Fly Fishing

Piscifun fly fishing reels


First Published in Harper's Magazine - April 1885

But at least three of our native silk-worms greatly exceed the Chinese worm in the quantity of silk they secrete, while the quality is not a whit inferior, at least for this purpose. That known as the Attacus cecropia produces the largest quantity of silk of any, and that of great strength.Its habitat is co-extensive with the United States. It is indifferent to the vicissitudes of our climate, and will flourish anywhere in the open air. It is an omnivorous feeder, and as "easy to raise to maturity as young ducks or chickens." This worm grows to over four inches in length, and as thick as a working-man's thumb; and finally from it gut has actually been drawn "eight or nine feet long, and strong enough to hold a salmon,....quite round, and all that an angler could desire," as I am informed by the maker, the revered Dr. Theodatus Garlick, the father of fish-culture in this country. The Attacus prometheus, and the A. polyphemus, though inferior in size to the cecropia, are far better adapted to this purpose than the Chinese worms. The proper food for all of these worms grows everywhere, and in the greatest abundance. It may also be remarked that they are free from the diseases incident to long domestication, while the Chinese worm has as many ailments as a horse. The Japanese worm, which feeds on the ailanthus, is now acclimated and occasionally found wild in this country, and is also available for gut-making, both from the large quantity and the great strength of the silk it secretes.

Here, it is hoped, is opportunity for a new industry in this country, one well adapted to those who from sex or other causes are unfitted for severe manual labor, yet to whom some means of livlihood are necessary. At present we are obliged to put up with Spanish gut. At least twenty per cent. of this is imperfect, with scarcely any two strands in a bundle of uniform thickness, and seldom exceeding fifteen inches in length. If we may judge from the past, with American ingenuity to conduct this manufacture, soon the angler would be able to order gut of a certain number, and receive an article perfectly round, of any desired length, and each strand of uniform thickness from one end to the other - the number as invariably indicating the diameter as a like designation now indicates that of metal wire.

That the connection between the line and the flies - the leader - be if possible absolutely invisible to the fish, is of the first importance.

To determine to what extent and how this might best be accomplished, the writer conducted a series of experiments in the open air, extending over months; and including all hours of the day and all conditions of weather. For this purpose a tank filled with water was used, provided with a glass plate where the bototm joined one end. Whie the experiments were in progress all light was excluded except such as entered through the surface of the water. Lack of space must restrict us solely to an enumeration of a few of the results thus obtained.

It was at once apparent that the appearance of a line or leader on or in the water, when viewed from above the surface, gave little or no indication of its visibility or invisibility when seen from below. In clear water, with a vertical sun, nothing was less obtrusive than uncolored gut; but with an oblique sun it shone like silver, and was as conspicuous as a chalk mark on a blackboard. In the afternoon or evening a neutral tint, not too dark in tone, gave the best result. In brown water the conditions were quite reversed. There the darker the leader, the less conspicuous it was. A coffee-color was expected to excel in such water, but this was found by no means to be the case. Whether the sky was clear or overcast made far less difference than anticipated.