Fly & Coarse Tackle from the 1400’s to the Mid-1800’s
Welcome to Historic Angling Enterprises. I hope you will find this
site a “window” to our collective angling past, and that you share my
interest in the history of fishing, the equipment available in different
eras, and the techniques used by those who fly or coarse fished the
waters in prior centuries.
We supply historically correct spade and blind-eye hooks, “antique”
flies tied by us to reproduce specific historic patterns from earlier
eras, horsehair fly lines and natural fiber coarse fishing lines, and
other original and reproduction fishing tackle from ancient times to
the Mid-1800’s…. for re-enactors, historians, or anglers who just want
to sample a bit of angling history.
Historic Angling Enterprises is dedicated to furthering a better
understanding the history of fly fishing and coarse (bait) fishing. To
that end this site will be constantly modified as historical materials
are added over the coming weeks and months.
As a bit of background, one of the ways I practice antique angling is
as a “re-enactor.” To the modern fisherman that will make little
sense, perhaps, but like many thousands of men, women, and
children in the United States and indeed, around the world, I find
great pleasure in attempting to replicate, in every aspect that is
reasonably possible, life in earlier eras. I personally regularly engage
in reenactment activities related the time of the French and Indian
War, the Long Hunter era, the American Revolution, and the
American Fur Trade. To that end I go forth, alone and also with other
kindred spirits, to the mountains, forests and other wild places, fully
clothed and equipped for an earlier era, down to the last detail,
including the food I intend to consume. It is or should be a
challenging learning experience and a great deal of fun.
And when one adds the element of fishing to the reenactment
equation, it gives a one a very good education about what anglers
living and fishing in earlier centuries encountered in their pursuit of
our finned adversaries.
You will find, I believe, that the colonial angler, whether it be George
Washington or some nameless urchin living with parents along a
creek on the frontier; or the mountain man of the next century
following in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, had
virtually the same motivation and used much the same approach as
we do today. Believe me when I say that little has changed over the
centuries when it is man vs. fish, other than the composition of our
equipment, and that using gear and techniques from those
earlier times adds immeasurably to the experience when one is
trying to fish exactly as they did.
So come walk with me and my ‘fellow-travelers’ as we journey
through centuries of angling fact and conjecture. Join us as we strive
to understand and recreate, to the extent reasonably possible, flies
and fishing tackle from eras ancient to reasonably modern: from the
time of the Roman teacher Aelian’s writing about fly fishing as then
purportedly practiced in Macedonia (circa 180 A.D.); the text of The
Treatyse of Fysshynge Wyth an Angle (the printed edition of 1496
and the earlier manuscript from about 1450); the chef Thomas
Barker’s The Art of Angling, 1651; the immortal Izaak Walton’s first
edition of The Compleat Angler,1653/ and the fifth edition which
included his fishing (and drinking) companion Charles Cotton’s fly
fishing and fly tying instructions, 1676); Richard and Charles Bowler
(The Art of Angling, 1747 and later editions); and Thomas Best and
Capt. Williamson and the Boston merchant John Rowe, and George
W. Bethune (from his 1847 edition and marginal notes of Walton and
and on and on— the legions of angling authors: those of merit and
those of fluff are seemingly without end!
Also, questions, observations and ideas are always welcome, so
please let me hear from you. In the meantime, join us by the
fireplace, as you consider our wares.
Me while Period Fishing in Minnesota
Something worth viewing on the web: A great Video produced by the Staff at Mount Vernon: George Washington’s Mount Vernon staff filmed me discussing the Washington kit in their collection and my reproduction and use of the same.
Several years ago I traveled to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. I had been invited to stay on site for three days, give classes on aspects of period fishing to staff, and a speech on Colonial Angling and General Washington’s Pocket Fishing Kit, and even better, to interact with the public as I fished along the Potomac River using tackle identical to that used by Washington.
Those three days at Mount Vernon were absolutely enjoyable and very educational. The staff is dedicated, the facilities amazing….the Ladies who saved the Estate are owed a tremendous debt for they have preserved a national treasure! And, speaking of fishing, I actually caught an interesting assortment of fish…..sunfish, a stripped bass, and a very feisty channel catfish…..much to the amusement of the public in attendance.
