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Fly fishing and the reel deal

Sunday, 21 June 2015  |  Simon

In North America in the late 19th century, anglers, such as Theodore Gordon, in the Catskill Mountains of New York started using fly fishing tackle to fish the region’s many brooks and trout-rich streams, in locations such as the Beaverkill and Willowemoc Creek. Many of these early American fly anglers also developed new fly patterns. They consigned a lot of their experiences and what they learned into writings, and it was their texts that helped to boost the sport’s popularity all across the United States.

One such literary angler was Charles F. Orvis. Through his actions he helped popularise fly fishing by designing and distributing novel reel and fly designs. His 1874 fly reel was described by reel historian Jim Brown as the "benchmark of American reel design." This invention is said to be the first fully modern fly reel.

With the founding of The Orvis Company fly fishing became almost an institution in the States. Orvis supplied angling equipment and accessories to the homes of millions of Americans. The company’s tackle catalogues, distributed to a small but devoted customer list in the late 1800s, are now highly collectible. The catalogues are forerunners of the modern day direct-mail outdoor fly fishing tackle industry (such as The Essential Fly, naturally).

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