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History Of Fly Fishing

Fly fishing has been around in various forms for many years. Early historical records indicate that Macedonian fishermen were using artificial flies to catch fish as early as the second century. The Roman Claudius Aelianus described the Macedonian anglers as using six-foot rods with six-foot line. Aelianus detailed how the Macedonian fishermen would craft artificial flies from a hook with red wool and insect wings tied on. These Macedonian fishermen were apparently quite successful with their technique. There is also some evidence that fishing with artificial flies may even predate the second-century Macedonian techniques.

Unfortunately, little else was written about ancient fly fishing methods. It was 1496 before any major work was published describing fly fishing. It is thought that modern fly fishing probably developed in England and Scotland. Fly fishing techniques similar to modern techniques began to be developed in England in the 19th century. Around this time fly fishing clubs were also formed in England to accommodate a growing interest in the sport.

Part of the interest in fly fishing in southern England was because of the prevalence of shallow, weedy rivers. Fly fishing proved to be well-adapted to this type of water course. Fly fishing quickly became something of an elitist sport in England. Fly fishing purists insisted on fishing with dry flies only and looked down on wet fly fishing as being inferior. Wet fly fishing continued to be developed around the same time, however. The US and Scandinavia also saw fly fishing popularity increase during the 19th century. However, anglers in the US and Scandinavia did not share the English view concerning the superiority of dry fly fishing. US and Scandinavian anglers fished both dry and wet flies. Fly fishing materials have continued to develop over the years. Significant advances have been made in fly fishing equipment, including rods, line and flies.

Early fly fishing rods were made from a tropical wood known as greenheart. Bamboo replaced greenheart as fly fishing popularity spread. Bamboo rods were further refined as American rod builders developed advanced rod building techniques that involved cutting the bamboo into strips before gluing the bamboo back together around a solid core. Following World War II fiberglass became a popular material for fly rod construction. The fiberglass rods were more affordable than their bamboo predecessors since bamboo rods may take as much as 100 hours to build. Modern fly fishing rods are usually made from a graphite compound. Modern rods are less expensive than earlier rods and perform exceptionally well. Artificial flies were originally made from natural materials like feathers and fur. Most modern flies are made from synthetic materials. Fly line has also been improved quite a bit.

Fly fishing line used to be made of horse hair. Horse hair line was replaced by silk line. The silk line was an improvement over horse hair but the line still had to be removed from the reel periodically to allow it to dry. US interest in fly fishing peaked in the 1920s with Maine, Vermont and Wisconsin being the most popular areas for fly fishing. Interest increased again in the 1950s with the development of affordable, fiberglass fly fishing rods, synthetic fly line and monofilament leaders. These developments served to make fly fishing a more affordable sport for many people.


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