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 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 .... the 1400's 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 and coarse fishermen living and fishing several centuries ago 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 200 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 Cotton’s text) and on 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 us hear from you. In the meantime, join us by the fireplace, as you consider our wares.
Period Fishing in Minnesota
FISHING ITEMS FOR SALE:
Question: Would anyone be interested in me offering period fly-tying kits for Barker, Cotton, Chetham, or Bowlker patterns? My thoughts are that the kits, in addition to having detailed tying instructions, would contain enough materials (fur, feathers, thread, tinsels if called for in a particular pattern, and Etc.) for at least three or four flies of a given pattern, together with blind eye fly hooks and snoods with a prepared loop. Pricing, depending on pattern and materials, would range from about $10 to $15.00 per kit. If interested, please e-mail me.
***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.****
Special One of a Kind Item: Thumb reel reproduction made by Michael Hackney. $250.00 including priority shipping.
Coming Soon*****I have decided to offer a reproduction of the Washington fishing kit. They will be in a fine reproduction of the Japanned tin 'tackle box' as it is called in his journals, and will include a two-ply twisted horse hair line wrapped around a short stave reel, silk twist wrapped (as is the case in his kit) around a portion of brown paper, two pieces of beeswax, and a good assortment of period correct spade and blind eye hooks. The silk twist was his 'ground line,' as noted above, which was connected to the horse hair main line. The ground line held the hook, while the main line was attached to the limb or whatever he might choose to use as his rod. Pricing is up in the air at present as the cost of the Japanned tin and the horse hair line (black horse hair and not white as would have ordinarily been the case in that era, in an unusual twist pattern) remains unresolved....but it should be priced some where in the $75 to $85 dollar range, and lower if possible. Should you be interested in obtaining this reproduction, please let me know as they will be a limited 'edition' and available on a first come basis, and when they, and the hook collection that I will be robbing to match his hooks is gone, that will be the end of the project.*****See photograph of the original Washington kit below.
Horse Hair for Making Period Fly Lines and Snoods for Flies- Individual Hanks (about 31” long), $6.00 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.
At present I also have a limited quantity of second/third grade horse hair hanks priced at $2.50 each. This is perfectly useful for making angling lines, but the quality is simply not of the first grade. Limited quantity....$2.50 per hank while it lasts!
Hook Wire - Packages of hook wire, fifty pieces in each pack, available in four 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); For Bass, Catfish, Salmon & Other Large Fish- 1.50 mm (hook sizes 1/0-4); and For Bass, Catfish, Salmon & Other Large Fish- 1.65 mm (hook sizes 4/0-1/0). Written instructions about how to make period hooks 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. $2.50 for each package. Please note that I am down to my last few packages of the two larger (1.50 and 1.65mm wire) and when they are sold, it will no longer be available.
Replica Pin and Template Benders for Period Hook Making. Pin Benders, $15.00 each, Template Benders, $20.00 each. Very limited availability, so contact me before ordering.
German translation of Walton/Cotton
We are pleased to be able to offer the first German translation of Walton/Cotton, Part II, Instructions how to Angle for a Trout or Grayling, in a Clear Stream. 120 pages; 24 historic engravings b/w, 3 plates b/w, 65 colour drawings of all 65 flies; gilt stamped cover; ribbon marker from the German publisher, Verlag J. Schück, Nürnberg. For the very first time ever, this edition features beautiful color drawings of all 65 flies which Cotton described or sketched in 1679. In this volume you have precise reproductions of Cotton’s patterns. The fly drawings follow exactly the order of Cotton's descriptions, so one does not need to read German to fully understand these illustrations, especially if one has a copy of Cotton with which to compare his description with the drawings. This edition is a copy of the 19th century effort by one J. Schumacher to translate the third Ephemera edition of The Compleat Angler from 1853 for the P. Salomon & Co. However in 1859, just before the printed volume was released, a fire destroyed nearly the entire edition. Only about a dozen of the books survived the fire. Verlag J. Shück secured a copy of this rare volume, and obtained permission to reproduce it. So, some 320+ years after Charles Cotton wrote Part II and over 140 years after Schumacher's original German translation, we have this most excellent volume. The color drawings of Cotton’s flies are alone worth the price. I only have one copy remaining for sale!! $50.00 plus shipping.
Single and Double Quill Floats, period correct to the 1400’s, made in England. As my English float maker is now deceased, this items are temporarily unavailable. However, I will soon be offering single quill floats again so 'stay tuned.'
