Posted by: nativeiowan | April 11, 2009

the history of fly fishing

I recently got introduced to the ancient and fine art of fly fishing. It’s 100% insane, addictive and, from a food fishing point of view, totally irrational.

It all began…

Imagine, our long petrified, semi Bipedal fore-bearers… they are slowly making the transition from tree to land, from a four posted stance to two, from gathering and gathering to gathering and killing, from a creature at nature’s whim to a the self made monster in control of his environment we know today… this noble ancestor of ours slowly learned and invented… he learned to use fire. He invented the tooth pick to get the nasty bits of carbonized food from tween his teeth. He eventually left the berries and nuts that were seasonal and learned to follow the herds of wild animals. He invented false teeth and a fire sharpened stick.

These same animals that man learned to hunt had at one time intimidated our ancient uncles and aunts… With the advent of fire this new dietary supplement, meat,  was actually edible. They wanted meat, liked killing big, wondrous animals and learned to team up against the mightiest and bring them down. And the cooking of the meat allowed our dear cousins to store the excess from their kills for the next day. (the beginning of both wealth and leisure time??)

They invented clubs with which they killed their worthy prey. These were hard to use and dangerous to wield. They fashioned spears with sharp, stone heads. These though better than clubs, were thrown from a rather near proximity with the intention of piercing the heart on the first throw. More often than not it bounced off the horny hide of the furry mammoth… doing little more than pissing this monolithic  bovine off and often causing the death or maim-ment of the would be virile hunters of our long distant tribe. Thus the bows and  arrows of our first archers came into being. They were harder to learn to use than spears but one hell of a lot safer.

So they followed the herds and lived pretty well. They had hides for the covering of the body and early day Guccies and Yeves St. Laurents who told the females what was cool this year. The man hunted, the woman gathered, tended the fires and dropped kids. A fair division of duties.

As is now (Mother Nature has always disliked men) women out numbered men. In the beginning this was bad for women because men could be picky and women needed a mate to fulfill her biological functions. Eventually women got together and decided to get what they wanted by collectively refusing the men their portion of the communal teat rationing.

It worked. women were now in the driver’s seat.

 And eventually the women decided the nomadic way of life was a crock of shit and told the men they were planting their asses in one place. Thus our ancestors left the plains and savannas and began building little communities in hidden valleys and on high peaks.

 All early communities were built with a need for protection. The wild animals (for all mankinds’ inventions) were still a threat. Other, yet nomadic tribes, had a bad propensity to invade the stationary beings, destroying all they had built and dragging the women off and back on the nomadic trail they had forsaken.

Thus the invention/ emergence of a military force was conceived. Modern scholars often believe this to have occurred before the stabilization of stationary life but I am certain it occurred in defense of the woman’s home and for payment of the teat.

These early settlements were always near water. Man had learned early on the value of water and even more the value of the flesh of fish. It was the best of all. Better than mammoth and iguana. better even than stegosaurus tongue.

Fish was the best. But the slippery buggers were hard to catch. First came rocks thrown into the pools. A game angler fromthese days could expend all of his strength in a single afternoon, kill not a single fish, totally fill the tidal pool the fish were attracted to and expire from exhaustion and hunger with out even a respectable nibble on the end of his hurled rocks. Spears were used with better effectiveness. A spear chucking angler could do well for his efforts. Bows and arrows were employed with greater reward. Man, the inventor!

Thus we have some early grand-sire parked by some body of water feeling rather pleased with himself. Their community is fortified and protected. The kitchen sink has been invented and the women are happy. Our grand -sire gets his fair share of the communal teat and contentment has settled in. They had long since domesticated animals. Hunting was used as a pass time and a show of prowess. Many plants, also, had been domesticated. No longer the gathering, gathering of old days. Now they had gardens and fences. Grain silos dotted the landscape.

This old bugger felt good. It was that detrimental sort of “I got it good” feeling. “I gottit so damn good I gotta do sumting to fuck it up” sorta feeling… It was that BIG “I got it good, gonna fuck it up good” feeling.

