New tiny gold and silver body fly minnows for trout and bass. 1. Neversink. 2. Willowemoc. 3. Esopus. 4. Beaverkill. 5. Battenkill. 6. Mongaup.
I should still have along with me artificials that will capture trout quite as well at any time during the entire season.
I am more convinced every season that small-sized lures are more effective for trout, such as the small darter, one and one-half and two inches long, or the little terror, same size. Both have captured fairly big fish many times. These small minnows when played dexterously round big boulders in rough water are very effective. Experts will recall how very often they find a big brown trout lying directly back of a large rock, with rushing water at each side of his quiet lair. A minnow run down that rapid water is bound to be taken with a savage dash.
Another useful point in these tiny baits, is that they are easier to cast to different spots and to get into difficult places. They are not easily entangled or lost on overhanging branches or under the logs we so often come across in the narrower places.
Before concluding this "how to use" chapter, I wish to emphasize the fact that each individual angler should independently endeavor to originate a method of his own and try to perfect it for himself, simply noting these suggestions as guides and hints - to elevate his recreation from the "catch-fish-anyhow method" to the higher, more perfect accord with nature, and to make his fishing a real art that will prove not only intensely interesting but reasonable and sane. For our own selfrespect, when we fail on flies, don't let us go and "dig worms" like the country kid, who knows nothing better. Reluctant as I am to compare existing methods, I know that even really expert fly-fishermen, upon finding trout unresponsive under certain conditions, are almost certain to have a reserve supply of the dirty garden-worm tucked away for such emergencies. The worm is all right for the plebeian pot-fisherman; but for the experienced expert a rather shameful comedown after which he cannot, without a blush, face his fellows.
I was fishing the lovely Esopus down-stream, having caught several nice fish and left many more that rose to my flies, when I was startled by the voice of a Scotch friend across the stream below me. It was a hot morning with low water, just before Decoration Day. Most of what I caught were taken early in the day. My friend, a real good fellow, rigged up with both clothing and tackle in the most expensive style: his cap covered over completely with artificial flies; he had the best of Leonard rods, and a very fine English reel and dry-fly line, to which at the end of his leader hung a bunch of big night-walker worms. "Had any luck?" he bawled across. "Yes; a few and several rose just above here!' "Well, I can't get 'em, with anything!" "You would," I replied, "if you fastened that cap of yours on the leader and take off that chunk of beefsteak; then there would be some chance to get trout." "Oh," said he, "I'm sick of casting and changing flies; I want to choke them with this." I have seen numberless examples of this same attitude - aside from the country worm-plugger - of many expert fly-fishermen, who, if unsuccessful with dry and wet flies, turn to what they term, "the inevitable worm," and that usually fails too.
It is this attitude which I wish to counteract with my nature lures by filling that void when trout refuse flies. In bygone days I did as the others do, "turned to worms," and failed; but now, with a selection of surface and bottom lures, when these adverse conditions arise, I can and do capture more and larger fish with the lures than I usually do with flies. As explained in almost every chapter of this book, the reason is obvious: trout are sometimes gorged with flies or feeding below on other food which my lures correctly imitate; not only in appearance, but in action; so that if they are used by this new method, success will be accomplished that would be impossible in other ways.
Before closing this chapter I would say for the benefit of amateurs that my suggested regulation outfit for trout fishing is somewhat ambiguous. Personal preference plays a great part in what is or can be spent on the outfit. I know of a fly-fisherman who pays one hundred dollars every season for a new Leonard rod built to order. Whether he needs a new one or not, he gets one. This, of course, to the prudent man of moderate means is pure wastefulness, and an incentive to breed reprehensible pride and boasting of our fishing-tools. After all, the rod, however splendid, is no attraction to the fish. They don't bite it, and a good all-round workmanlike rod of nine feet (more or less), weighing five or six ounces, if thoroughly well made for general use, at from twenty to fifty dollars, is a tool that will suffice for almost anything. One that while fishing needs no thought or worry as to breaking from being either too light or too heavy. The rigor of the game requires the rod to be a part of you, to do naturally just what you want of it. Indeed, a favorite rod in time becomes a sort of hobby, that to change for another would grieve us. For the small, light lures I use my best English "Hardy," tapered dry-fly line, which enormously facilitates casting much more so than a flat line of even thickness. For the larger lures and bottom fishing, casting, or trolling, I use a fine linen line, called the "Aviator," made by the Ashaway Co., Rhode Island.
Reels, like rods, are also personal - what you will. They should, however, fit the rod in weight and size, and should be free running, with a good click, and the barrel of ample size to hold the line. I use a take-apart bass reel for aviator line, and a Mills "Neversink" trout reel for the dry-fly line. If more expensive reels are required, the tackle dealer with a smiling face can furnish them.
The only gut leader worthy to fish with is one that is tapered, and snell attachments must be the same thickness of guts as that of the leader where tied, and all ties must be knots instead of loops.
Nevertheless, a true fact remains: the fish you desire to get are attracted, absolutely alone, by the lure you offer. The rest of the rig is incidental, and of less importance. You are absolutely certain to get fish with a good lure and gut leader, even if you use a pole cut from the forest and a ball of twine, though the sport may not be great, but you cannot get fish with a poor lure on the finest rod, reel, and line ever bought. Therefore, for sure success, first pay attention to the lure; make a good one yourself, or procure a selection that is good, and use a method that is sure, safe, and sane.