I must admit, however, that a young girl from Ohio caught the largest sunfish. But the catfish managed to bend the cane pole I was using double, and yet the horse hair main line and the silk twist ground line did not fail and he was successfully landed…. and later released. The photograph below is of me sampling some fine champagne on the back lawn of the Washington’s home after a ‘hard’ day of fishing. If you have not yet visited Mount Vernon, for Heavens sake, please do so, it is a marvelous place indeed.
And just below is a photograph of the extremely feisty channel catfish that I caught with a bit of worm for bait while using the Washington horsehair/silk twist line on a cane pole. He/she was a very healthy fish and managed to bend my cane pole double as I fought for control and finally landed him/her. After a few pictures it was released to grow some more.
ORDERING: More complete instructions are below, but to make it simple you may call me at 903 594-8844 or e-mail me at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply mail me an inquiry addressed to Paul W. Jones, 404 South Price Street, Troup, Texas 75789.
Please, before sending money by Paypal or otherwise, please communicate with me about what you wish to purchase so that I may confirm that everything is in stock.
FISHING ITEMS FOR SALE:
Now Available on a Limited Basis: A fine reproduction of the Washington fishing kit. The ‘tackle box’ is a quality Japanned tin that is a replica of Washington’s own fishing kit now kept at Mount Vernon. It contains, as does his original, a two-ply twisted black horsehair line wrapped around short stave reel, green silk twist wrapped (as is the case in his kit) around a portion of brown paper, two pieces of beeswax, and an assortment of eighteen period correct spade and blind eye hooks. The silk twist was his ‘ground line,’ and was to be connected the horsehair ‘main line.’ The ground line was attached to the hook, while the main line was attached to the rod, or cane or limb or whatever he might choose to use as his fishing ‘rod.’
Pricing for this complete museum quality reproduction of Washington’s kit is $170.00 plus $9.20 of Priority Mail shipping, for a total of $179.20.
Please note that these kits are only available on a first come, first serve basis and at present, there are no finished kits available, although I expect to have some shortly. Keep checking, or advise me directly of your interest and I will put you on the list
Therefore, please contact me before ordering or sending payment so that I can confirm availability.
The photograph above is of original Washington kit….the reproduction contains an assortment of similar hooks, and the silk twist is three ply rather than two ply and is of a darker green shade (it is freshly dyed, and unlike that in the kit, new and not faded from age), the two portions of beeswax are slightly larger than those in the original kit.
Horse Hair for Making Period Fly Lines and Snoods for Flies- Individual Hanks (about 31” long), $8.00 each.
We also carry the wonderful illustrated instructions published by Chris Steward, which I strongly recommend (even if you have attended one of my presentations), for making horse hair lines. $8.00 per copy.
Hook Wire – Packages of hook wire, fifty pieces in each pack, available in three sizes: For Trout, Sunfish & Other Medium Fish- 0.55 mm (hook sizes 10-14); For Trout, Sunfish & Other Medium Fish – 0.75 mm (hook sizes 6-10); and For Bass, Catfish, Salmon & Other Large Fish- 1.50 mm (hook sizes 1/0-4). Written instructions about how to make period hooks are included. Up to two or more hooks can be made from each piece of wire for the smaller sizes of wire, and one and perhaps two for the larger sizes of wire.
Please note that I am down to my last few packages of the 1.50 mm wire and when they are sold, it will no longer be available.
$2.00 for each package of the wire.
Replica Pin and Template Benders for Period Hook Making. Not available at present!
Quill Floats, are period correct to the 1400’s (or earlier).
Version one, historically the oldest variety, has a quill loop for the line at the bottom of the float.
Version two has a wire loop.
The second photograph shows the floats with line. Note the separate section of quill thought which the line is passed before that quill section is pushed onto the top of the quill. Very little weight is required for the floats to ‘stand’ up right in the water.
Version one, $12.00 plus postage. Version two $10.00 plus postage. Small quill float (4 to about 6 inches), either style $8.00 each plus postage.
I personally fish with a quill float. It is period correct and they are very sensitive to bites.
Period Fish Hooks (Eyeless)
The typical hook for fly and coarse fishing from the most ancient of times to at or just after the 1850’s would have been eyeless. There were exceptions, even in antiquity, but rest assured they were VERY rare. Eyeless hooks were typically either “spade end” or “blind-eye.”
