I recently came across an excellent site on the web that I want to share with you. Dr. Herd, the author, shares some careful and diligent research into the subject of fly fishing's history.
The site contains reprints of works from long ago demonstrating the rich history of our sporting tradition as well as the results of the Author's research into the subject.
I found this to be an excellent read and very comprehensive. The sites author, Dr. Andrew Herd, has obviously prepared a thorough and well laid out site that covers the history of fly fishing in depth. Dr. Andrew Herd is the Associate Editor, Waterlog Magazine,
and member of the Flyfisher's Club, London.
As to fly fishing's origins the author provides, "the first reference to fly fishing is in ?lian?s Natural History, probably written about 200 A.D." The reference to AElian's includes "They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a *****?s wattles, and which in colour are like wax. Their rod is six feet long, and their line is the same length. Then they throw their snare, and the fish, attracted and maddened by the colour, comes straight at it, thinking from the pretty sight to gain a dainty mouthful; when, however, it opens its jaws, it is caught by the hook, and enjoys a bitter repast, a captive".
Dr. Herd covers this whole subject in great depth and has made a significant contribution to us that have inquired about where, when, and how did this passion to fish with the fly all begin. I found "The Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle" most interesting as much of the shared advise in the treatise is applicable today as much as it was in 1490 A.D.
The author writes;
""The Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle" was published as part of the second edition of The Boke of St. Albans in 1496. Two manuscript versions exists, dated prior 1450, but even the most complete copy lacks some of the text of the printed version, in particular the list of flies. We know who published the Treatyse - Wynkyn de Worde, Caxton's apprentice and successor. The identity of the author is less certain. It is often said that the author was Dame Juliana Berners, but the evidence for this is pretty slim.
The Treatyse is the most complete early reference work on fly fishing. The text includes instructions on how to make a rod, line, hooks, instructions for twelve fly patterns and hints about how to catch the common varieties of British fish.
The Treatyse stands out among works of the period, not least because it is the first printed book on fly fishing, but also because it champions fishing, putting it on the same plane as hunting. Hunting was the sport of kings and nobles, and the Treatyse's claim must have caused a few raised eyebrows at the time. However, the influence of the Treatyse was immense. It was a popular work and was reprinted many times over the century that followed its first publication. "
I took the time to read this treatise, plus much more of the extensive content there and thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend you take a little time from your hurried life to stop and ponder the origins of this pastime and get in touch with its rich history. I commend Dr. Herd's effort and would like to express my gratitude and thanks for his effort.
Jeff Selser - Site Admin
Fly Fishing Info Center
You can visit the site by follwing this link - Fly Fishing History
The contents include;
- The origins of fly fishing
- In search of the Astr?us
- Fly fishing in medieval times
- The Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle
- Fly fishing techniques in the fifteenth century
- Walton and his contemporaries
- The calm before the storm - fly fishing in the eighteenth century
- The era of innovation - 1800 to 1850
- The Victorians
- The Dry Fly
- The Gaudy Salmon Fly
- The quiet revolution - 1900 to 1950
- Today and tomorrow - 1951 to ?