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Fishing Rods And Fly Fishing

For a trout rod, to have a good balance from the butt to the extreme

top, it is essentially necessary that the wood should be well-seasoned,

straight in the grain, and free from knots and imperfections. It should

consist of three or four joints, according to fancy. There is not the

least occasion for a rod to be glued up in pieces first, and then cut

into lengths and fitted with ferrules, for then you have the unnecessary

/> trouble of lapping the splices, but it is best to clean each piece

separately, and measure the exact taper each piece should be to one

another with the ferrules to fit in the same proportion, the least thing

wider at the lower end than at the top; the ends to be bored for the

tongues to fit into tightly to prevent shaking, that when they are

double brazed they may fit air-tight.

The ends must be bored previous to planing down the substance of the

pieces, and tied round with waxed thread to prevent them from opening or

cracking, so that these pieces may be pushed into each end of the

boring whilst the rod is planed up to its proper substance or size,

except the tops, which should be well glued-up pieces of bamboo cane,

and filed down to their proper sizes to suit the other parts of the rod;

this may be also done by fastening the tongue of the top in the bored

joint next in size. The butt should be made of ash, the middle piece of

hickory, and the top of bamboo, which is the lightest and toughest of

all woods that can be brought to so fine a consistency. The length of

the rod for single-hand fly fishing should be from twelve to thirteen

feet long--a length which may be used with great facility without tiring

the arm. The butt should be easy in the grasp and not a great deal of

timber in it; the next piece to be nearly as stout as the butt above the

ferrule for a foot and a half, this prevents its being weak at that

particular part, which otherwise would cause the rod to be limber in the

middle; the next or fourth piece to be stiffer and lighter in the wood

to keep up the top; the whole rod to stand nearly straight up when held

in the hand, and to have a smart spring above, which assists materially

in getting out the line when throwing. The splices of the tops should

be tightly bound over with the finest silk, well waxed, and over all

three or four coats of good varnish that is not liable to crack. You

cannot bind the splices tight enough with coarse three-cord silk, the

top being so small it cannot be drawn together near so well as with fine

silk, and when the varnish rubs off it opens and admits the water, which

loosens the glued splice inside. The fine waxed silk is to be preferred

by all means, as it lies closer on the wood, becomes harder, and makes

the splice stiffer to work with the other parts.

When the whole is ringed, ferruled, and fitted for the reel complete, it

should not (a twelve foot) exceed one pound; it will afford great

comfort to the fly fisher in his innocent pursuit, and will not fatigue

him during a long summer day. The reel should be light, in proportion to

the rod, and to contain thirty yards of silk and hair line made fine and

taper, and when the rod is grasped in the hand a little way above the

reel, the balance should be the same above the hand as below it, so that

it may be used with the greatest ease.

The beautiful rent and glued-up bamboo-cane fly rods, which I turn out

to the greatest perfection, are very valuable, as they are both light

and powerful, and throw the line with great facility. The cane for these

rods must be of the very best description, or they will not last any

time. They will last for years if properly made, and of course the

fisher must take care of them; they are best when made into pocket rods,

in eight joints, with all the knots cut out, and the good pieces between

each knot rent and glued up; these may be had in my shop of as good a

balance as a three-joint rod, most superbly made of the lightest

brazings. They make capital perch and roach rods with a bait top added

to the extra fly top, with bored butt to hold all. These rods can be

made to suit a lady's hand for either boat or fly fishing.

The salmon rod should be made in four pieces or joints. The butt of the

best long grained solid ash, the wood of which is not so heavy as

hickory, and is not liable to break at the ferrule, that is, if the

ferrule is put on "flush," without letting it into the wood by scoring

it; the piece above the butt, and the joint next the top, should be of

the very best well-seasoned hickory, without crack or flaw; the tops to

be made of the best yellow bamboo cane, either rent and glued up in

three pieces, or spliced in short lengths with the knots cut away; the

first joint to be nearly as stout as the substance of the wood above the

ferrule as the end of the butt for a foot and a half, to prevent the rod

being limber in the middle; the next joint that holds the top should be

very smart, and come up at a touch when bent with the hand, and the

extreme lightness of the cane top prevents all appearance of its being

top-heavy, which cannot be prevented with lance-wood, unless it is made

very fine indeed, and then it becomes useless. The length of the rod

should not exceed seventeen or eighteen feet long, and for light rivers,

sixteen feet is quite long enough; if the angler fly fishes for salmon

from a boat, fourteen feet will be sufficient, made, of course, very

powerful throughout, as in some large rivers a salmon will take the fly

close to the boat in strong and deep streams. The rings should be pretty

large, to admit of the line running freely, and the joints double

brazed, which prevents the bare wood of the tongues twisting off when

the rod is taken to pieces after a day's fishing, particularly when they

get wet. The reel fittings should be about a foot and a half, or say

twenty inches from the extreme end, that there may be room for the left

hand to grasp it easily below the reel, which prevents the rod hanging

heavy on the arms, and will balance it much better than having the reel

too near the end of the butt. When the salmon rod is bent after playing

a fish, it can be easily straightened by turning it when the next fish

is hooked, and allow the line to run through the rings on the top of the

rod; by holding it in that position, you can see how you are winding up

the line on the reel, and regulate it according as the fish runs towards

you, for if the reel is held underneath when the fish is on, if he runs

towards you, it cannot be seen whether the line runs on in a lump or

not, which, if it does, often causes it to stop, and may occasion the

loss of your fish.

The most essential and nicest point of all is in casting the line and

trout flies neatly on the water, which, when properly accomplished in a

masterly way, will be the greatest means towards the success of the fly

fisher in hooking and catching his fish. In the first place, the fisher

should keep as far off the water as possible when throwing next his own

side, and make it a rule, whenever he can, to angle on the bank from

which the wind blows, as it will enable him to throw the flies across to

the opposite bank, and play them gently down the stream in a slanting

direction towards him, moving backwards as they approach his side,

drawing them up along the bank if the stream is any ways deep, as a

trout of good size is often lying in such a place when undisturbed, as

you fish cautiously down.

The line should not be let off the reel too fast when you begin to

throw, that the stream may be carefully covered near you, and as you

move along let it off so as to cover the whole of the water. Hold the

rod firmly above the reel in the right hand, and take hold of the end of

the casting line in the left, give it a motion towards your left

shoulder, and over the head with a circle to the full length of the

flies behind you, and with a spring of the rod and motion of the arm

bring them right before you on to the stream, as straightly and lightly

as possible, and by this method you will prevent them whipping off

behind in a very short time; allow the line always to stretch to its

full length behind, and keep them on the move, with the backward sweep

of the rod round the head propel them forward to the place you desire

they should fall, and I do not doubt that you will make neither splash

nor ripple on the surface. And when a fish makes a rise, move the rod

upwards with a gentle pull, which is better than striking hard, as the

small hook is easily driven, and there is no occasion to break the hold

or line. Never hold too hard on a large fish, but let him run if he

will, a small one may be landed immediately. By no means attempt to go

"an angling" without a landing net, as there may be danger in losing

your fish, after having the trouble or sport of playing him a long time,

and the bank high on your side. I have been always in the habit of

fishing down the stream, throwing my flies slantingly to the opposite

bank, and letting them fall gradually with the current, and walking

slowly along lifting and throwing them at my leisure--it is all fancy

whether up or down you go, so as it is well done--what you have

habituated yourself to in fly fishing in general, that do. Keep your

shadow as much as possible off the water, and when you land your fish

let his head drop into the net first, and his whole weight will follow,

lift him clean up on the bank with a pull of the net towards you, as

this prevents him dropping out.