History of Fly Rods
An overview of history of fly rods from
200 A.D to 2000s
One of the most interesting histories of fly fishing and fly rods was written by Dr. Andrew N. Herd of England.
Dr. Herd traced fly fishing back to 200 A. D. in Macedonia. The Macedonians used a wooden pole with a line and a bit of crimson wool attached to homemade hooks to catch fish. Doubtless this was a solid pole and not very flexible but nonetheless a fly rod by definition.
The Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle was published as part of the second edition of The Boke of St. Albans in 1496. This book describes in detail how to construct a fly rod of the period. The base of the rod was hazel, ash or willow, with an insert second top piece of smaller hazel. The final part of the top section was “a fair shoot of blackthorn, crabtree, medlar, or juniper”. The Treatyse describes a lot of soaking, drying, hole burning, fitting, binding and so on just to get a fly rod. No running out to a store for instant gratification here folks.
These rods were massive affairs and not the little light weight 00 – 5 line weight rods we enjoy today. The Treatyse also talks about how to make colored braided horsehair lines of different thickness for different fish species, how to make your own hooks, floats, weights, fish species and when to fish for them. Lines were about 16 feet in length so “casting” was more or a dapping or short pickup and drop technique.