I have Greek hooks in my collection dating to 2800 B.C., and Roman hooks dating from 100 (or earlier) B.C. to 300 A.D, of both varieties. Note the Greek and Roman hooks above. The hook on the far left is a very early example of a blind-eye hook, and immediately to its right, a spade end hook from the same era. The hook in the photo to the right is Roman, and is a spade end. Note the flattened area at the top of the shank. Blind-eye hooks are without a flattened end and were often tapered. Spade end hooks are those with a flattened area where an eye would be on the modern hook.
We furnish a knot card with instructions for tying line to eyeless hooks with each hook order.
Eyeless Spade End Hooks For Sale
Set of Eight on brain-tan for kit….. $4.50
Single Spade End Hooks, sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 each……………….$0.40
Photo of Spade End Hooks, Snelled Hook, Coiled Silkworm Gut
Snelled “Bait” Hooks, sizes 4-12: with linen or other period correct line but NOT gut)……..$1.00 each. Tied to Cutty Hunk Irish Linen……..$1.50 each. This is the way to go when you want to be able to quickly change or add a hook to your coarse fishing line. I personally carry a large selection in my kit so that I can easily add or change a hook when fishing.
Early 20th Century Blind Eye Hooks, perfect for tying period flies , $0.45 each or $4.00 for ten. Inquire as to available sizes and styles.
From left to right below below (1) Size eight, (2) Size 3, Kirby, Bronze, (3) Size 2, Limerick, Black, (4) Size 4, Black, (5) Size 5, Kirby, Black.
+++Greek and Roman Bronze Fish Hooks, originals dating from 2000 B.C. to 300 A.D., Supply extremely limited. Priced from $40.00 and up each. Serious inquiries only. Inquire as to availability and selection.
Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk Thread
Silk thread is used to ‘serve’ knots or when making loops in horse hair lines or snoods. It is also what I use when I am ‘snelling’ a hook with a waxed linen or silk snood. It is a must use period correct item when tying historic flies. Pearsall’s is imported from England. The colors are bright, but when wet they darken which gives a historic edge and appearance to flies, unlike the modern fibered threads which do not change. Color available is White. $5.00 per spool.
Horse Hair Fly Lines
Twisted lines to order: Six to twelve Foot Tapered “fly lines,” with connecting loop on one or both ends (specify). $30.00 each. Thirteen to twenty foot lines are priced at $45.00.
As noted, these are ‘twisted’ lines and were the most common variety of horse hair lines available in earlier eras. On special orders, we will make longer lines. Inquire as to pricing.
Braided lines are now also available. These are, with the exception of the six foot lines, tapered. These lines come in lengths of 6 feet, 16 feet, and 22 feet, and are priced at $15.00. $22.00, and $30.00 respectively.
++++We also have, at present and for a limited time, braided horse hair ‘snoods’ (leaders for want of a better term), with three (or more) hairs. Larger sizes (more hairs in the snood) are available on a very limited basis…inquire before ordering! These ‘leaders’ are about twelve to fifteen inches in length and can be used as a ground line and tied directly to the hook, for snelled hooks, or for snoods on flies that you tie yourself. $2.00 each, ten or more, $1.75 each.
The photo above is Paul demonstrating the making of a horse hair line at Fort Toulouse in Alabama.
New and Unique item:
Two ply fourteen hair horse hair Coarse Fishing Lines (like George Washington’s personal hair line).
Approximately ten feet long, with loop in one end so you may easily connect you silk twist or other ground line. $58.00 each. Extra snoods for this line are $6.00 each. In the photograph below, the Line is on right, an extra snood on left. Postage is extra.
Period (1650-1840) “Antique” Fishing Flies (Due to health limitations occasioned by a recent stroke, when the present supply of tied flies is exhausted, further supply will be very limited or even unavailable).
Flies pictured above, left to right, top to bottom include Bowlker’s King’s Fisher, Chetham’s Yellow Dun, Cotton’s White Gnat, Cotton’s Whirling Dun, Chetham’s MacKerill, and Cotton’s Camlet.
