The History of Fly Fishing

Its Origins

The history of fly fishing is an ancient angling method to catch fish with an artificial fly as distinct from live or dead bait. Casting the (practically) weightless fly requires a special fishing line and a long rod.

Some say the first record of fly fishing was near the end of the 2nd century and credit is given to Roman, Claudius Aelianus. He talked of the practice of Macedonian anglers on the Astraeus River: "…They fasten red….wool round a hook, and fit on to the wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles, and which in color are like wax. Their rod is six feet long and their line is the same length….."

More traditional fly fishing, as it is known now, is said to have its origins in the fast flowing, rocky rivers of Scotland and northern England. One of the earliest publications on the sport was in 1496. Fly fishing by the British continued to develop in the 19th century as fly fishing clubs were formed and publications became available on the subject of fly tying and fly fishing techniques.

Dry fly fishing was developed in southern England in rivers and chalk streams that were full of vegetation, as this was the best method of avoiding the weeds and other water vegetation that grew near the surface of certain bodies of water and, to some, acquired the reputation of the only acceptable method of fishing the slower clear rivers of the south.

In the United States, the fly anglers were thought to be the first to use artificial lures for the warm water species of fish, specifically the bass. Most notably known for the lures developed by these anglers was the bass popper fly.

One of the early developers of fly anglers in the United States was Charles F. Orvis, who developed a fly reel in 1874. His reel design was, at the time, described as the first fully modern fly reel. With the Orvis company founding, the sport of fly fishing was on its way to the sport that it has developed into today.

And the rest, as they say, is history.