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Rods And Lines For Fishing

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Rods and Lines-The most general form of bottom-fishing is for roach and dace. These gregarious fish shift their ground in search of food, cruising wide in summer, and retiring to the deeps as the weeds which supply them with food disappear before autumn floods and winter frosts. Their established haunts are the angler's " swims," and by the aid of ground-bait the fish may, when they intermittently rove, be soon attracted back. All fish are easily frightened by disturbance or unaccustomed objects on the bank, but the roach is pre-eminently shy, and to be an adept in catching it demands long experience and infinite patience. There are also schools of bottom-fishermen, and they are in the nature of old foundations. Thames, Trent, and Lea have their own curriculum. The bank-fisher's stock begins with a hollow bamboo rod of eighteen or twenty feet in length, without rings or winch fastenings. There being no reel a running line is dispensed with. The line for this rod should be fine, and shorter than the rod, for the fish bites gingerly, and the strike should be instantaneous ; this is only possible with a rod that is comparatively stiff, even to the point, and length of line sufficient to permit of angling with the rod held horizontally over the water. Sometimes the roach bites boldly, and the quill float disappearing sharply, a turn of the angler's wrist and a quick uplifting of the point hooks the stricken fish ; with such a rod, landing is effected by unshipping the butt and reducing the length.

Until comparatively recent times all the foot-lines were of horsehair, and many modern roach-fishers use them. To the human eye, horse-hair looks much coarser than the fine drawn gut which has extensively superseded it, but as it keeps free of globules of water, and does not glitter, it is probably least obtrusive to the eye of the fish. Mention has been made of ground-bait, and although it is indispensable, in excess it is destructive of chances. Most professional fishermen indulge profusely in masses of moistened bran, bread, and clay pounded together. The object of ground-bait is to attract and not surfeit, and no more is required in the ordinary forms of bottom-fishing than a few balls so kneaded that the lighter constituents slowly flake off when the bulk has found resting place ; small pellets thrown in at intervals are enough to keep the fish, once gathered to the spot, in the swim. Coarse fish, like the bream, may have more liberal treatment, and bushels of grains are often cast forth over night to bring together a herd of fish for the angler at the earliest dawn of day. The favourite ground-bait for barbel, which has habits and haunts of its own, are large dew worms, whole or chopped, and chandlers greaves.

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