Early Fly Fishing Gear
There is quite an early reference to fly fishing gear in a 1921 book by William Radcliff in which he gives credit to Marcus Valerius Martialis, born some centuries before. Marialus wrote:
“Who has not seen the scarus rise, decoyed and killed by fraudful flies.” The last word, indistinct in the original, could either be "mosco" (moss) or "musca" (fly), though catching fish with fraudulent moss seems unlikely.
There was another type of recreational fly fishing which originated in Japan least 430 years ago. Anglers back then discovered they could dress flies with pieces of fabric and use those to fool the fish. The practice became more sophisticated as the samurai, who were forbidden to practice martial arts and sword fighting in the Edo period, found this type of fishing to be a good substitute for their training. The rod proved a good sword substitute, and walking on the rocks of a small stream was excellent balance training. The samurai who enjoyed fishing would take sewing needles and bend them to make their own flies by hand. Nowadays, the rods they used, along with fishing flies, are considered to be a traditional local craft of the Kaga region. The Meboso family in Kanazawa has been making the flies for as long as 400 years, and are currently a 20-generation fly-tiers, which only goes to show that fly fishing gear itself has a long tradition of artisans in its manufacture.