Cortland Company History The Past and the Present
During the summer of 1915, Ray Smith, a merchant and avid angler, from Cortland New York, decided he’d had enough of the clothing business. Ray, an expert in braiding technology, designed and produced a unique selection of braided silk fishing lines that soon made Cortland Line Company one of the major players in the fishing line business of the early 1900’s. With the onset of World War II, the production of fishing lines took a back seat to needs of the US armed forces. Parachute and bomb cord became first priority. Cortland Line developed many advanced manufacturing methods and technologies to help the war effort.
Following the war Cortland Line Company used the new technology to introduce braided fishing lines that are still the benchmark for quality in the world.
High maintenance, braided silk fly lines were the only choice for the fly fisher during the first half of the 20th century. But in 1953 things changed dramatically when the 333 Fly Line Series was introduced. The 333 was the first fly line manufactured with a bonded synthetic surface coating that actually allowed the line to float without repeated cleaning and drying. Fly fishing has never been the same! The 333 dominated the fly fishing industry through the 50’s and into the early 60’s. As the legions of fly anglers grew, so did the demand for a premium high performance fly line. The Cortland Line Research and Development team were up to the task, creating a new, extremely supple, glass smooth line with precise taper configurations, that allowed the new breed of sophisticated fly fishers to experience an unprecedented level of control and accuracy. The 444 Fly Line had arrived.
Through the late 60’s and into the 70’s Cortland began to expand its product line introducing a full line of sportfishing products. Leon Chandler, Cortland’s Fly Fishing Ambassador to the World, saw the need for a new type of fly line backing that would have a smaller tighter braid, to shed water quickly, and be visible throughout the entire battle with the fish of a lifetime. Made available in white, chartreuse and orange, Cortland’s Micron has never been eclipsed as the most popular fly line backing in the world. In the late 70’s and early 80’s many fly fishers turned to the new faster fly rods and began demanding a slick long distance line with specialized tapers designed for specific conditions. The 444 SL took the market by storm in 1979. Fly fishing was coming of age and Cortland was again the leader!
"The Future of Fly Fishing" was realized in 1993 when the 444 Lazerline was introduced. New plastics allowed superb performance, migrating lubricants and hi-tech floating components combined to create the ultimate in fly line manufacturers art. The 90's also saw the introduction of the Tropic Plus Lazerline, 444SL Clear and Ghosttip, 444 Camo and 444SL Wind Taper insuring Cortland's place as a leader in fly line design and the favorite of the new fly fisher and seasoned veteran alike.
In 2000, the 444 was named "Fly Line of the Millennium" and the 444 Camo named fly line of the year. In 2001, IQ Magazine rated the SL Change A Tip the "Top" fly line made. The new century begins with Cortland still on the top. Today every part of Cortland’s award winning fly lines and exceptional braided fishing lines are made in Cortland, NY by the employee owners. No other company can say that. Ray would be proud!