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Fly Fishing 15th Century

Saturday, 18 April 2015  |  Simon

In terms of fly fishing history, we know next to nothing about how people fished a fly prior to the seventeenth century. But we can, to a degree, extrapolate some data from the scant information available. For example, it is believed that people in the 15th century used rods of fourteen feet or more in length, without reels but with a twisted horsehair line fixed to the top of the rod. The limitations of the equipment suggest it’s unlikely that fishermen at the time used lines much longer than twice the length of their rod.

It is often assumed that fly fishermen in that century cast the fly, rather than letting their line blow at the mercy of the wind, a reasonable enough speculation, though speculation is all we have. Their casting style would have been a simple "pick up and lay down," because we know for sure that false cast wasn't invented until four centuries later. We have no clue, and may indeed never know, how a fly was fished or whether the fly was fished up or down.

Most fly fishermen were after trout, since the equipment available back then was no match for salmon. Although salmon were sometimes caught on the fly,in most cases it would be next to impossible on a short fixed line.

More on fly fishing 15th century style next time.


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