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which are the Matadores for Trout and Grayling, and, in their season, kill more fish in our Derbyshire rivers, than all the rest past, and to come, in the whole year besides.
But first I am to tell you, that we have four several flies which contend for the title of the May-fly, namely,
The Black-fly, and
The Little Yellow May-fly.
And all these have their champions and advocates to dispute, and plead their priority; though I do not understand why the two last-named should; the first two having so manifestly the advantage, both in their beauty, and the wonderful execution they do in their season.
11. Of these, the Green-drake comes in about the twentieth of this month, or betwixt that and the latter end; for they are sometimes sooner, and sometimes later, according to the quality of the year; but never well taken till towards the end of this month, and the beginning of June. The Stone-fly comes much sooner, so early as the middle of April; but is never well taken till towards the middle of May, and continues to kill much longer than the Green-Drake stays with us, so long as to the end almost of June; and indeed, so long as there are any of them to be seen upon the water; and sometimes in an artificial fly, and late at night, or before sun-rise in a morning, longer.
Now both these flies, and, I believe, many others, though I think not all, are certainly and demonstratively bred'in the very rivers where they are taken; our Cadis or Cod-bait, which lie under stones in the bottom of the water, most of them turning into those two flies, and being gathered in the husk, or crust, near the time of their maturity, are very easily known and distinguished, and are of all other the most remarkable, both for their size, as being of all other the biggest, the shortest of them being a full inch long, or more, and for the execution they do, the Trout and Grayling being much more greedy of them than of any others; and indeed, the Trout never feeds fat, nor comes into his perfect season till these flies come in.
Of these, the Green-Drake never discloses from his husk, till he be first there grown to full maturity, body, wings, and all; and then he creeps out of his cell, but with his wings so crimped, and ruffled, by being pressed together in that narrow room, that they are, for some hours, totally useless to him; by which means he is compelled either to creep upon the flags, sedges, and blades of grass, if his first rising from the bottom of the water be near the banks of the river, till the air and sun stiffen and smooth them: or if his first appearance above water happen to be in the middle, he then lies upon the surface of the water like a ship at hull; for his feet are totally useless to him there, and he cannot creep upon the water as the Stonefiy can, until his wings have got stiffness to fly with, if by some Trout or Grayling, he be not taken in the interim, which ten to one he is, and then his wings stand high, and closed exact upon his back, like the Butterfly, and his motion in flying is the same. His body is, in some, of a paler, in others, of a darker yellow; for they are not all exactly of a colour, ribbed with rows of green, long, slender, and growing sharp towards the tail, at the end of which he has three long small whisks of a very dark colour, almost black, and his tail turns up towards his back like a Mallard; from whence, questionless, he has his name of the Green-Drake. These, as I think I told you before, we commonly dape, or dibble with; and having gathered great store of them into a long draw box, with holes in the cover to give them air, where also they will continue fresh and vigorous a night or more, we take them out thence by the wings, and bait them thus upon the hook. We first take one, for we commonly fish with two of them at a time, and putting the point of the hook into the thickest part of his body under one of his wings, run it directly through, and out at the other side, leaving him spitted cross upon the hook, and then taking the other, put him on after the same manner, but with his head the contrary way; in which posture they will live upon the hook, and play with their wings for a quarter of an hour, or more; but you must have a care to keep their wings dry, both from the water, and also that your fingers be not wet when you take them out to bait them; for then your bait is spoiled.
Having now told you how to angle with this fly alive; I am now to tell you next, how to make an artificial fly, that will so perfectly resemble him, as to be taken in a rough, windy day when no flies can lie upon the water; nor are to be found about the banks and sides of the river, to a wonder, and with which you shall certainly kill the best Trout and Grayling in the river.
The artificial Green-Drake, then, is made upon a large hook; the dubbing, Camel's hair,brightBear's hair, the soft down that is combed from a Hog's bristles, and yellow Camlet well mixed together, the body long, and ribbed about with green silk, or rather yellow, waxed with green wax, the whisks of the tail, of the long hairs of Sables, or Fitchet, and the wings of the white-gray feather of a Mallard, dyed yellow, which also is to be dyed thus.
Take the root of a Barbary-tree, and shave it, and put to it Woody Viss, with as much Alum as a Walnut, and boil your feathers in it with Rain-water; and they will be of a very fine yellow.
I have now done with the Green-Drake, excepting to tell you, that he is taken at all hours during his season, whilst there is any day upon the sky 3 and with a made fly I once took, ten days after he was absolutely gone, in a cloudy day, after a shower, and in a whistling wind, five and thirty very great Trouts and Graylings, betwixt five and eight of the clock in the evening, and had no less than five or six flies, with three good hairs a-piece, taken from me in despite of my heart, besides.
12. I should now come next to the Stone-fly, but there is another gentleman in my way, that must of necessity come in between; and that is the GrayDrake, which in all shapes and dimensions, is perfectly the same with the other, but quite almost of another colour; being of a paler, and more livid yellow, and green, and ribbed with black quite down his body, with black, shining wings, and so diaphanous and tender, cobweb like, that they are of no manner of use for daping; but come in, and are taken after the Green-Drake, and in an artificial fly kill very well, which fly is thus made: the dubbing of the down of a Hog's bristles, and black Spaniel's fur, mixed, and ribbed down the body with black silk, the whisks of the hairs of the beard of a black Cat, and the wings of the blackgray feather of a Mallard.
And now I come to the Stone-fly, but am afraid I have already wearied your patience, which if I have, I beseech you freely tell me so, and I will defer the remaining instructions for Fly-Angling till some other time.
Viat. No truly, Sir, 1 can never be weary of hear