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Fly Fishing History in the Americas

Borne out of the necessity to eat, fly fishing history dates well back to the second century in Ancient Macedonia. 

With the colonization of the Americas,fly fishing became the passionate sport of gentlemen anglers who favored

delicately tied flies that were cast into the pure running streams of the North Eastern United States.  Unlike spin casting with a heavy lure, fly fishing relies on the weight of the line itself, the skill of the angler and principles of physics. The angler choreographs a series of movements using tapered rod and line, “loading” the tip of the rod with energy needed to propel the delicate fly to its desired location.  Repeated rolling motions with the forearm in an arcing pattern create loops of energy in the line.  In a forward casting motion with an abrupt halt, the energy is then transferred forward, carrying the line far from the angler’s position and into the territory of the unsuspecting fish.

Of course, I taught my eldest everything about fishing.....Lefty just showed him how to do it, “righty!!”

The Complete Angler, 1653

Englishman Isaak Walton’s release of The Complete Angler in 1653, advanced fishing from a mere necessity to a fashionable sport.  Considered the most concise source of information for its time, anglers read Walton’s detailed narratives about fish species, diet and behavior.  The notion of “attracting fish” blossomed as anglers gathered a variety of natural products such as animal furs, bone and feathers to create “flies” and “lures”.  For the first time, anglers were becoming artisans as they attempted to mimic the natural food sources of the great American gamefish.  With the advent of trade between the Old and New World countries, fine silk threads and colorful exotic feathers were imported allowing savvy anglers a vast array of artistic flexibility. 

Although primarily viewed as a sport for gentlemen, by the 1920’s, fly fishing caught the attention of women who were exploring their new sense of respect and freedom.  Interest in fly fishing waned; however, with the implementation of heavier modern metal lures that would rattle and churn their way through the water, propelled and retrieved with fancy geared spinning reels.  Recently, though, there has been passionate resurgence of the romantic and gentile notions of fly fishing and the sport is on the rebound.

TIGHTLINES: Gleaned from a comment by my angler friend, Vince Staley, “tightlines” is a term used as a gesture of good luck among fly fishermen.  This series is the newest in my collection and to date represents three American gamefish:  the Rainbow Trout, The Brown Trout and The Steelhead.  All three are still “works in progress” as I refine the details of fins and scales.  The inspiration for the flies comes from my eldest son, Michael, who at the age of 14 is destined to be the greatest fly fisherman and fly tier this side of the Mississippi.


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