Typically tied to Barker, Cotton, or Chetham (circa 1650 and later), or Bowlker patterns, circa 1747 to 1829, otherwise generic to period. On special request we can attempt to duplicate virtually any historical antique pattern, whether Dame Berners, Barker, Cotton, Chetham, or otherwise. All flies are tied with horse hair snoods (snells) on eyeless hooks. Where the original dressings call for feathers from protected birds or fur from protected animals, reasonable substitutions in materials will be made.
Flies with Horse Hair Snood (Snell)………$4.00 each, ten or more, $3.00 each.
Trout below, taken and released in a spring creek in Eastern Washington with a Thomas Barker pattern first tied by him in the 1640’s and described in his book published in the early 1650’s.
For those who prefer to hand-tie their own flies, we supply Cobbler’s Wax at $4.00. Specify dark or light.
Below, as featured in The Birmingham News from a photograph taken by a staff photographer at Fort Toulouse, is the reproduction of Barker’s Oak Fly, Circa 1651, tied to horse hair snoods.
Silk Worm Gut Leader Material Now on Sale!!
While they last, antique silk worm gut leaders, 3 feet long, looped at each end, available in 10, 15, 20 and 25 pound (dry) test…………..regularly $3.00 for one; $2.50 each for four or more mix or match.
Sheepskin Fly Book (photo below)
Handmade with leather ties, correct to 1600’s or earlier……… $21.00. Supply very limited.
Period Coarse (Bait) Fishing Kits, Complete
Oval and Aged Kits…
Photograph below is of other kits we offer at present.
“Aged” Tin Box, contains linen line, 8 hooks on brain-tan, 6 sinkers, and 1 period correct cork float. Once again available! $21.00. Very limited supply.
Small Tin Box with hinged lid, contains linen line, 5 hooks on brain tan, an assortment of sinkers, and 1 period correct cork float. $14.00.
“Fat” Oval Box, contains linen line, 8 hooks on brain-tan, 6 sinkers, and 1 period correct cork float. $18.00 each.
Plain Rectangular Tin, contains linen line, 8 hooks on brain-tan, 6 sinkers, and 1 period correct cork float. $18.00 each.
Kits in Oval Brass Container, Oval Tin (large/flat) Container, Oval Copper Container, each kit contains line, 8 hooks on brain-tan, 6 or more sinkers, 1 period correct float. Tin $32.00/Brass $34.00/Copper $36.00.
*******New offering: Plain unjapaned tin, a true and correct copy of the tin from George Washington’s (fishing kit) like the one in the Mount Vernon collection, BUT…. without it being Japanned. This “Plain” Washington kit contains Cuttyhunk fishing line, 12 hooks, weights, silk twist for use as a ground line, a portion of bee’s wax, and a cork float: $68.00, plus $9.20 for priority mailing for a total of $77.20. Supply is limited.
“Cast” Holders/Line Winders, Wood with brass or steel fittings. Ready Fitted with line, hook, weight and cork. One “set” holder (see photo on right for a one set and three set holder), $25.00; two set $30.00, three set $35.00, four set $40.00, five set $45.00. All come with blind eye hooks to silk, linen or hemp snells, silk, linen, or hemp lines, weights and one float. Add $6.00 for each fly with hair snell substituted for hook, weight & float, tied to silk line. NOT PRESENTLY AVAILABLE!
Waxed Linen Line: 5 yards, 10 yards, and 15 yards for $4.00/$6.00/$8.00 respectively.
Unwaxed Linen Line: 5 yards, 10 yards, 15 yards for $1.50/$2.50/$4.50 respectively.
Silk Twist, like the line found in the George Washington fishing kit, green, $6.00.
I also have an assortment of 5 yard spools of silk twist in various colors. $4.00 per spool. If interested, please inquire as to available colors.
Also available, +++Cuttyhunk Irish Linen Fishing Line ++++(Rare and Period Correct). $0.75 per foot. This line is not for everyone, but if you can afford a bit, give it a try. Nothing on the market today is more historically correct. This is the line that I use whenever coarse fishing, whether with pole, hand-line, trot-line, or limb-line. I will send one inch samples of the available sizes for the cost of a first class envelope!
Approximately eighteen feet of green Cuttyhunk line on small wood stave reel. $15.00 plus postage.
