On fly fishing

Brad Smith

The origins of fly fishing for trout are obscure, but certainly go back a very long time. Egyptian hieroglyphics depict people fishing along the Nile, although not for trout. Interestingly, these figures are seen smiling, suggesting the endeavor was not only to procure food, but that it also brought pleasure. These ancient fishers used poles and line not terribly unlike present day gear, although their elaborately-braided hairdos depict a measure of attention to personal grooming rarely seen among members of our fishing club. Loincloths are also less common.

The Romans practiced something close to fly fishing, and by the Middle Ages trout fishing was well established within the higher latitudes. In England during the 14th century, people pursued trout using long wood poles, line fashioned from braided horse hair and hooks made of metal pins bent at an angle (hence the term “angling”).

Trout themselves are ancient species, having evolved little over tens of thousands of years, unlike more advanced fish like tuna or sailfish. Similarly, the insects trout feed on are generally primitive in nature. Dragonfly and mayfly fossils look very similar to what you may find flitting about your patio towards evening.

Yes, technology has advanced. We no longer braid horse hair or bend metal, but one wonders how much more effective we are compared with our distant ancestors. And just as in those hieroglyphics, we tend to smile when fishing.

Fly fishing is often seen as an elitist venture among the well-to-do. In our view, it certainly is not and remains closer to that practiced by the ancients. It is regrettable that as we mature, we are often unable to chase trout deep in the wilds or by rafting down treacherous rivers. But fishing opportunities abound here in Arizona, and our club outings offer the opportunity to catch trout to anyone. So, if you are interested in any of this, please consider joining our club. We promise you will be provided with whatever knowledge we may have, as well as the camaraderie common to the sport. Loincloths remain optional.

For additional information, please email George Abernathy at [email protected] or call him at 480-521-1060.

“There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.” Paul O’Neil