Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
March 26th, 2007

Great Moment in Fly Tying History
By Mike Gerharz

As our American Philosopher George Santayana pointed out, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

Though this is important with any activity, it is even more important with Fly Tying. Consider this newly discovered scroll. It is generally thought that our first written descriptions of Fly Fishing date from the 2nd Century BC and describe Macedonians using flies made of red wool and feathers. A scroll, recently discovery in the Cairo library, gives reason to alter that view. It seems that fly tying was done much earlier and was widely practiced in the ancient world. Here is an initial rough translation of the text:

"In the fall of 1283 BC, I, UrsusDCCXVII, was working a job as a busboy on a cruise trireme out of Crete. Late one night, after most of the free born citizens and slaves had gone to bed, there were still a few Kings and Heroes hanging out in the lounge playing Buke Euxre and discussing fly tying. I had just cleared an empty wine skin, when Hector ordered up the X of Hearts and said, "Our Trojan neck hackles are the best in the ancient world."

Not being one to let such comments pass, Achilles plucked a feather from the crest of his helmet, held it up, and said, "Boy, just one of our Greek saddle hackles is worth more than a whole flock of the sickly buzzards you Trojans call game cocks!"

Agamemnon said, "Helen's won fair and square in last night's Poxre game. Keep her. But, by Zeus, Achilles is right about our Greek saddle hackles!"

Priam shouted, "Boolian Manure!" They all drew their swords.

That was it. It was not a face that launched a thousand ships; it was a feather. The story about Helen was made up by Homer 200-300 years later. Though it would seem hard to believe that all that trouble started over fly hackles, it isn't if you know how serious the Greeks were about their tying materials, especially Achilles. He had it in for Hector from then on.

(The scroll is crumbled here.)

"... when Hector and Achilles were both dead. Ulysses and the remaining Greeks made fish bait out of the remaining Trojans.

(Blurred text here.) the Dark Ages, a monk mistranslated "fish bait" as "fishing flies." The original Greek word is clearly the one used for live or cut bait. The Greek word for fishing flies is entirely different. Yet, that was how it got out that the Greeks made flies out of the Trojans. Actually, no-one ever did make a fly out of a Trojan.

If you don't believe me about this, ask Jacobos Eucastor He was skipper of the trireme.

Now your Romans had some great dry..."

(The rest of the scroll is managled.) ~ Mike Gerharz


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