A Catechism Of Fly-making


Question. What do you mean by Fly-making?

Answer. I mean the artificial assimilation of those beautiful insects

that appear on brooks and rivers during the summer season.

Q. What are these artificial flies used for in general?

A. They are principally used to afford gentlemen rural amusement and

recreation, by their taking both trou
and salmon with the rod, line,

and fly.

Q. Name the different materials requisite for making the Artificial


A. The necessary materials for making the Artificial Fly are as

follows:--various kinds of feathers, furs, mohair, pig hair, dyed

hackles, silks, tinsel, &c., &c.

Q. When the tyro has all the materials prepared, and seated at the

table, how does he commence to make the fly?

A. First, the hook is firmly tied on the gut, and one eighth of an

inch of the end of the shank left bare to receive the wings (see plate,

hook, gut, and tail, tied on).

Q. How are the wings tied on?

A. They may be tied on the reverse way first, at the extreme end of

the shank, and after the tail, body, and legs are formed, turn up the

wings, divide and tie them down, and form the head.

Q. Is there any other way of placing on the wings of a trout fly?

A. Yes, by forming the tail, body, and legs first, and tie on the

wings last.

Q. Having the wings the reverse way, to appear in strict proportion

over the fly when turned, what is the next part to be performed?

A. Next, I take hold of the shank opposite the barb in my left, and

here tie on a short piece of tinsel for the tip, roll it over two or

three times evenly, and secure it with a running knot, immediately above

this tie on the tail.

Q. When the wings are tied on reversed, the tip and tail secured, how

do you form the body?

A. I take hold of the hook in my left hand close to the tail, and

with my right draw out a small quantity of mohair, twist it round the

tying silk close to the hook, draw it gradually full under the fingers

to taper it, I then roll it closely over the shank to the root of the

wings and fasten it. Leave a vacancy to receive the hackle if rolled on

at the shoulder.

Q. If there is not sufficient mohair twisted on the silk to form the

whole body, what must be done?

A. When the mohair on the silk becomes short, I tie it down on the

centre of the shank, and tie in the point of the hackle here (see the

second and third flies in the plate of this process), and apply a little

more stuff to fill the shoulder, leaving a little of the hook to receive

the wings.

Q. Having tied the hackle on towards the shoulder of the fly, how do

you strike it in its proper place?

A. I hold the hook in my left hand by the bend, and with the right

take hold of the stem of the hackle and roll it round the shank on its

back, and tie it down (the fly may be ribbed and hackled from the tail

like the fourth fly in the plate).

Q. The hackle, body, tail, and tinsel now neatly tied, how do you tie

on the wings?

A. I now hold the fly in my left hand by the body, drawing the fibres

underneath my finger and thumb out of the way, lay on the wings double,

catch them under the nails of the left and give two laps of the tying

silk over them, press them down at this place with the right nail divide

and let the fibres of the hackle spring up between them, cut off the

roots, lap the silk closely over the head and fasten with two knots (see

the cock tail at the bottom of this plate).

Note. The wings of this fly were tied on first,

as seen, and turned up last; the fuller the fly is

at the shoulder the more the wings will stand

upright on the back, and it often occurs that

when the wings of the fly lie flat on the back,

and it happens to be an end fly on the casting

line, which is usually under the surface of the

water, that the fish takes it for a drowned fly

eagerly, and the wings much longer than the bend

of the hook, this is not unnatural, as the wings

of numbers of the brown and olive flies seen on

the water have their wings much longer than the

body, and when not on the wing lie flat on their


I will here give a more easy way of making a Trout fly.

Q. How do you commence to make the Fly in this way?

A. I tie on the wings first, turn them up, tie down the head, and

finish the fly at the tail.

Q. When the wings are tied on first, and turned before you commence

the body and legs, how do you proceed?

A. I take a small hackle to suit the size of the hook, strip off the

flue, and tie it on by the root at the head, and a piece of tinsel to

rib the body.

