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Original Watercolors for Leonard West's The Natural Trout Fly and its Imitation

Posted by Arader Galleries on

flat lay of insects used by fly fishermen or anglers


We are pleased to announce the acquisition of a unique collection of original watercolors prepared for a classic period work for every fly fisher and all trout anglers interested in the development of fly-fishing entomology, Leonard West's The Natural Trout Fly and its Imitation.


Leonard West was a stalwart of the Lancashire and Cheshire Entomological Society (and President for 1916) and founding member of the St. Helen's Fly-fisher's Club. His approach to fly-fishing was based on the premise that "the angler with a knowledge of entomology, possesses a great advantage, and is able readily to select a fly." He made his intended audience clear in introducing The Natural Trout Fly and Its Imitation (1912). His go-to handbook was explicitly for the enthusiast fly fisher who possesses the naturalist tendency to classify to enhance their angling craft, not the conventional entomologist.  In the essence of literary trends of his period, West compared his audience to "followers of the immortal Walton who prefer wading in a pellucid stream to the intricacies of an entomology."


With this poetic approach to a previously scientific subject, there were diversions from traditional natural science terminology.  Instead of accepting the well-known entomological names of the insects described, West invented an entirely new nomenclature. His reason being, he believed that many anglers devoted too much attention to Ephemeroptera (species of mayflies) and not nearly sufficient to other insects eaten by the trout. He intended to provide anglers with broad knowledge, not an encyclopedic representation of all aquatic insects.


Imagery played an influential role in West's guide. The author pointed out different characteristics comparing species by shape, color, scale, and texture and aided in multi-step instruction in preparing artificial flies through illustrated plates. The present collection of original watercolors corresponds to the printed plates in this most covetable book for the sport fisherman.


A full catalog with each plate identified and paired with West's description is available on request.


Bird feathers used in the identification of species for fly fishing artificial flies

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