This section is from the book "Frank Forrester's Fishermens' Guide", by Frank Forrester.
Fishing rods are now usually made from the bam boo, the Calcutta reed, or of ash wood, as it is neces sary they should be made light, tough, and pliable The butts are frequently made of maple, with bored bottom; and this butt will outlast several tops. Rods for travellers are made in joints, so as to be easily transported. The cost of rods at the tackle stores is $1 50 and $2 50 up to $5 for ordinary ones; and $10, $15, $20, and even as high as $50 for the best and most scientific articles. Some of them are made to be used as a walking canes until needed for sport. A perfect rod should gradually taper from end to end, fee tight in all its joints, and be equally and uniformly pliable, not bending in one place more than another. The different lengths of rods required in fishing are mentioned in describing the tackle used in catching different fish. It is therefore only necessary to say that they vary from 12 to 20 feet in length.
Some sportsmen do not consider reels necessary but this is because they have either never used them, or never had a good article. American made reels are now considered the best in the market, particularly for taking large fish. The smaller English reel will do very well for trout fishing. There are two kinds, viz.: the plain reel, and the multiplying reel. Some prefer the former; but the multiplying reel saves a good deal of time, and is easily worked when you get accustomed to it. Reels are made of brass, and of German silver. Either article is as good as the other.
Lines are made of India grass, of silk alone, silk and hair, of hemp, of flax, and of cotton. Gut lines are also made, but are not easily managed. The best trout lines are made of India grass, though silk, or silk and hair are frequently used in trout fishing. Trout lines are usually from eight to eighteen yards long, and of various degrees of fineness according to the size of the fish angled for, or clearness of the stream. Salmon, bass, and pickerel lines are made from hemp, flax, silk, grass or hair, and vary in length from 30 to 150 yards. Cotton and hemp lines are made for trolling purposes, and for fishing sea-fish generally. The length of these will vary according to the condition or depth of your fishing grounds. The size of all lines should vary according to the state of the streams or size of your fish. Clear streams require as small lines as will answer the purpose. If you have a good multiplying reel, the line shou'l be as long as the reel will carry.
The old Kirby hook is now generally superseded by the Limerick, which is considered the best fish hook made. We subjoin the different sizes and numbers, which will be hereafter referred to in these pages. In cases where we have recommended the Kirby, you will find the size of that hook to correspond exactly with the numbers of the Limerick. The trout hook is used for the small fry, while the salmon hook is attached to the tackle for catching that fish, and also other large lake and river fish, weak-fish, etc.
Limerick Trout Hook.
Limerick Salmon Hook.
Besides the regular Limerick and Kirby hooks, whose sizes and numbers correspond with the foregoing plates, we have given on the cover of this work a plate of "black-fish hooks," of different patterns and sizes for bottom fishing - also pickerel hooks, the snap-spring hook, etc, with numbers and explanations. You should examine the point and barb of each hook to see that it is perfect, and file it if it is not. Always have a small file with you.
Sinkers and Swivels.
The ordinary plain sinker is made of lead, shaped round like a pipe-stem, and swelling out in the middle. There are loops of brass wire on either end to attach the line. The weight is from a quarter of an ounce for trout fishing up to a couple of pounds or more for sea bass and porgies. The swivel sinker is similar to the plain one, except that instead of loops, there are swivels on each end to attach the line. This is a decided improvement, as it prevents the line from twisting and tangling. In trolling, swivel sinkers are indispensable. The slide sinker, for bottom fishing, is a leaden tube which allows the line to slip through it, when the fish bites. This is an excellent arrangement, inasmuch as you feel the smallest bite, whereas in the other case the fish must first move the sinker before you feel him. Split shot are sometimes put on trout lines in place of a sinker. Independent swivels are useful in some kinds of fishing to prevent the entanglement of your line.
The silk-worm gut is almost imperceptible in water, and for leaders therefore is the best possible substance. The gut is taken from the worm just as it is ready to spin, and its size varies with the size of the insect, some being as fine as a horse-hair, and others ten times that size. The strands are usually from nine inches to two feet in length, and are just suited o leaders. The tackle stores supply these leaders, with hooks fastened to them, and with loops ready to attach to your line. The best gut leaders are of Spanish manufacture. Leaders of twisted horse-hair, or of grass, are used when gut cannot be obtained, but they should be made as light as possible.
A very light float should be used for trout if you use any at all. It is made from quills or cork. For pickerel, salmon, bass, etc, you should get floats made from hollow red cedar, which are very light and appropriate. Cork will answer if you cannot procure the cedar.
Nets for landing your fish, nets for carrying bait, gaff-hooks, and clearing rings are among the "tools" of the angler, and can be procured at the tackle stores. They are sometimes very useful. The gaff-hook is used to land your fish in cases where the landing net is impracticable. It is a large hook fastened to a hickory handle. The clearing ring is a stout ring to encircle your line, and send down and clear it. It opens with a hinge, and weighs five to eight ounces.