Ælian on fly fishing

Tolfrey, 1848

ranslation of the Aelian fly fishing passage reproduced from Bibliotheca Piscatoria, Westwood and Satchell, 1883.

"The Macedonians, who live on the banks of the river Astraeus, which flows midway between Berea and Thessalonica, are in the habit of catching a particular fish in that river by means of a fly called hippurus ; a very singular insect it is-bold and troublesome like all its kind, in size a hornet, marked like a wasp, and buzzing like a bee." From his account of these fish they must have been trout, and he exactly describes the method in which a trout feeds at present, "when one of them sees the fly floating down toward, him, he approaches, swimming gently under the water, fearing to move the surface lest his prey should be scared. Then drawing nearer underneath, he sucks in the fly, as a wolf snatches a sheep from the fold, or an eagle a goose from the farmyard, and having done so disappears under the ripple." The fisherman, he adds, cannot use the natural fly, for a touch of the human hand rubs off its delicate bloom and destroys its wings. "Therefore," he resumes, "they overreach the fish by an artful device. Round the hook they twist scarlet wool and two wings are secured on this wool from the feathers which grow under the wattles of a cock, brought up to the proper colour with wax. The rod they use is six feet in length and the line is of the same length. Then the angler lets fall his lure. The fish attracted by its colour, and excited, draws close, and judging iron its beautiful appearance that it will obtain a marvellous banquet, forthwith opens its mouth, but is caught by the hook, and bitter indeed is the feast it enjoys, inasmuch as it is captured."

Ælianus (Claudius). De natura animalium, libri xvii. Cum animadversionibus C. Gesneri et D. W. Trilleri. Curante Abr. Gronovio. Gr. et Lat. Londini: Bowyer, 1744- 4°. Best edition by Schneider, Leipzig 1784.


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