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ISC. 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, 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 I can.

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.

Dovedale from
Thorpe Cloud

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Of fly-fishing.


ISC. 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 camlet-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 air be still; or with a longer very near, or all out, as long as your rod, if you have any wind to carry it from you. 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 show 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 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 come to the second way of angling at the top, which is with an artificial fly, which also I will show you how to make before I have done, but first shall acquaint you, that with this you are to angle with a line longer by a yard and a half, or sometimes two yards, than your rod; and with

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