A Brief History of Fly Fishing

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A Brief History of Fly Fishing

Some of you experienced fly fishing experts probably already know the entire fly fishing history like you lived through it. However, there are some who don’t have the slightest or slightly less clue of where it came from. So, I wrote this article from research I did, so hopefully it will shed some light on its origin.


We all know fishing was an essential source of food. When man first began to fish he used a “Gorge” rather than a hook (hooks came later). A Gorge was made of a piece of wood, bone, or stone that had been sharpened at both ends with simple designs, very similar to modern-day hooks.

The traditional technique was to cast and hope for the best. With time bait was attached to a line. The line was usually very thin, lightweight material and the lure or bait is the heaviest part.  This makes it so that when you let that cast, your lure or bait is what carried the momentum through the air. However, with fly fishing the biggest difference is the fly, (which is basically artificial bait) holds very little weight in them and the line is heavy enough to carry the lure. Also, anglers (the name for people who fly fish) use specialized equipment to cast. Equipment built just for fly fishing, so the fly rod, fly line leader, fly etc. is purposely built. Also, the fly or lure is made to either float or sink (depending on your preference). The over all aim is to lure or trick fish into thinking its food.

The more realistic it looks the greater the chance of a catch. This is why, some persons take great time in designing and making their flies. The flies that you use can vary from imitations of insects that float on the surface, these being mayflies, caddis, or other terrestrials (grasshoppers, ants, etc.), to those types of insects that live under the surface of the water.


 An exact date when fishing and fly fishing were first practiced for sport is difficult to establish. However, an article entitled “The Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle” which by tradition was penned by the known Dame Juliana Berner, prioress of a nunnery near London, and published in the Book of St Albans in 1496 is often used to date the birth of sport-fishing. It is the earliest essay on fly fishing and a remarkably full argument and manual for fly fishing and tackle making. British fly fishing continued to develop in the 19th Century, with the emergence of fly fishing clubs, along with more material about fly tying and fly fishing techniques. It eventually developed an elitist reputation as the only acceptable method of fishing in the slower, clearer rivers.

It eventually got to the United States, but lures were designed at the time for Bass fishing. Once they realized how effective the method was there tried catching trout and salmon with the method and began to adapt the patterns to make specific flies depending on what they were fishing are. These flies are still in use today. With the overtime increase in the popularity of the sport, development of cheap fiberglass rods and synthetic fly lines came about to help make fly fishing even more popular. However, it wasn’t until the early 1950’s that fly fishing popularity really peaked.

So, there you have it folks, a brief overview of the history of fly fishing that I found. Now get out there and continue to make the sport live on.