It was this feeling as well as the inventor in man that led him to twisting some spider webs together and whittling a hook outa bone. It was time sitting heavy on his shoulders. It was a contented wife that only found more to complain about. The fenced in garden and a herd of animals made life too  good for her. She was becoming impregnated a dozen times in her life and a solid four of the kids were making it to adulthood. She had a fire in the kitchen and a sink in the clam shell. She was showing signs of holding back the magic teat and man, in his accumulated wisdom, said “I’m going fishing”.

Not the stone hurling, spear chucking arrow shooting sorta fishing that feed the tribe. No, this was different. This was important. Our ancient forefather was treating himself to something akin to the first christmas present… the first “this is going to be great and just for me”… he was going to cast a line in the waters and lazily wait for the elusive fish to bite his pro-offered lure and give our original hand on line angler a chance to tell the world’s first true fish story.

And it worked. As women slowly emasculated the male. As she held back the teat more and more often. As she complained more and more about nothing at all… our noble ancestor spent more and more time lazily casting a line upon the water.

He learned much, quickly. He noted the seasons of the fish. They changed in unison with the moon. He noted the variety of bait and lures which worked. He improved his original line. No longer a sticky ball of spider webs. He was no chump (or chimp). We quickly saw the use of processed silk, polyester and kevlar. We saw our uncle the inventor tie his line to a willow branch. We saw him take a bit of balsa wood and use it as a bobber. We saw him bend the baby’s diaper pin and fashion the first steel hook. He stole some of the old ladies nail polish and dolled the hook up a bit.

Through all of this man had effectively made the art of fishing more specialized, more intricate and much harder. Ol’ stone hurling uncle neadertal was often more effective than our now modern angler. But catching fish was no longer the point! The point was to get out of the house and find a substitute for the now totally refused teat. The point was to gain another “fishing story”.

And the inventions continued… a wooden cleat on the side of the willow rod to hold extra line. Better lures, longer lines, stronger hooks.

Somewhere in here man got on a floating log and called it a boat. He tied vines together and called it a net. He was able to bring in tons of fish. They had fish coming out of their ears. Fished pickled, fish smoked, fish dried and fish baked. Fish was no longer more special than the iguana tongue or the gonads from the stripped marsupial long tailed monkey. Fish became a commoner’s food. And the fisherman became a commoner as well.

But this bothered him little. The pleasure received from casting a line on the water was enough. The rush of feeling a fish take the hook was better than the teat. Fuck the world… fish and fishing was still the best.

And to prove it some enterprising grand son of the first fisherman decided he’d show them all. He’d invent a type of fishing which would be so hard, such a waste of time and so foolish that everyone, including the gentry, the nobles and even the women, would want to do it. But it needed some thinking… what could cover the base criterion? What would meet the broad based objectives…

Taking it back to the basics our noble inventor returned to the long disused tools of his fore-father fishermen… more of the sticky spider web. But this was finely twisted and rubbed with wax. The original willow rod had split from the dry heat. He cleaned this up, bound it together with the spider wire and made it longer by making it into a two piece unit. Next the  utilitarian cleat of the old days was replaced by a mechanical reel of such a design that even the most dexterous member of society found it clumsy. To top it off our maniacal fisherman decided that only the smallest of bait and lures should be used on this apparatus. Nothing larger than the fly of May would be allowed on the end of the line.

These items: the too long, flimsy rod, the very, very thin line, the clumsy reel and the light lure constituted man’s first  fly fishing rig.

It was an instant hit. Leaders of the community (usually militarily inclined individuals) decided that the employ of these rigs and even the waters where they were cast should belong only to the hierarchy of the community.

Wars were waged over a good trout stream. The teat was forsaken for the elusive salmon. Population decreased. But man went on fishing. Women took to pretending they were interested just for the opportunity of being near a man. Fishing had reached its pinnacle. The teat was no longer number one… fly-fishing had replaced the ever impotent mammary gland.

Modern archeological digs have unearthed finely preserved rods and reels of this fashion. They were amazed to find that the ancient tools varied little from the bamboo rods and wooden reels still sold in uncle hogie’s bait n’ tackle.

 That’s where I got mine and I’m loading it up and heading  out to see what’s biting today.. I know that I’ll hook my arm and the back of my head a couple times. Come up with a couple magnificent tangles, catch no fish but it’ll be fun.

Wanna come?


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