It has become clear, from certain reviews of this booh, that when they discuss the question whether artificial flies should float or dip anglers are sometimes dealing with a confused problem. One reason why they cannot agree is that they have not clearly defined the proposition to be considered. Thus, " The Standard," unable to acquiesce unreservedly in the theory on the subject set forth in these pages, adopts Lord Granbys " contention that the best method is by fishing up stream with the dry-fly, and next to that fishing down stream with the wet one." Similarly, in " The Fishing Gazette," " Vol Conson" says that "if a wet-fly be offered to a trout, and he take it, it is almost impossible to keep so tight a line as to detect the rise by feel: it is generally quite impossible to see the rise until too late." Again: "There can be no doubt," says Mr. A. E. Gathorne - Hardy in " Country Life" "that it is often possible to catch plenty of fish in a dry-fly water fishing wet, if there is a strong down-stream wind, or when the fish are taking the hatching fly before it reaches the top, as Dr. Hamilton has noted and recorded; but . . . wet-fly fishing on a dry-fly stream is often forbidden, and always regarded as somewhat akin to poaching." These remarks indicate that there has been a misunderstanding as to what is meant by wet-flyfishing as mentioned in this volume. All the three writers who have been quoted seem to assume that by wet-fly fishing I mean casting to the other side of the water and allowing the flies to be borne downstream and across. In rapid waters a good many trout, most of them very small, may sometimes be caught on flies thus used; but in relation to trout of mature instinct the method is against the suggestions of Nature. As Mr. W. C. Stewart wrote many years ago, a fly that could swim across a heavy current, instead of being carried straight down the rapids, must seem to be a monster gifted with the strength of an elephant, not an insect to be lightly tampered with even by the rashest trout. In examining the dry-fly doctrine I did not think it needful to mention that such a mode of fishing as the "Practical Angler " ridiculed was not the basis of the alternative doctrine which I had in mind. Between dry-flyfishing and wet-flyfishing there is no such wide difference as that which is assumed by the reviewers whom I have cited. Indeed, in going to fish on an ordinary water, I should, in as far as my knowledge and agility enabled me, act pre-cisely as a dry-fly angler would. I should move up stream, keeping behind the trout, and as much as possible out of their range of sight; if the dry-fly man and I were agreed as to seasonable insects, I should use lures exactly the same in patterns and in textures as his own; I should cast over rising fish, and over any place in which one might be on the watch; and certainly I should not allow the lures to dip so far that I could not see a rise at one of them. What, then, is the difference between the dry-fly man and me? According to the canon of sport adopted by Mr. Gathorne-Hardy, it is very serious. Should a trout take one of my flies at the instant when the cast alighted on the stream, all would be well; but should the trout pause a second, allowing the fly to dip, and then take it, lo! I am a poacher! It is but right to mention that Mr. Gathorne-Hardy, in composing the article published in " Country Life," was confessedly in a mood to "grumble"; right, also, to acknowledge that it is not fair to take seriously at his literal word a gentleman who is, unhappily, out of harmony for the moment with his theme. Otherwise it would be necessary to conclude that the Dry Fly was a bee in the bonnet quite alarming in the effects of its buzz and hum.
Perhaps this explanation will narrow down the controversy as to dry-fly and dipping-fly to the exceedingly interesting questions which are really at issue. A few reviewers have shown a tendency to unbelief in my own solutions of those questions; but it is remarkable that not one of them has made any attempt to refute the reasonings, drawn from observation of nature, by which the solutions are supported. As the volume has been treated with great generosity by editors and reviewers, who have devoted much space to discussing it with critical though friendly interest, this omission can hardly be deemed due to a feeling that the question about floating-fly and dipping-fly is unimportant. Of course it is important. As flies are the lures for trout that are mainly used, it cannot but be an active question almost every hour of every day when one is out on stream or lake. It is, indeed, a question lying at the very heart of the craft of angling. That is why, though I kept the main discussion of it within a single chapter, it inevitably arose now and then, for a few words in passing, in other chapters. Naturally it must arise thus, alike in literature and in holiday life on stream or lake, as long as there are authoritative sportsmen in the judicial prime of life ready to cry " Poacher! " at you unless you oil your flies or take some other means to keep them steadfastly afloat.
At the obliging suggestion of Mr. Marston, Editor of " The Fishing Gazette," a list of the dressings of the lures depicted in the Book of Flies is added to this volume.
It is a relief to find that the brief digressions from what is strictly the subject of the essay have not been much resented. Only "The Standard" and "Amateur Angler" found difficulty in enduring them. "None of your Scotch metaphysics !" exclaimed " The Standard," quoting George III. It would require more than metaphysic wit to perceive how Scotch metaphysics differ from any other; and " The Standard's" banter can scarcely be thought to derive much lustre from its royal origin, which was not conspicuously distinguished by wit of any nationality. Can it be that the quip is an unconscious evidence of some truth underlying the foreigner's suspicion that the average Anglo-Saxon is constitutionally resentful of anything that looks like an unfamiliar idea ?