The first written mention of fly fishing in the history of fly fishing seems to be from the Romans, describing the way the Macedonians fished on the Astraeus River. The Macedonians were using flies even then, tying “red wool” around two feathers. Their rods were six feet long, and so were their lines. The Romans were apparently impressed.
Little else was written about fly fishing until a book was published in 1496, written by a woman in Great Britain. Dame Juliana Berners was not just a fisherman, she was also into hawking, hunting and field sports. And she was a nun. There was a poem written about fly fishing in 1613, said to be penned by a fishing partner of William Shakespeare.
British fly fishing continued to develop until in the 19th Century, there were fly fishing clubs and books written on fly tying and fishing techniques. Dry fishing gained a reputation as being the only way to fish the slower rivers, but as always, there were rebels. George Edward MacKenzie Skues proved with his nymph and wet fly techniques on those same rivers, and even wrote two very influential books about them.
The Practical Angler was published by a Scotsman, W.C. Stewart, in 1857.
Fly fishing was adopted about that time in both Scandinavia and the United States, where people weren’t nearly so rigid about where and how to use what.
More history to come!