Fly Fishing

Piscifun fly fishing reels


First Published in Harper's Magazine - April 1885

If any one will look through the sides of an aquarium toward the surface of the water therein contained, that surface will appear like a sheet of polished silver, and totally opaque to vision. How, then, do fishes manage to see objects on land, as they unquestionably do? These experiments furnished a solution to this interesting question. Though the under surface of the water in the tank appeared totally opaque through the greater part of its extent, still almost directly overhead a circular area could be seen which was transparent. In this space the windows of houses two hundred feet distant were clearly visible. Its diameter was proportional to the water's depth as 20 is to 13. Any object ten inches above the water at ten feet distance was visible by refraction on its margin. But upon agitating the surface of the water, even to a small degree, the clear space was blotted out, and all vision of objects without the water was cut off, thus showing why a ripple exercises so potent an influence on the success of the angler.

One fact impressed itself deeply during these experiments, and that is that neither the angler nor the trout is anything like as acute as is generally supposed. The wiles of the former are by no means well concealed, nor are the latter so very quick to perceive them. The hook, unless very small, they can always see, and the leader when within a foot or two of it. Again and again did I then wonder how it was possible ever to deceive a fish so prompt to take alarm, by a humbug so apparent.

It will be necessary to pass by the other components of the angler's outfit, and proceed to the art of casting the fly.

This is an art difficult to acquire in perfection, though by no means so much so as is generally supposed. If a correct method be adopted at the outset, one hour's daily practice for two or three weeks will give a very considerable degree of proficiency.

Access to water is neither necessary nor desirable. A lawn or snow-field in the country, or a house-top in the city, will afford every required facility for practice.

Assuming the possession of the required implements, the next essential in learning to cast without a master is companionship. Thus one can rest and encourage the other, and each observe and coach his friend during his innings at the rod. In nothing does the old adage, "The outsider sees most of the game," more directly apply. Unconscious faults are instantly noted by "the coach," and brought to the attention of the caster, as well as the greater or less degree of success which may attend effort to correct them. Use a braided linen line, of the size designated by the letter E, for practice, without leader or flies.