January 26th, 2004

A Thousand Silly Hats
By James Castwell


As Egor Mustad grinned into the gentle glade, his reflection was disturbed by a swirl and ripples on the surface. His drooling image, which had been making faces back at him for several moments, was now gone and in it's place the fleeting visage of a small fish returning to the depths. Glancing upstream and pulling his animal skin garment tight so it wouldn't get wet, he fastened his good eye on a tiny 'thingy' drifting toward him. Crouching there, he watched as the object sprouted wings and flew off. Had the fish not taken a fly from the surface, he would not have seen it! As luck would have it a duck had been bobbing about upstream and a side flank feather had become loose and was now also drifting into Egor's vision.

And thus my friends was born the idea which would launch a thousand silly hats and long sticks. Those of you who mistakenly think those drab examples attributed to some obscure Nun are wet flies must remember this. They are very simple, basically a hook with some stuff on it and a feather tied back, about the same thing Egor tried to produce with his strip of sinew, a carved hook of wood and a duck feather. A simply made fly which floated just as the thing he saw the fish take. Unequivocally, the first flies were dry! But the hook was not too good so he invented metal instead and made a hook out of some.

Well, let me tell you this. The hook worked a lot better, but it did not float so Egor Mustad gave up and invented golf and bowling. Over a few more eons fly-fishing languished, remaining unchanged as all of his floating fly patterns, which had floated and worked so well, now sunk. Little did he know he had also invented, wet flies!

And there you have the answer to those flies of the old lady from the Church. Misfits at best, they were used for many years as they were until Sir D. Conrad, (the first) invented 'hackle.'

This stuff (feathers from the back of a chickens head) when wound circularly about a sinking hook shaft will float the thing! Alas, if only Egor could be with us today; to see how his dry-fly evolved into the gossamer wisp of delight it is to the intelligentsia.

To think how history is made. One fish, a hatching mayfly, one Egor and a duck feather. I have read that if senility had not intervened he was going to write a book too, he may have but (history is unclear on this point) don't count on it. ~ James Castwell


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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