Contemplating the great variety of the flies which any first-class maker of tackle can provide, one is lost in amazement at the diligence and the skill which have gone towards equipment for the sport. Who discovered all the insects which are figured in these little structures of feather, fur, tinsel, silk, and steel ? Some of those to whom the craft is altogether strange might question whether in nature there are so many different insects as a well-stocked book of flies silently affirms. Noticing the wealth of colour, the differences of shape, and the minute individualities of texture, they might suppose that, instead of having been content to copy nature, the makers of tackle had been inventing things in the hope that novelties would captivate the trout. That would be misjudging. Even if it be a wondrous blend of red, black, yellow, green or blue, and gold, every one of these things has its living prototype. The only difference is that the creatures of nature are even more beautiful, in some cases more brilliant, in others more delicately neutral, than the creatures of man. Undoubtedly, to those who have eyes to see and diligence to seek, Nature will show the realities. Most of them are born in the neighbourhood of lake or stream; some among the reeds, others in the bushes or the overhanging trees, many on the bed of the water; all of them, as far as one can perceive, though shrikes and swallows do not disdain them, are designed to be food for trout.
Beautiful we have called them and their images. Why are these things beautiful ? That is a question in the philosophy of art; and the answer has truth not for the angler only but also for every man or woman who has a sensibility which gives the word beautiful a meaning. There is not anything which is beautiful in itself. A thing of beauty derives its characteristic quality from its relation to consciousness, a present desire or a memory of pleasure. This is the spirit of all the arts. A beautiful picture, whether its subject be a landscape or a human face, is beautiful because it awakes in us either a sense of our own actual or possible happiness, or the memory of a happiness that is gone. So it is with music, which, although some are strangely insensible to its appeal, as strangely strikes in others chords of association that cannot be traced to any source in this life: music, indeed, is sometimes as a miracle among the arts. So it is with literature : in that domain an achievement having the quality of beauty is a composition in which the artist, while in words which live expressing his own mind on a pleasant theme, makes the mind of another vibrate with a consciousness of pleasure which is, or has been, or yet may be, the others own. All art lives on association of ideas, and joyous emotions recalled in serenity are an enchantment into the mood of art. That is why the contents of the tackle-book are beautiful. They are associated with past delights, and they suggest delights to come. Looking at them, one can in imagination hear the soft swish of the south-west wind among the sedges and inhale the refreshing perfume of the meadows. Indeed, the memory and the hope of angling bestow upon a rural scene in which there is a lake, or through which there flows a river, a charm that it cannot have for those who have not experienced the sport. To these the lake is a fine sheet of water, out of which a fortune could be made by the owner if there were a large town not far off; and the river has potent falls, which, if they were near enough, could be used to produce a new system of electric lighting for the whole of London. To the fisherman thoughts much more bracing are suggested. He notes the character of the stream : how attractive are its alternations of rapids, deeps, and gravelly pools ! He notes that there is a steady breeze upon the lake : perhaps it is well stocked, and how delightful it would be if one were afloat on it and a well-thrown fly brought a game fish dashing with a flash through the wave! Even though it is to Town and toil again that one is hastening on the railroad, the scene sensibly cheers the journey.