Tin Container, (same size and shape of the brass container), Much like that used by George Washington for his coarse fishing tackle. $20.00 each. The manufacturer is no longer making this item as they can not get the proper tin, so when my last few containers are sold, this item will no longer be available.
The Colonial Angler's Manual of Flyfishing & Fly Tying.
Hard bound copies are $15.00 plus shipping, $12.00 plus shipping for the paper back edition. My supply of the hard bound copies is very limited.... as of now I have no more than three or four copies remaining and I have only one copy in paperback!!!
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 1800 B.C., and Roman hooks dating from 100 to 300 A.D, of both varieties. Note the Greek hooks to the left. 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. ***See link section below for our personal library and document collection, including two illustrations from 1780 showing hook connections, Etc.***
Greeks Bearing Fish....!
Eyeless Spade End Hooks
Set of Eight on brain-tan for kit..... $5.00
Single Spade End Hooks, sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 each...................... .$0.50
Photo of Spade End Hooks, Snelled Hook, Coiled Silkworm Gut
Bulk Spade End Hooks, mix or match, minimum 50 hooks, $0.35 each.
Snelled “Bait” Hooks, sizes 4-12: with linen or other period correct line but NOT gut)........$1.00 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 , $0.50 each or $4.00 for ten. Inquire as to available sizes and styles.
Roman Bronze Fish Hooks, originals dating from 100 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.
Special Spade Hooks!!
I just secured a first rate collection of spade hooks from an English collector. I will be offering these on this site as and when I can get them photographed...I may be able to tie a fly, but taking a decent photo appears to be beyond my ability....so be patient. These hooks are priced at $0.50 each, or ten for $4.00, or fifty for $0.35 each. A majority of these hooks are black, and some are in bronze finish.
The first offerings are below. From left to right (1) Size eight, (2) Size 3, Kirby, Bronze, (3) Size 2, Limerick, Black, (4) Size 4, Black, (5) Size 5, Kirby, Black.
Horse Hair Lines
The photo above is Paul demonstrating the making of a horse hair line at Fort Toulouse.
Period (1650-1840) "Antique" Fishing Flies
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.
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.
Sheepskin Fly Book (photo below)
Handmade with leather ties, correct to 1600's or earlier......... $25.00. Supply very limited.
Oval Brass Fishing Box (photo above)
4-5/16" x 3", the perfect case for lines, hooks, floats, and flies....$18.00. As noted above, the Tin Container (same size and shape of the brass container), is much like that used by George Washington for his coarse fishing tackle.....and will soon to be no longer available as the manufacturer can no longer obtain the proper tin material!!! $20.00.
Cast Pewter Weights *** No longer available. We have ordered a new supply and will advise when they are again in stock.
Lead Shot for Weights***, assortment of ten, $1.00.
Kits in Oval Brass Container. Oval Tin (large/flat) Container, Oval Copper Container, each kit contains line, 8 hooks on brain-tan, 6 sinkers, 1 period correct float. Brass $28.00/Tin$26.00/Copper $34.00.
“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. Without hooks, lines, weights, floats , i.e. unfitted, deduct $5.00 from each size. NOT PRESENTLY AVAILABLE!
Hand made Cotton Nets for survival fish trapping (be sure you State permits their use!) in white red or green. Size, when drawn tight, about fourteen feet by three feet. Approximately Limited Quantity available, each $20.00.
Floats: Traditional English Quill and Balsa Floats, hand-made in England, $6.00 each.
Period Correct English hand-made (in England) "Carved" Cork float. Our English maker is now deceased so this item is presently unavailable!
Coming Soon: Quill floats like the one pictured below~!!!
The Fly-Fisher's Craft: The Art and History (Hardcover)
By Darrel Martin
From the back cover: “The act of deceiving a fish has beguiled mankind such that it became an art form passed down the millennia. When considering angling’s rich history, all anglers eventually wonder how we ever managed to fish without graphite rods, synthetic lines, and nylon leaders. But up until only the past few decades, we have gone a-fishing solely with a variety of painstakingly handcrafted devices constructed of natural materials: hand-wrought steel hooks, carefully selected furs and feathers, gut leaders, furled horsehair lines, and wooden loop-rods lashed together.
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.”
