History of the Fly Rod



about 200 A.D. The first reference to fly fishing is in Ælian’s "Natural History"
300 or 400 A.D. ancient Chinese were using reels
13th century German texts mention the catching of trout and grayling using a "feathered hook"
1496 Dame Juliana Berners authors, "Treatyse of Fysshyng with An Angle", generally recognized as the first book on fly fishing
1600 first indisputable illustration of a reel is a painting of a Chinese turtle fisherman who is clearly using a reel attached to a rod
1620 first mention of casting a fly:  " … a line twice your rod's length of three hairs' thickness, in open water free from trees on a dark windy afternoon, and if you have learned the cast of the fly. . . "
1653 "The Complete Angler", by Isaak Walton, is written; later to become a "classic" on fishing
17th century flyfisherman use a twisted horsehair line
1722 ads for Chinese silkworm gut lines appear
1726 first commercial evidence of fly fishing tackle; advertising "the best sort of Winches" in Europe
1732 America's first angling club is formed: The Schuykill Fishing Company, near Philadelphia on the Schuykill River
mid 1700's The origin of the "X" system is interesting, because it is about two hundred and fifty years old, and is based on an international system used for sizing watch parts
1750 The multiplier reel emerges in response to the poor design of single action reels
1766 year attributed to first known American fly fisher, Joseph Banks, distinguished English naturalist
late 1700's "Running rings" (guides) first appear on rods
late 1700's fly tying vice appears, but is regarded as a "dangerous" innovation
1800's 1st fly rods are made of wood: hickory, willow, ash, fir, lancewood, Osage orange, greenheart
1800's leisure travel becomes possible for ordinary people; railway plays a crucial role in the development of fishing

1800 fly reels are in almost universal use by flyfishermen

1805 to 1810 George Snyder, watchmaker and silversmith from Kentucky, believed to make first quality reels in America; become known as "Kentucky reels"
early 1800's winged wet fly emerges
1832 rod engraved with this year becomes the oldest identified American-made rod, now in the American Museum of Fly Fishing
1836 book published by Ronalds depict trout flies had come forward in leaps and bounds

1846 first "split cane" bamboo fly rod made by Sam Phillippe
by 1850 "tapered reel lines" were standard; routine to reverse line when one end had worn
1850's bamboo becomes primary material for fly rods
1850's "Few anglers have the equipment or the technical expertise to shoot line, so twenty-five yards is a good cast. An expert could manage thirty or even thirty five yards using an eighteen foot rod."
1890s finely-plaited dressed silk lines become widely available
by mid 19th century silk gut line is established big business

1853 first mention of the dry fly in print: "The Field"

1874 first American narrow-frame fly reel is made by Charles Orvis
1886 Halford defines dry fly fishing as "… presenting to the rising fish the best possible imitation of the insect on which he is feeding in its natural position."
by late 1800's many fishermen are buying their flies from tackle dealers
1886 to 1890 origination of hairwing flies attributed to Idaho rancher A.S. Trude
early 1900's steel is introduced; both tubular & solid . . . heavy rods that break easily
1910 G.E.M. Skues describes nymph fishing, forming bedrock for modern sunken fly fishing
1909 or 1910 material called "Japanese Gut" or "Gut Substitute" appears
early 1930s A.H.E. Wood revolutionizes salmon fishing by inventing the "greased-line" technique
1938 "Nylon" invented and patented by Dupont
early 1940's copper rods offer slow, heavy actions
1948 solid glass is used, providing flexibility, resiliency; lousy to cast, but the fiber begins to become industry standard material
1949 polyvinyl chloride (PVC) becomes available and the first nylon fly lines are born
late 1940's "tubular" method of fiberglass construction becomes standard for all future rod construction
mid 1950's Shakespeare Tackle Company's white, hollow fiberglass rods become prevalent
1974 introduction of high modulus carbon graphite
1977 Shakespeare's "Ugly Stik" uses blend of fiberglass & graphite
1980's variety of graphite fiber density and composite mixes expand rod choices
1988 Orvis introduces 25 year warranty on fly rods
1995/96 Lifetime, no fault warranties introduced by most major rod makers

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