Below: Approximately 20 feet plain Cuttyhunk line on small wood stave reet. $18.00 plus postage. This is my favorite variety of cuttyhunk….size and color!
The photograph below is of un-waxed linen line in fifteen and thirty foot hanks.
Floats: Traditional English Quill and Balsa Floats, hand-made in England, $8.00 each. Very limited supply.
NEW: Cork Floats for $1.00 each or six for $5.00! From left to right, top to bottom, size 8, 7, 6, 5, Special (at present the ‘special’ is not available), 4, and 3. You may mix or match sizes in the six for $5.00 special.
Fly Tying Wax: A period correct tacky wax packaged in a tin. I use this when tying all of my flies. $5.00 per tin.
Special/Limited Offerings: I am now selling some of my English brass Winches/Reels. Prices range from $40 and up and including postage. Contact me if interested.
A Recommendation (available from ABEBooks or Amazon):
The Fly-Fisher’s Craft: The Art and History (Hardcover) I strongly recommend this book….his sections on tying early fly patterns, hook making, making horse hair line and snoods, and the chapter on making a loop rod are very valuable.
By Darrel Martin
Not Available from Historic Angling … you must order via Amazon or other Sellers.
In The Fly-Fisher’s Craft, noted angling author Darrel Martin brings his decades of research, hundreds of color photographs, and years of experimentation to bear on the fascinating evolution of fly fishing contrivances, from the practical to the fanciful, from the dawn of written history until today. Martin shows where these technologies were first documented, why they came to be, and details how even today we can burnish our own handmade hooks, furl a horsehair leader, and fashion a functioning rod from readily available wood. He also documents the intriguing art and evolution of fly tying in particular detail, from the earliest documented methods and materials to some of today’s most modern patterns, which still inevitably draw on the pedigree of their ancient forebears. What’s more, all of these natural marvels still work today, just as they did when Izaak Walton retired to compose his classic treatise, The Compleat Angler.
In The Fly-Fisher’s Craft, we discover that everything old is new again, that good ideas never die, and that the surprising sophistication and wisdom of those who came before has never been more relevant for today’s practitioners of the gentle art of fly fishing.”More Fine Fishing Books from Historic Angling and Friends
First, please be aware that the prices for all of our products are subject to change without notice. We will immediately make any change in pricing on this site. We will honor pricing on pending orders, but not otherwise.
If you have any questions about your needs or your desired order, please e-mail us at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org . You may also call me with questions (I greatly prefer conversation to typing replies): 903 594-8844.
Prepayment is now required before I will ship your order. My willingness to trust my customers remains strong, but recent events have given me pause. You may send a personal check, money order, or use Paypal.
Be sure to include shipping costs as described below. Make all checks payable to Paul W. Jones, and mail to Paul W. Jones, Historic Angling, 404 South Price Street, Troup, Texas 75789. All prices subject to change without notice. We do accept Paypal! For Paypal payments, use our e-mail address of email@example.com .
Shipping costs: All goods are mailed using U.S. Priority Mail., Minimum fee, due with order, is $9.00. If shipping charges exceed that sum, the balance will be billed to the customer.
We will gladly refund your purchase price, excluding shipping charges, if you are not satisfied with any product, provided, however, that you return the product(s) to me within 5 business days of delivery to you, post-paid, in the same undamaged condition as when it/they left my shop. If you prefer a replacement instead of a refund, it is your choice. Always include your day and evening telephone numbers, and if available, an e-mail address.
Thank you for your consideration of our products. If you have any questions or comments, please write or call me at 903 594-8844.
Links of our Friends and others we find of merit:
The American Museum of Fly Fishing. This museum is a treasure and the collections it maintains are priceless to those with an interest in the history of fly fishing. I urge you to support this fine institution by joining. http://www.amff.com/home.htm
My friend Andrew Marshall has launched his Charles Cotton blog site. Please take the time to view it, and do bookmark the page as he will be adding a lot more photographs of the flies. Andrew often hand-ties (without using a vise), and goes the extra mile to do it as properly as Cotton- himself would have expected. http://seventeenthcenturyflies.blogspot.com
Your Humble Tackle Maker and Fisherman with his Snowshoes and A Fly Rod
In the February Snows of Michigan
Hope Springs Eternal, Even When the Trout Have Better Sense