About the Author
Darrel Martin, is a retired teacher, and the author of The Fly Fisher's IllustratedDictionary, Micropatterns, and Fly-Tying Methods. He is a contributing editor to Fly Rod & Reel. He has fly-fished in over twenty countries, from Cape Town to Croatia, from the Amazon to Patagonia, from Mozambique to Zambia. He has also presented fly-tying and fly-casting programs in various countries and has designed various tying and 'trouting' tools,including the Dubbing Whirl, the Anvil Signature Scissors, and hook models for Partridge and Daiichi. For several years, he has had a rod-share on the River Test in England, and is one of the few living anglers who has caught English trout on a loop rod with a hair line!
More Fine Fishing Books from Historic Angling and Friends
George Washington's Fishing Kit
A great photograph of George Washington's fishing kit. The truth is that Washington was a coarse fisherman throughout his life, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that preference. Some, with absolutely no evidence, continue to declare that he was a fly fisherman, but that, sadly, is not true. One of his close relatives stated that Washington never fly fished, and all of his business and personal records (and he documented EVERY purchase he made) show that he only purchased coarse tackle for his own use and for the commercial fishing enterprise he ran out of Mount Vernon. If you will take a close look at this image, you will see that Washington used a two-ply horse hair line for his main line, and silk twist for his ground line. The hooks are both spade and blind eye and range in size from a 'cod' hook to a size used for perch.
*****I have decided to offer a reproduction of the Washington fishing kit. They will be in a fine reproduction of the Japanned tin 'tackle box' as it is called in his journals, and will include a two-ply twisted horse hair line wrapped around a short stave reel, silk twist wrapped (as is the case in his kit) around a portion of brown paper, two pieces of beeswax, and a good assortment of period correct spade and blind eye hooks. The silk twist was his 'ground line,' as noted above, which was connected to the horse hair main line. The ground line held the hook, while the main line was attached to the limb or whatever he might choose to use as his rod. Pricing is up in the air at present as the cost of the Japanned tin and the horse hair line (black horse hair and not white as would have ordinarily been the case in that era, in an unusual twist pattern) remains unresolved....but it should be priced some where in the $75 to $85 dollar range, and lower if possible. Should you be interested in obtaining this reproduction, please let me know as they will be a limited 'edition' and available on a first come basis, and when they, and the hook collection that I will be robbing to match his hooks is gone, that will be the end of the project.*****
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 with questions: 903 594-8844.
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 $6.00. 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 to our post office box, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 903 594-8833.
More Historic Angling Enterprises Links To Visit:
For some history of fishing and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, please consider an article I wrote several years ago. It has appeared in several venues, and most recently in The Backwoodsman. A Bit of History
And a link to some illustrations from our personal library and document collection. From Our Library and Document Collection
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
Double Edge Forge. http://www.doubleedgeforge.com One of the finest Blacksmiths in the United States, Dennis Miles is the craftsman you need if you want a historically accurate reproduction, whether it be a knife or other edged weapon or antique tool or device.
Wilde Weavery. My friends Ed and CJ Wilde are two of the most talented craft-persons I know. I often carry my fishing gear while stream side in a period-correct bag made by Ed, and I have spent many a grand evening, camped next to that same stream while wrapped in one of CJ’s most excellent hand-woven blankets. For fine hand-weaving, leather work, period accoutrements and books I recommend them without reservation. http://wildeweavery.com
Cobb Creek. Kathy Ring at Cobb Creek supplies much of the clothing I use for my reenacting, and I recommend them to you as quality purveyors of fine clothing.
I am a fan and supporter of Michael Hackney. He makes the most excellent "knotless" horsehair lines and brass fly reels. I consider him a true Renaissance Man, which makes him nervous, but the title fits in my view. Please take a look at his Facebook page, The Eclectic Angler Facebook Fan Page and become a fan. Give serious consideration to his fine products. Also bookmark his primary website TheEclecticAngler.com. Michael is a true partner in the quest to preserve our fishing past!
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
Ronn Lucas Sr. is the man to go to for all things pertaining to fish hook construction and the history of fish hooks. His website is a valuable research tool and I strongly recommend that you take the time to study the material he offers. http://www.ronnlucassr.com
The Lewis and Clark Journals. http://LewisandClarkJournals.unl.edu/index.html
The American Mountain Men: As noted elsewhere on this site, some of the time I spend engaged in “period” fishing is as a “mountain man.” I am a proud member of the American Mountain Men, and I urge you to take a look at the historic material available on the website made available by one of our members. http://www.xmission.com/~drudy/amm.html.
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