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Flying in for fly fishing

Did you know people travel to Idaho from all over the world to take in some of the best fly fishing on the planet? Anglers (and fish) have certainly had their struggles this summer due to drought conditions in our state. Thankfully, recent rains and cooler temperatures have lifted many closures in the area, bringing eager anglers to the shores once more. In this 2-part series, we will look at the history of fly fishing and the tools involved with the sport. 

Fly fishing through the ages

A little bit of the basics- fly fishing uses a fly line that is heavy enough to send the fly through the air and position it on top of the water. With spin or bait fishing, the lure or sinker at the end of the line gives casting distance. 

Fly fishing is a common method for catching trout. However, there are fly anglers who attempt to catch as many different species as possible. As stronger rods and reels are developed, larger species (tuna, dorado, etc.) have become a target for the fly angler.

In the very beginning, rods were not used. Simple hand lines were pulled in and usually from boats. From there, tying the line to a short branch remained the type of rod used until the 4th century when longer jointed rods became more common. 

There are some references to fly fishing being around the time of the Romans.  However, clear documentation surfaced in England in the 13th century.  It became a pastime enjoyed by the upper classes by the end of the 15th century. It is referenced in the publication “The Treatyse of Fysshynge Wyth an Angle” by author Dame Juliana Berner, prioress of a nunnery near London, and published in the Book of St Albans in 1496. It is often used to date the birth of sport-fishing.  Fly fishing clubs, books on fly tying, and fishing techniques expanded into the 19th century.  Here, in the United States, some credit the Catskills of southeastern N.Y. as the birthplace of U.S. fly fishing. 

Millions of people are intrigued by the sport. The ability to decipher fish habitats, diet, and behavior provides an escape for many – rain or shine. And here, in the scenic Sun Valley area, there is no better backdrop for casting a line on a shimmering river teaming with some of the largest trophy-sized trout in the country. Interested in learning more? Many outfitters in the area provide free clinics, expert advice, and guided trips for a truly unique experience.