Fly Fishing and Fly Fishing Tackle
There are many varied opinions as to precisely when, how and why any sort of fishing with a rod started but it was probably a few thousand years ago and the inscrutable Chinese and the elegant Egyptians are often cited as the leading suspects!
But to catch fish with a rod, (originally referred to as an ‘angle’), you also need at least a line to which you need to attach a hook and to that some suitable bait. Seeing fish catching and eating anything underwater is not easy under the best conditions. By contrast, seeing fish taking and eating natural flies from and in the water surface, especially trout, is very easy and quite common.
Thus it is not difficult to make out a case that the first rod fishing bait was very possibly an astute angler’s first attempt at binding bits of feather, fur or wool onto a hook in order to imitate what they observed to be fish’s food or ‘trout flies’. It thus seems entirely reasonable to suggest that those very first angler’s were quite possibly the first fly fisherman.
Early on, fly or trout fishing was just really another means to gather food but which would eventually become a very recognised style of flies fishing.
Fly Fishing Arrives
In England, the first real references to actual fly fishing is generally attributed to Dame Juliana Berners with an article entitled “A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle” which was first printed within the second edition of ‘The Boke of St Alban’ in 1496. The text in that article includes directions on how to make a fly rod, fly line and describes fly hooks, together with instructions for twelve fly patterns.
From this time up to quite recently, fly fishing was really trout fishing and salmon fishing, loosely termed ‘game’ fishing and conducted on fairly exclusive rivers and thus was for a long time regarded as a ‘gentleman’s sport’ in the vein of Hunting & Shooting.
By the 1600’s, with the printing of Isaac Walton’s ‘The Compleat Angler’ rod fishing for a wider range of species and locations as a pastime for a wider audience was promoted and fly fishing or trout fishing became more available. Most forms of fly fishing at the time still used artificial fishing flies which in the main, were still trying to mimic the trout’s real world, naturally occurring food.
This in itself quite literally spawned the associated pastime of fly tying or fly dressing as an obvious means to improve one’s fly fishing skills, experience and success.By the mid-19th Century, fly fishing tackle in terms of more specific fly fishing rods, fly fishing reels and fly fishing lines were becoming more and more popular and available.
With the associated leap forwards in new materials, engineering and mass production, more and more specialised fly fishing gear was developed, fly fishing books and articles were being written and the sport continued to grow in popularity.
Modern Fly Fishing
The next major event in fly fishing UK, came with the huge material and technology developments in the 1950’s and 60’s especially the arrival of Fiberglass which revolutionised fly rods and new lightweight metal alloys which did the same for fly reels and other game fishing tackle.
Also in the 60’s, there was a nationwide programme of building Large Public Reservoirs for sustained fresh water storage and more than probably any other factor, the decision to stock many with rainbow trout and the wide promotion of leisure fishing caused a massive increase in people taking up fly fishing. This in turn was the catalyst for the beginning and growth of Loch Style Boat fly fishing, which then allowed the popular Competition Fly Fishing scene to develop.
All this activity spawned more dedicated fly fishing tackle suppliers and hence specialist fly fishing tackle shops UK. Mass production reduced many prices and increased the availability of fly fishing accessories, dedicated fly fishing clothing, fly fishing waders and even fly fishing tackle bags and luggage!
The introduction of modern materials such as Monofilament, thence Co-polymers, Fluorocarbons, etc., has even allowed specific fly fishing knots to be even further developed and refined and the choice and types of dedicated fly fishing hooks never ceases..
Not to be outdone, lots of fly tyers were quick to respond to the similar and rapid increase in all forms of the latest Synthetic fly tying materials, including yarns, wools, tinsels, etc., in the fabric world, which practically revolutionised fly tying and modern fly fishing flies.
There are now more fly fishing flies online and in store than at any other time.
What Sort of Fly Fishing?
River Trout Fly Fishing
Fly fishing on rivers and streams for trout is probably where it first began and is still hugely popular all round the world. Smaller, lighter fly tackle in the AFTM #3-6 range is mostly the choice of this style and the quarry can be wild brown trout, rainbow trout and grayling, as well as many species of coarse fish. Traditional, imitative style fly patterns are often used to ‘match the hatch’ and a good pair of fly fishing waders will often greatly increase your chances..!
Good casting skills are an advantage.
Stillwater Trout Fly Fishing
Often the starting place for the beginner to fly fishing.
Most often are smaller freshwater syndicate lakes and Day-ticket Stillwater fisheries with stocked Rainbow or Brown trout. Open banks generally make casting easier and tackle in the AFTM #5-8 range is normal
Reservoir Trout Fly Fishing
As above, but these are usually the large public Reservoirs where in addition to Bank fishing, it is usually possible to hire 2-person boats to fish the drifting ‘Loch-style’ method, also as in Competition Boat Fishing. Fish are normally stocked Rainbows and Brownies but Pike Fly Fishing is also often available and can be exciting when unexpected..!
A little more experience is desirable and tackle in the AFTM #7-9 range is usual.
Saltwater Fly Fishing
Has become much more popular in recent years and can be conducted all around the World.. or around most UK coasts from shore, rocks or boat for a wide range of saltwater fish species. ‘Saltwater friendly’ tackle, especially Saltwater fly rods and Saltwater fly reels are sensible but even then should be rinsed in the shower at the end of the day.
Single-handed tackle in the AFTM range #8-12 is often used, dependent upon species and where in the World you are. D/H ‘Salmon’ or ‘Switch’ Rods can also be used in Estuaries.
Salmon & Sea-Trout / Steelhead Fishing
Fly fishing for theses larger game fish on usually larger rivers will call for correspondingly heftier fly fishing gear. This can be achieved with appropriate single-handed fly rods of around AFTM # 8-9.. and ‘Spey’ Fishing is conducted with special Double Handed (D/H) Spey fly rods of say AFTM #9-11 to be able to properly cast and cover and fish the pools and subsequently control the fish.
Fly Fishing for Beginners
Has never been easier!
Fishing Republic stocks a huge choice of both budget and premium fly fishing tackle and if you're a beginner to fly fishing, please feel free to browse our Game Fishing section. We stock a very wide range of fly rods, fly reels and fly lines, not to mention one of the largest selections of trout flies and other special fishing flies in the UK.
- A wide choice of Fly Fishing Starter Outfits and Fly Fishing Improver Kits at all prices and to suit all pockets.
- Dedicated and experienced fly fishermen in our Game Fishing store who will be pleased to give and offer advice and assistance if you wish.