“The great point, then, in fly-dressing, is to make the artificial fly resemble the natural insect in shape, and the great characteristic of all river insects is extreme lightness and neatness of form. Our great objection to the flies in common use is, that they are much too bushy; so much so, that there are few to be got in the tackle-shops which we could use with any degree of confidence in clear water. Every possible advantage is in favour of a lightly-dressed fly; it is more like a natural insect ; it falls lighter on the water, and every angler knows the importance of making his fly fall gently, and there being less material about it, the artificial nature of that material is not so easily detected; and also, as the hook is not so much covered with feathers, there is a much better chance of hooking a trout when it rises. We wish to impress very strongly upon the reader the necessity of avoiding bulky flies”

an excerpt from W.C. Stewart’s infamous The Practical Angler  1857

brave and authoritative statement to say the least, any thoughts ?

thanks to Dennis Shaw for reminding me of this quote.

7 thoughts on ““The great point, then, in fly-dressing, is to make the artificial fly resemble the natural insect in shape, and the great characteristic of all river insects is extreme lightness and neatness of form. Our great objection to the flies in common use is, that they are much too bushy; so much so, that there are few to be got in the tackle-shops which we could use with any degree of confidence in clear water. Every possible advantage is in favour of a lightly-dressed fly; it is more like a natural insect ; it falls lighter on the water, and every angler knows the importance of making his fly fall gently, and there being less material about it, the artificial nature of that material is not so easily detected; and also, as the hook is not so much covered with feathers, there is a much better chance of hooking a trout when it rises. We wish to impress very strongly upon the reader the necessity of avoiding bulky flies”

  1. Sure. I’ve caught plenty of trout on Stewart’s spiders. I’ve caught plenty of trout on Betters’ The Usual. The former are slim and sparse; the latter, bushy and bulky. It doesn’t matter what Stewart or Betters or you or I think; what matters is, what do the trout think? Sometimes they want slim and sparse; others, bushy and bulky.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  2. we all make mistakes sometimes, Stewart is no exception and some of us are even totaly wrong – Halford for rxample 🙂

    • i like to think i’m always wrong. that way mistakes are no longer mistakes and all’s well and i can have my coffee in peace. 😆

  3. thats Ok Marc, otherwize it could look like the funny clown Halford who believed that dry fly is the only fly fishing style 🙂

    • ahhhh, but we now know that all that supposed ‘purity’ was just an excuse to go bang some streamside nymph !
      when i think about all this i get sad for poor Eileen.
      poor, poor Eileen….

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