On Tackle and Fly Making
It is exceedingly desirable that the angler should be able to make and repair his own tackle. This will probably save him quite one-half of his outlay, and has the satisfaction of knowing that he can trust to the tackle, which he cannot always when he buys it; while, in case of accident, he can repair without delay, when the impossibility of doing so might peril his day's sport. The art of tying strands of gut together and of whipping on a hook may be learnt in a minute; and there is scarcely a book on angling that does not thoroughly explain it. Fly-tying, however, requires more notice.
The simplest form of trout-fly is the hackle, or palmer-fly. Having whipped the gut on to the hook with strong but fine silk, finishing at the bend of the hook and whip them on with the silk, wind the silk on two-thirds up the hook, and then tie on the tip of a cock's hackle. Fig. 13 (page 38) shows the position. Should it be desired, however, to run the hackle all over the body, it may be tied on along with the peacock's harls. In that case, first wind on the harls round the hook side by side, avoiding the hackle, until they reach the head of the hook, when they must be tied down and cut off; then wind the hackle ton likewise up to the head, pressing it down so as to make the fibres point all towards the tail; and having reached the head, tie that down too and snip off the waste, when fig. 14 is finished, and the hackle or palmer-fly complete (see fig. 14). If it be required to produce a winged fly, a little less hackle must be employed, and two slips of some suitable feather placed together as a pair of wings, and whipped on as in fig. 15 (see fig. 15). Should a tail be desired, two or three wisps of some suitable feather are whipped on at the bend of the hook before tying on the harls, and if tinsel be needed, that is tied on with the harl, and wound on over the body. Fig. 16 shows the complete fly, with tail, tinsel, and all complete. Various matters are used for bodies, as silk, wool, fur, &c. How to put on fur will be told in tying the salmon-fly.
The method of tying a salmon-fly is rather more complicated than that used in the trout-fly. Take a short piece of twisted gut or gimp, double it and lash it on so as to leave an eye at the head, as in fig. 17 (see fig. 17); then take a short fragment of tinsel or twist, and tie it on as shown; wind this round the bend of the hook two or three times; this forms the tag, and may be seen complete in fig. 18 (see fig. 18); over this tie on the tail composed of fibres or a topping, &c.., also shown in fig. 18 (see fig. 18); then tie in the silk or wool, or whatever the body is made with, also the tinsel, if needed; having tied it in, carry the silk on until the spot where the hackle is to commence is reached, then tie that in, and work the silk on to the shoulder. The result of these preparations is shown in fig. 18 (see fig. 18). Then wind on the silk or wool body evenly until it reaches the shoulder, when fasten it off; next, wind on the tinsel in even spirals, and fasten that off in the same way; next, the hackle, which may be stripped on one side, if it be required, thinly, or prepared by pressing the fibres together, so as to make them point as far as possible in the same direction. Having fastened off the hackle, the fly appears as in fig. 19 (see fig. 19). Then having carefully left a bit of the hook for the purpose, tie on the wing, which is composed of fibres or strips of feathers laid together. This is a nice operation, and requires a delicate but firm hand. After this, is it be needed, a head can be wound on over the stump of the wing, and for that purpose a fragment of chenille is the substance. A few turns of the silk fixes the loop and finishes off, and a touch of varnish secures it. The complete fly is shown in fig. 20. In using fur or pig's wool for a body, the long coarse fibres should be picked out and rejected; the rest should be pulled into fragments, and then laid in a small ridge along the palm of the hand and rolled over and over, as cigarette makers do their tobacco; and having obtained sufficient coherence it should be laid along the silk, and the silk being twirled round rapidly, is incorporated with the fur, which can then be wound on the hook to forth the body of the fly. Various colours may thus be employed in the same fly. (F. F.)
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The above article was written by Francis Francis, sportsman; joint editor of the Field; established the Thames Rights Defense Association; introduced trout into New Zealand rivers; author of A Book on Angling; By Lake and River; and The Practical Management of Fisheries.