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How we invented this crazy thing

Flyfishing isn't new.
As well as building roads, having orgies and keeping the Scots out of England the Romans were flyfishermen. One of the great incentives behind the building of Hadrian's Wall, for example, was to keep the Scots away from the chalkstreams of the South. As everyone knows, the Scots are devils with their wet flies and the Romans were purists.

Anyway they did fly fish. Whether anyone was flyfishing before this we can't say for sure, as there is nothing on record. It is just possible that Stonehenge has something to do with flycasting...

Of course they didn't have the sort of tackle we have nowadays. It was more do-it-yourself in those days. And this is how it happened:

Centurion Pisces fancying a bit of a flyfishing experience in between road building and orgy partaking nips off into the woods and chops down a fresh sapling. Probably willow. To the end he knots a length of braided horsehair attached to which is a fly.

A few interesting technical things come out of this. The first is that the 'leader' was generally the same length as the rod. This meant that our Centurion pal could only fish a maximum of twice as far away as the rod tip. Cunningly he got around this problem by chopping down long saplings in the region of 16 to 17 feet.

The second interesting point is that without a reel to store line in reserve for the playing of lunkers, a large fish, once hooked, would be played by throwing the rod in and allowing the fish to drag it around until tired. I am not sure as to the truth in this incidentally. But it's a nice thought and probably genuine.

Lastly, it is thought that flycasting possibly came about by the missing of takes and the angler flicking the fly back out again.

Modern flyfishing is different. No surprises there. The reel has done all this. This has given us the flexibility to cast greater distances by 'shooting' line.

Steve: So when was the flyreel invented then?
Paul: Around the turn of the 18th Century.


Now it's time to learn to flycast.


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