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The Erne, Its Legends & Its Fly Fishing               Page 8

The whole of this tribe of flies is expensive, and that is their principal drawback; but the material of which they are almost entirely composed, the crest of the golden pheasant, is rare and difficult to procure.

Right: Jack the Giant Killer
Jack the Giant Killer

A cheap substitute for this class of flies may be thus made; yellow parrot-tail, yellow silk body, with a very full yellow hackle, mallard wings with two small yellow hackles tied in with them, and hanging loose over the back, macaw horns.
 
“It is strange that such things as this can catch a fish”, said the Squire, coming to the window to examine critically a yellow parson which M’Gowen had just turned out.  “What fly in the whole world is at all like this?  They say that the mixed wing is the dragon fly, and the butterfly the imitation of some possible butterfly; but this is like nothing in heaven or earth.  A Mussulman might paint it without offending against his Koran”.
 
“No”, said the Parson, “it is not like anything in heaven or earth; but it is very like something in the water; it is like a shrimp, which I imagine to be the food of the salmon when at sea; he comes into the river, is uncommonly at a loss for his usual dinner, when he sees a little dancing fellow with all these sharp-pointed wings, as we are pleased to call them, jumping about in the running water, and he thinks, of course, it is one of his old friends”.
 
“I should not wonder”, said the Squire.  “I am sure of it”, said the Parson.  “Remember how you fish with twenty yards of line out; nothing that you could do would keep your fly on the surface of the water, as you do keep your trout flies, which really are flies, and not shrimps.  You do not try to keep your salmon fly in such a position; half your line is in the water, and your fly six inches under it.  And think, too, how you fish a trout fly; you draw it across the stream quietly, but to your salmon rod you give a waving motion; and it is to enable you to do this without wearing a hole in your trousers, that the salmon rod is fitted with that found wooden button at the butt, instead of a spike.  And what effect do you suppose this motion has upon the fly?  It moves in a succession of jumps, like nothing whatever that has life, except a shrimp, but exactly like that.  Depend upon it, your fly is a shrimp”.
 
“I should not be surprised if you are right”, said the Squire.  “I was remarking the strange, like-like, jumping motions of my fly the other day, from the top of that rock at the Captain’s Throw, and was thinking that, though they were the motions of an animal, they were not the motions of a fly”.

 

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Jack the Giant Killer - Tied by Bob Frandsen, Pic Lorraine