Fly Fishing History- The Dry Fly

via Dr. Andrew N Herd’s great A FlyFishing History

“The first mention of the dry fly in print is in the issue of The Field dated December 17th 1853. In an article by-lined “The Hampshire Fly Fisher” the writer says: “On the other hand, as far as fly fishing is concerned, fishing upstream, unless you are trying the Carshalton dodge and fishing with a dry fly, is very awkward.” Dry fly patterns certainly became commercially available around this time; the firm of Foster’s of Cheltenham selling dry flies with upright split wings as early as 1854. It is, however, unclear who actually developed the first dry fly, if any one man can be said to be the inventor. James Ogden, another Cheltenham tackle dealer, claimed to have been the first to use a dry fly, stating that he used dry patterns during the 1840’s.”

drymay

ok, it doesn’t take a brainiac to figure out that in order to catch surface feeding fish one needs to make a surface imitation however, this is where the whole journey becomes really interesting:

“One reason why the dry fly took so long to catch on was that it wasn’t very easy to fish it. The dry fly of the 1880’s had several glaring deficiencies. When cast, traditional dry flies frequently landed on their sides, or even upside down. Another problem was that the that flies became waterlogged and sank, often in fairly short order. Again, flies were most often tied to gut, which not only made bodies bulky but positively encouraged them to sink, a process which was speeded up by the tendency of silk lines to become waterlogged.

Another key development was the acceptance of the single-handed split-cane trout rod. The 1850s marked the beginning of the end of long double-handed trout rods, although they didn’t  totally fall from favour for at least another forty years. Apart from their length, the worst fault of these early and mid-nineteenth century rods was their excessive pliability. Six strip split-cane fly rods, which were stiff enough to false-cast a dry fly repeatedly, didn’t become cheap enough for general use until the 1880’s.

The term ‘false-casting’ wasn’t adopted immediately, although the technique was widely practised, and for many years after its invention, the process of drying a fly by false-casting was known as ‘spreading.’ The technique led to the development of stiffer rods with pliant tops that could generate the line speed necessary to perform the manoeuvre and had a far-reaching effect on the design of dry-fly rods. These were pioneering days, and one school of thought held that in the absence of paraffin flotants, it was necessary to ‘crack’ the fly at the end of every false-cast in order to dry it properly, a method known as ‘flicking’.” and very probably leading to several un-gentelmanly comments muttered under their breath…

fascinating indeed when we see that the creation of the dry fly was the roots that basically conditioned everything we can still consider to be contemporary fly fishing.

this is special. for the complete article click HERE. enjoy !

10 thoughts on “Fly Fishing History- The Dry Fly

  1. I dont consider the dry fly to be the root of contemporary fly fishing Marc. Its the nymph fishing that is the true fundament of fly fishing. Dry fly is a minor tactic 😛

  2. no need to thank me 😛

    its common misconception to overestimate the importance of the dry fly …on the contrary – nymph fishing is a noble sport, much more elevated than the floating lure /dry fly/!

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