the earliest flies ?

via The Eclectic Angler

” The earliest record of fly fishing in the known western literature is from Greece in the second century AD. Aelian’s “Natural History” described not only fishing with a fly but presented the first written fly pattern, translated here as “They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles, and which in colour are like wax.” Andrew Marshall tied the four flies in this photo as possible alternatives to the fly described by Aelian. If you are interested in early flies and fly tying, then you need to pre-order a copy of Andrew’s “The History and Evolution of the Trout Fly”! “

early flies eclectic anglerthe first thing that popped into my mind after reading this comment and then seeing these flies is, apart from the silk tippet (and disregarding the use of an obviously modern/contemporary barbed hook), the basic designs could have been created yesterday and not nineteen centuries ago: leaving a somewhat droopy-strange feeling that not a whole lot has happened in the fly tying world since, at least not with your average trout-type flies.

for sure, more recent times have shown us some very unique and creative uses of feathers, such as Roy Christie’s Reversed Parachute style to name just one but the basics are pretty much covered in Marshal’s recreations above.  this also brings up questions like, was dubbing applied in say, the conventional twisted-around-the tying-thread method ? or simply lashed on Cro Magnon style and letting the loose bits roam free ?

is this telling us that trout haven’t evolved since those times and that our continuous need to reinvent the wheel by creating billions of fly tying materials and patterns is nothing but a pipe dream ?
so many questions !  (that only a pure geek could possibly care about… ) but this geek is looking forward to reading this upcoming book. i can’t find any reference to it on their site so, all of this might just be a (geek’s pipe) dream but by clicking the pic you can access Eclectic’s page and check out some pretty cool assemble-at-home reel kits and other out-of-the-box goodies. maybe if we pester them enough they’ll give us a little more info on when this book will be available. i hear that reel-makers are easily intimidated besides, pestering’s always fun…

2 thoughts on “the earliest flies ?

  1. I doubt trout have evolved much over this time, though subtleties in the species may have arisen in countries the likes of New Zealand. Here various different stocks have been introduced into a foreign environment with a smorgasbord of food quite different from that which they naturally evolved. Great read thanks!

    • hiya !
      a gut feeling tells me the same. however, considering how little was studied then and how little we still know now, it’s a hard thing to confirm.
      what’s interesting (and this from my uneducated reasoning) is that if they indeed have not evolved, that should mean that they didn’t need to and in a sense, that would mean that since they still thrive with only minor adaptations, they are quite ‘perfect’ as they are. pretty cool.
      thanks for stopping by, love your prints !
      marc

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