Fly Fishing ca 200 AD


Over lunch I was refueling my enthusiasm for our work by leafing through Trout of the World. In it, I found this first account of fly fishing — in Greece around 200 AD, quoted from Claudius Aelianus:

“Between the cities of Beroe and Thessalonica flows a river called the Astraeus, and in this river are fish with spotted skins….Flies seek food above the river but do not escape the attention of the spotted fish swimming below. When the fish observe a fly on the surface, they swim up stealthily, coming upward like a shadow, open their mouths and seize the flies.

Although the fishermen understand this, they cannot use the flies as bait, for when one touches them, they lose their natural coloring and fish have nothing to do with them. But the fishermen have planned another snare for the spotted fishes. They wrap ruby-colored wool about their hooks and wind about this wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles the color of wax. With rods of about six feet, they cast their snare and the fish, attracted and made foolish by the colors come straight to take it.” – from Prosek’s Trout of the World.


Where is the Astraeus? Nobody knows. But I’ve caught big browns from autumn lakes that look like his spotted fish. That book’s 100 paintings brought it back home to me how lucky we are to work with amazing wild fish (and a few transplants from around the world).

Here are a few photos of my favorite fish: the Golden Trout of the Kern Plateau. We practiced double hauling in the massive meadows, then used a trekking pole to present the fly.