Road kill – by Mike Connor

Road kills are also an excellent source of cheap and very useful material, I have a very large collection of materials obtained in this way. Cost? A bit of borax and salt, and the time spent in preparing them. 

If you do find birds it is often best to clip off or pluck the feathers you require and not bother trying to skin them. Birds, especially small ones, are very difficult to skin unless you have a lot of practice. 

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Materials collector – by Mike Connor

 I have had a lot of requests from people at my classes, and elsewhere, to explain where and how I obtained some of my seemingly vast collection of materials, so here are some of the answers. 

First of all, if you wish to collect “bits and pieces” from domestic pets or similar animals, ask the owners first, and be careful how you ask! Some people are very sensitive in this respect.

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Camouflage – by Mike Connor

I was squatting in a large bush on a small stream I fish regularly, watching a beautiful brown trout of about two pounds gracefully rising slowly and confidently to a series of olives which were hatching steadily. I had been watching the fish for about fifteen minutes, and was trying to figure out how best to get a cast at him without putting him down. The fish suddenly “stiffened” and sank slowly into the depths, and two other fish, smaller ones which I had not noticed up to that point, flashed past going downstream as if the devil was after them.

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Grayling – by Mike Connor

Thymallus thymallus, the European grayling, a fish surrounded by contradictions.  Although most definitely a salmonid, as clearly demonstrated by the presence of an adipose fin, in many places classed, and indeed treated more or less as a coarse fish, due to its spawning times. Although many anglers now consider it a worthy quarry, and travel a long way for the opportunity to catch them. Unique among salmonids, grayling spawn in late spring and summer. All other salmonids are autumn and winter spawners.

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Wanton Wiggling – by Mike Connor

“Have a wiggle!”. “Go on, have a wiggle”, he said. So I had a wiggle.

Unfortunately, even after wiggling, I was not much wiser than before. Despite the fact that I have handled thousands of rods, and fished and cast with a goodly number, all I get from “wiggling” them in a tackle shop, or indeed anywhere else, is a very rough idea of their unloaded action, whether they are particularly stiff or floppy, and a vague inkling of what they might be able to do.

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The Old Man – by Mike Connor

The old man was there again, and he obviously had a good fish on, judging by the bend in his rod. We watched him land the fish with a long handled net from the high bank.

“Looks like another good one for the old man,” my companion remarked, “he certainly does seem to do well over there, hardly anybody else fishes the place, too dark under the trees and very difficult to cast, the high bank is a nuisance as well, he must be good to get fish there.”

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Changes – by Mike Connor

Rivers and streams change constantly. Gravel and sand shifts, even large rocks are moved in time. Banks are eroded. Floods change the way the river bends and flows. Some features though, seem to be almost permanent from year to year.

When I first saw it, on my first visit to the new water belonging to the club I had just joined, the bush was bare, its branches looked gaunt and naked, and the tangle of roots at its base was also lacking the cloak of weed which would cover them in summer. It was early spring, and a solitary fly hanging forlornly from one of the low branches, gave the lie to my idea that I might have been the first visitor to the water this year.

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