September, 2015

A Brief History of Alaska Fly Fishing

A Brief History of Alaska Fly Fishing

By the time Europeans made it to Alaska in the mid-1700s, fly fishing was already an ancient sport. Flip the calendar forward about 100 years, and folks on the Continent considered it a pastime for the elite. Yes, while Alaskans were fly fishing to put food on the table, casting became an art form back in Europe. That’s not really bad when you think about it. All those lucky people with time on their hands came up with some impressive innovations that we take for granted today. Let’s start at the beginning. Everybody Was Fly Fishing It was a just another lazy afternoon in the 2nd century when Roman teacher Claudius Aelianus settled in to watch anglers casting into the Astraeus River. He was so impressed with their tackle and technique that he put stylus to tablet describing round hooks wrapped in red wool and sporting cock feathers. He sang the praises of perfectly placed casts from 6-foot poles, but the Romans didn’t have a monopoly on anything. The Japanese had been at it for centuries too, and fly fishing eventually migrated to Europe and England where it found no boundaries in age or gender. If you don’t think of women as accomplished anglers, you need to get out more. The very first book of instruction on fly fishing was written by Englishwoman Juliana Berners in 1496. Her publication was a how-to that covered rods, line, hook making and fly tying. You have to wait until the 1600s for someone to actually use the term “cast a fly.” That credit goes to Shakespeare’s fishing buddy, John Dennys, who was moved to write poetry about the sport. By then, what had started out as a necessity for filling pantries had become a favorite pastime. Mass Production Actually Helped No one documented early fly fishing in Alaska, but it’s a safe bet that the first rigs were homemade. Settling this wild territory took steel will and sharp wits, so there’s no doubt that our original anglers made their own gear. It took the Industrial Revolution and mass production to make tackle available for frustrated fishermen who were tired of twisting their own line. Running rings and pre-fab flies were considered fancy innovations, debating the pros and cons of wet versus dry became a sport of its own, and fly fishing books sailed off printing presses. The next time you drop by the Anchorage Public Library, check out a copy of “The Fly-Fisher’s Entomology.” Alfred Ronalds published this definitive volume back in 1836, but it might look familiar because it set the standard for today’s fly-fishing literature. You won’t find a better collection of angler’s eye candy. The book is beautifully illustrated with full-color plates showcasing fish and flies. Reading about the history of fly fishing in Alaska is fun, but this visual journey into the sport’s past is as inspiring as it is glorious. It Just Kept Getting Better Two very important things happened to Alaskan fly fishing in the 1950s. The first was […]

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10 Sites You Need to Follow If You Love Alaska Fly Fishing

10 Sites You Need to Follow If You Love Alaska Fly Fishing

They might seem at odds with each other. An afternoon surfing the Internet can’t compare to time gladly lost in the magic of casting a line. Putting apples and oranges aside, the online world embraces everything on the planet including its very best outdoor sport and Alaska’s favorite pastime. Of course, we’re talking about fly fishing, and we know you’ll really enjoy these 10 sites that make our point. 1. Fish Alaska Magazine – You don’t need a subscription to enjoy this online publication dedicated to everything about fishing in Alaska. Posts are organized by topics that cover it all including ice fishing, recipes and how-to articles. Naturally, fly fishing has its own section filled with the kind of information that’s sure to help fine-tune your delivery talents. Amazing photography makes this site a keeper. 2. Mystic Waters Fly Fishing – Get it straight from the professional guides’ mouths, and read all about Kvichak River adventures, the latest fly recipes and breaking news on Alaska’s fishing action. Check out tips and tricks, product reviews and the always entertaining Strange and Unusual articles. Site contributors also cover fly fishing in the Lower 48 and Mexico, but we don’t hold that against them. 3. Alaska Fly Fishing Online – We admit, this one looks a little long in the tooth, but it’s got so much to offer that we think it belongs on the list. Compare your techniques with the site’s Stalker series outlining strategies for streams, still water and salt. Cruise the Tips section for posts on tying weedless flies and making tougher peacocks. It’s a shame the Members’ Forum doesn’t work, but overall, the information is timeless. 4. Alaska Dispatch News, Anchorage – If you’ve only heard about the story, read in-depth reporting and recaps devoted to Alaskan fishing. It’s not exactly a blog, but it’s a great roundup of information that really impacts our sport. Some stories are controversial, others are entertaining, and they all serve to increase our awareness of Alaska’s incredible natural resources. Feel free to ignore the Politics section, and just concentrate on fishing news. 5. Alaska.org – Technically, this is a travel connection, but we’ve linked you to its Fishing Tips section to give you an idea of how much the site has to offer. The folks on these pages are wildlife biologists, bush pilots, park rangers and photographers who all love fishing Alaska as much as we do. Of course, if you’re planning a trip, we want you to stay with us here at No See Um, but we know you’ll enjoy all the information rounded up on this site. 6. Trout Fishing Alaska – Yes, this site is trout-centric, and it’s not the snazziest presentation on the Internet, but it’s a rock-solid source for all things trout. Cutthroat, steelhead and bow are all covered along with updated information about licenses and stamps. No, you won’t find anything here about salmon, but the tips and techniques are focused on every type of trout that […]

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