Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle
How to Fly Fish
Installment No. 2
|In the mid to late 1400's the first known instruction manual
on the art of fly fishing was published, "Treatyse of Fysshynge with
an Angle'. The work is generally attributed to Dame Juliana Berners. The
text includes instructions on how to make a rod, line, hooks, instructions
for twelve fly patterns and hints about how to catch the common varieties
Last month we published the introduction and how to build a rod. So far none of our customers have provided examples of their finished work. This month we're going to deal with fishing lines. Hopefully, everyone has access to a white horse.
"After you have made your rod, you must learn to colour your lines
of hair this way. First, you must take, from the tail of a white horse,
the longest and best hairs that you can find; and the rounder it is, the
better it is. Divide it into six bunches, and you shall colour every part
by itself in a different colour. As yellow, green, brown, tawny, russet,
and dusky colours.
Now you must make your lines in this way. First, see that you have an
instrument like the one shown in the following picture. Then take your
hair and cut off from the small end a large handful or more, for it is
neither strong nor yet sure. Then turn the top to the tail each in equal
amount, and divide it into three parts. Then plait each part at the one
end by itself. And at the other end plait all three together: and put
this same end in the other end of your instrument, the end that has but
one cleft. And make the other end tight with the wedge four fingers from
the end of your hair. Then twist each strand the same way and pull it
tight: and fasten them in the three clefts equally well. Then take out
that other end and twist it whichever way it goes best. Then stretch it
a little and plait it so that it will not come undone: and that is good.
And to know how to make your instrument, see, here it is in a picture.
And it shall be made of wood, except the bolt underneath; which must be
When you have as many of the lengths as you suppose will suffice for the length of a line, then you must tie them together with a water knot or else a duchess knot. And when your knot is tied, cut off the unused ends a straw's breadth from the knot. Thus you will make your lines fair and fine, and also completely secure for any type of fish. And because you should know both the water knot and also the duchess knot, behold them here in picture. Tie them in the likeness of the drawing."