As fishing guides and lovers of all things fly fishing, we at Fish Habit Outfitters take pride in our fly fishing knowledge, and we love sharing our expertise with others. In today’s blog, we are going to take a quick look at one fly fishing question that not many anglers ask: how did fly fishing begin?
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Now, for all of those fly fishermen who aren’t well versed in the history of the sport as they might like to be, read on!
What Is Fly Fishing?
Before we can really delve into the history, it is important to first define fly fishing. So what is it? Fly fishing is the act of catching fish using artificial flies which are cast out on a fly rod and line. For this to work successfully, the line has to be heavy enough to send the fly sailing, and depending on the angler’s goal, flies can be made to either float or sink. Regardless of these preferences, the overarching goal is always the same: entice fish with what looks like food.
Though the exact origin is unknown, many people believe that the first recorded use of fly fishing dates back to second century Rome, specifically, to the Roman Claudius Aelianus who gave a detailed description of how Macedonian anglers caught fish. In his description, he talks about using wool feathers and how “the fish, attracted and maddened by the color, 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.”
Although there is not an abundance of information available on how fly fishing evolved since its believed origin in Rome, many sources do speak about how modern fly fishing wouldn’t be the same without a few distinct regional movements, specifically, developments in Great Britain, Japan, and the United States.
In Great Britain during the nineteenth century, fly fishing became an elite activity. At the time, there were many books devoted entirely to the subject, and as a whole, the culture began to see fly fishing as the only way to catch fish. Similarly, in Japan, tenkara was a fly-fishing method that was used primarily as a highly effective way of catching fish in small streams.
In the U.S., fly fishing is thought to have begun for the purpose of catching bass. However, once anglers realized how effective of a method this was to catch trout and salmon, the sport evolved. With the introduction of cheap fiberglass rods and synthetic fly lines in the 1920s, the sport began to soar in popularity, and by the ‘50s it became the new and exciting way to catch fish. Nowadays, not much has changed, except we now have far better equipment than ever before and great resources—like expert fishing guides!
Tired of all this fly fishing talk? Ready for a fishing trip? Then contact our fishing guides today! We offer a variety fishing charters throughout northern California.