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Evolution of Fly Fishing: 6

Friday, 17 July 2015  |  Simon

It seems likely that the fly fishing proper had its origins in the 16th and 17th centuries. At the time recreational fishing for sport or leisure took was just beginning to take off, coincidentally with the publication of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation in 1653. This book is regarded as definitive work for angler who loves fishing just for the sake of it. More than 300 editions have been published, making it one of the most frequently reprinted books in English literature.

Big-game fishing, on the other hand, began as a sport after the invention of the motorized boat. In 1898, marine biologist and conservationist, Dr. Charles Frederick Holder, virtually invented this sport. He went on to publish many articles and books on the subject which were a combination of scientific narratives and scientific detail.

It is generally believed that the first use of an artificial fly was by Roman Claudius Aelianus near the end of the 2nd century. He described the practice of Macedonian anglers on the Astraeus River:

“They have planned a snare for the fish, and get the better of them by their fisherman's craft. 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 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.”

So there you have it, the true origin of fly fishing.

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