Fly fishing is an interesting sport and artificial flies play a big role in it. With each coming day there is a growing number of people participating in the sport. When people start out fly fishing they usually just buy all of the gear that they need, including their flies.
Let’s dive right in.
How Artificial Flies Are Made
Once people get hooked on fly fishing they often start thinking about making their own flies as a way to stay involved with the sport during the off-season months.
Even Children Can Learn
While some flies can be tricky to make others are actually well within the abilities of the average fly fisher. Even children can learn to tie them and this is an excellent way to get them involved in the sport.
The History of Artificial Flies
The earliest description of tying flies dates back to the 2nd century. Macedonian anglers, fishing on the Astraeus River, had devised a method of fly fishing using artificial flies.
These Macedonian fly fishermen started with a hook and then tied red-dyed wool around the hook. They would then tie small feathers onto the red wool to complete the artificial fly. Apparently these fishermen were quite successful with their primitive flies.
A New Level
18th century American fly fishermen took the design of the artificial fly to a new level while studying the trout streams of the New York Catskill Mountains.
These fishermen discovered that their success with fly fishing could be greatly improved by designing flies that mimicked the native insects around the stream.
Fooling the Fish
These artificial flies successfully fooled the trout into thinking that a real insect had landed on the water. This knowledge gave rise to studying insect hatches to determine which fly would be most successful.
Different flies are successful on different water at different times.
Advances Are Made
Artificial flies were originally made using natural materials like feathers, fur, wool and similar materials. Most flies are now made using synthetic materials.
Barbless Hooks Are Used
Another recent development in artificial fly design has been the use of the barbless hook. Many fly fishers practice “catch and release” and extracting a barbed hook from a fish after landing it can be quite difficult.
While barbless hooks make it somewhat more challenging to keep the fish on the hook they are easier to extract – from the fish or the angler!
An Overwhelming Choice
Artificial flies are now made in thousands of designs and styles. The number of choices can be quite overwhelming to new fly fishers.
The Basics of Making Artificial Flies Have Not Changed
All flies have certain basic characteristics though, and despite newer materials and more choices, the basics of artificial fly manufacturing have not changed much in two thousand years of fly fishing.
Artificial Flies All Start with a Hook
All artificial flies start with a hook. The hook is then disguised to resemble an actual insect that the target fish eat or to attract the target fish with color, motion, etc.
The materials that the hook is decorated with have changed over the years but some of the classic designs have not.
Wool, fur and feathers were once common choices for artificial flies. Newer materials include plastic, mylar, foam and metals. These materials are either tied or glued onto the hook in special patterns to attract fish.
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