Q. Having tied on the hackle thus, what is the next thing to be


A. I draw out a little mohair, twist it tightly round the tying silk,

roll it down to the tail and fasten it, and roll the tinsel over in like


Q. The body and tinsel being formed, how is the hackle struck on?

A. I take hold of the hackle in my right hand with either my fingers

or pliers, and roll it over the body to the tail, fasten and cut off the

ends, tie in a tail and the fly is complete. This is the style of the

fifth fly in the plate.

Q. When a fly is to be made in the above way without wings, called a

hackle fly, how is it done?

A. Having previously tied, I take two hackles of equal size, lay them

even together, and tie them on by the roots at the end of the shank, and

then the piece of tinsel to rib it.

Q. How do you form the body and tinsel after tying on the hackles?

A. I twist a very small quantity of mohair round the silk and roll it

to the tail, or a peacock's harl, and fasten it there, over this I roll

the tinsel.

Q. As the hackles are a nice point to perform, how are they struck?

A. I take hold of the hackles with the pliers at the points, both to

stand the one way, give two rolls round the shoulder to make it full,

and proceed with them slantingly on their backs to the tail, let the

pliers hang with them and roll the tying silk twice over them, cut off

the superfluous fibres of the hackles, take two running knots, and lay

on a little varnish to harden the tying, press down the hackles with the

fingers to slope them towards the tail, and the fly is completed.

Q. When you wish to make a larger Salmon Fly, how do you undertake


A. I tie on the hook and gut firmly together, as in Plate I, ON

SALMON HOOKS, take hold of it by the shank opposite the barb, roll on a

piece of broad tinsel to tip it, tie on a topping for tail, with a black

ostrich tag.

Q. Having gone thus far, how do you manage the pig hair body?

A. Having laid before me two or three colours of pig hair, I roll a

piece of fine floss silk on first next the tail, I then twist a piece of

pig hair on the silk, roll it up towards the head, shifting up a little

and tie, take another piece of hair, and another, and do in like manner

(see the pig hair body of No. 2, ON SALMON HOOKS).

Q. How is the hackle struck on over the body?

A.-Having held the fly by the shank to form the body, I now turn it

and hold it by the bend, the hackle and tinsel previously tied in, as in

Plate II, ON SALMON HOOKS, I roll the tinsel up first and the hackle

next in rotation with it; Plate V. will show the tinsel rolled over the

floss silk body, and the hackle ready to roll on.

Q. Having rolled on the hackle, and turned a jay hackle over the

shoulder, how do you proceed with the wing?

A. I take two golden pheasant neck feathers and tie them on tightly

first, then sprig them at each side with various fibres of feathers (see

the wing in the plate prepared).

Q. How do you cover the lump occasioned by the quantity of tying silk

at the head?

A. I draw out a small quantity of pig hair, twist it on the tying

silk, and roll it over two or three times towards the root of the wings

tightly, give three knots, lay on a little varnish, cut off the silk,

and the fly is finished.

Note. If you make a pike fly, use large double hooks and gymp, with

broad tinsel, and make the body full with pig hair, large saddlecock

hackles for legs, wing them with peacock moon feathers, and add two

large blue beads over spangles for eyes, and green or red pig hair

towards the head. Fasten on the beads with fine copper wire, rolling it

over the head two or three times, and also three times through the eyes,

and tie down the wire tightly with the silk; roll the pig hair round the

silk and then over the head and between the beads, fasten it with three

knots, and lay on the varnish.

These large artificial flies kill pike or jack best on windy days with

rain; they will not rise at the fly on fine days, except there is a

strong ripple on the water. You humour the fly on the surface as you

would move a salmon one, using a strong rod, reel, and line. If he is a

large fish, he will rush off with the fly when hooked; but, if a small

one, lift him out when he makes a double quick shake on the top of the

water. I would advise the fisher to strike a jack quickly, for he often

throws the fly out of his mouth when he finds the deception.