, ribbed with gold-twist, and large wings of a mallard's feather dyed yellow, with a red capon's hackle over all.
3. Then a Black Fly; the dubbing of a black spaniel's fur, and the wings, of a grey mallard's feather.
4. After that, a Light BROWN, with a slender body, the dubbing twirled upon small red silk, and raised with the point of a needle, that the ribs or rows of silk may appear through the wings of the grey feather of a mallard.
5. Next a Little Dun; the dubbing of a bear's dun whirled upon yellow silk, the wings of the grey feather of a mallard.
6. Then a WHITE Gnat, with a pale wing, and a black head.
7. There is also in this month a fly called the PEACOCK-FLY, the body made of a whirl of a peacock's feather, with a red head, and wings of a mallard's feather.
8. We have then another very killing fly, known by the name of the Dun-Cut;1 the dubbing of which is a bear's dun, with a little blue and yellow mixt with it, a large dun wing, and two horns at the head, made of the hairs of a squirrel's tail.
9. The next is a Cow-LADY, a little Ay, the body of a peacock's feather, the wing of a red feather, or strips of the red hackle of a cock.
10. We have then the Cow-DUNG-FLY; the dubbing light brown and yellow mixt; the wing, the dark grey feather of a mallard. And note, that besides these abovementioned, all the same hackles and flies, the hackles only brighter, and the flies smaller, that are taken in April, will also be taken this month, as all Browns and Duns: and now I come to my Stone-fly and Green-drake, which are the matadores for Trout and Grayling, and in their
(1) Dun-Cut. Dub with bear's-cub fur, and a little yellow and green crewel, warp with yellow or green : wing, of a land-rail. Towards the evening of a showery day this is a great killer.
season kill more fish in our Derbyshire rivers, than all the rest, past and to come, in the whole year besides.
But first I am to tell you, that we have four several flies which contend for the title of the May-fly, namely, the GREEN-DRAKE; the Stone-Fly; the BLACK-FLY; and the LITTLE YELLOW May-FLY.
And all these have their champions and advocates to dispute and plead their priority; though I do not understand why the two last-named should; the first two having so manifestly the advantage, both in their beauty and the wonderful execution they do in their season.
11. Of these the Green-DRAKE comes in about the twentieth of this month, or betwixt that and the latter end, (for they are sometimes sooner, and sometimes later, according to the quality of the year,) but never well taken till towards the end of this month, and the beginning of June. The STONE-FLY comes much sooner, so early as the middle of April, but is never well taken till towards the middle of May, and continues to kill much longer than the Green-drake stays with us, so long as to the end almost of June; and, indeed, so long as there are any of them to be seen upon the water; and sometimes in an artificial fly, and late at night, or before sunrise in a morning, longer.
Now both these flies, and I believe many others, though I think not all, are certainly and demonstratively bred in the very rivers where they are taken; our cadis or codbait, which lie under stones at the bottom of the water, most of them turning into those two flies, and being gathered in the husk, or crust, near the time of their maturity, are very easily known and distinguished, and are of all other the most remarkable, both for their size, as being of all other the biggest, (the shortest of them being a full inch long or more,) and for the execution they do, the Trout and Grayling, being much more greedy of them than of any others; and indeed the Trout never feeds fat, nor comes into his perfect season, till these flies come in.
Of these the Green-DRAKE never discloses from his husk, till he be first there grown to full maturity, body, wings, and all; and then he creeps out of his cell, but with his wings so crimpt and ruffled, by being prest together in that narrow room, that they are for some hours totally useless to him; by which means he is compelled either to creep upon the flags, sedges, and blades of grass, (if his first rising from the bottom of the water be near the banks of the river) till the air and sun stiffen and smooth them: or if his first appearance above water happen to be in the middle, he then lies upon the surface of the water, like a ship at hull, (for his feet are totally useless to him there, and he cannot creep upon the water as the Stone-fly can,) until his wings have got stiffness to fly with, if by some Trout or Grayling he be not taken in the interim, (which ten to one he is,) and then his wings stand high, and clos'd exact upon his back, like the butterfly, and his motion in flying is the same. His body is in some, of a paler, in others of a darker yellow, (for they are not all exactly of a colour) ribb’d with rows of green, long, slender, and growing sharp towards the tail, at the end of which he has three long small whisks of a very dark colour, almost black, and his tail turns up towards his back like a mallard, from whence, questionless, he has his name of the Greendrake. These (as I think I told you before) we commonly dape, or dibble with; and having gather'd great store of them into a long draw box, with holes in the cover to give them air, (where also they will continue fresh and vigorous a night for more) we take them out thence by the wings, and bait them thus upon the hook. We first take one, (for we commonly fish with two of them at a time,) and putting the point of the hook into the thíckest
part of his body, under one of his wings, run it directly through, and out at the other side, leaving him spitted cross upon the hook; and then taking the other, put him on after the same manner, but with his head the contrary way; in which posture they will live upon the hook, and play with their wings, for a quarter of an hour or more: but you must have a care to keep their wings dry, both from the water, and also that your fingers be not wet when you take them out to bait them, for then your bait is spoil'd.
Having now told you how to angle with this fly alive, I am now to tell you next how to make an artificial fly, that will so perfectly resemble him, as to be taken in a rough windy day, when no flies can lie upon the water, nor are to be found about the banks and sides of the river, to a wonder; and with which you shall certainly kill the best Trout and Grayling in the river.
The artificial Green-drake' then is made upon a large hook, the dubbing camel's hair, bright bear's hair, the soft down that is combed from a hog's bristles, and yellow camlet, well mixt together; the body long, and ribbed about with green silk, or rather yellow, waxed with green wax, the whisks of the tail of the long hairs of sables, fitchet, and the wings of the white-grey feather of a mallard, dyed yellow, which also is to be dyed thus:
Take the root of a barbary tree, and shave it, and put to it woody viss, with as much alum as a walnut, and boil
your feathers in it with rain water; and they will be of a very fine yellow.
I have now done with the Green-drake, excepting to tell you,
that he is taken at all hours, during his season,
(1) Green-druke, or May-fly. The body of seal's fur, or yellow mohair, a little cub-fox down, and hog's wool, or light brown from a Turkey-carpet, mixed; warp with pale yellow, or red cock's hackle, under the wings; wings of a mallard's feather, dyed yellow; three whisks in his tail from a sable muff. Takon all day, but chiefly from two to four in the afternoon.