History Of Fly Fishing: From Past To Present
The Romans Introduce Fly FishingFly fishing is often credited to a teacher who lived in Rome during the 2nd century. His name was Claudius Aelianus and he left detailed accounts of his fly fishing experiences while on the Astraeus River. He describes, in vivid detail, the fly rod and line used to ensnare the fish. Aelianus paints a mental image of the flies he used to lure the fish onto his hook. But, some say that fly fishing can be traced two hundred years further. William Radcliff wrote a book titled "Fishing from the Earliest Times" in which he credited fly fishing to a Spaniard named Marcus Valerius Martialis. But, Martialis's details are vague and his mention of flies is unclear.
Fly Fishing Begins To SpreadAfter the death of Aelianus, little was documented about fly fishing for the next 1,000 years. However, that changed in 1496, when a defining book titled "The Treatyse on Fysshynge with an Angle" was released. Fly fishing techniques were described in exquisite detail. But, it would be another 150 years until the groundbreaking "Compleat Angler," written by Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton, would be published and circulated.
After "Compleat Angler" was published, fly fishing experienced a boost of popularity throughout England. Instructional books that explained the art and technique of tying flies and casting lines were published. Clubs catering to fly fishing enthusiasts began to appear. Soon, an informal caste system amongst fly fishermen emerged as those living in Southern England preferred dry fly fishing while looking down upon their brothers in the north who enjoyed wet fly fishing.
When fly fishing had finally found its way to the United States, both methods (wet and dry) were welcomed. America proved to be less discriminating than those in England.