When Did Modern Fly Fishing Start?

Fly fishing has been around for centuries, but when did modern fly fishing start? Modern fly fishing first began to take shape around the late 19th century. It was during this time that the sport began to move away from its traditional roots, and become a more sophisticated endeavor.

In the late 19th century, advances in technology had an impact on fly fishing. The invention of the reel and new lines made it possible to cast further and more accurately than ever before. Additionally, lighter rods were being developed that allowed anglers to feel even the slightest bite or nibble from their quarry.

At about this same time, new patterns of artificial flies were being developed by fly-tyers in England and Scotland. These artificial flies imitated various aquatic insects, lures and baitfish, allowing anglers to Target the fish they desired with greater precision than ever before.

The combination of these new tools — reels, lines, rods and flies — allowed anglers to be more precise in their presentations and increase their chances for success exponentially. This ushered in a new era of fly fishing that emphasized accuracy over brute force, finesse over power and technique over luck — all of which are hallmarks of modern fly fishing today.

The 20th Century

The 20th century saw further advances in fly-fishing technology and technique that continued to revolutionize the sport. Rods were becoming lighter yet stronger than ever before; lines were made thinner yet stronger; reels were getting smaller yet more powerful; and leaders were becoming tippets were getting longer yet less visible in the water.

At the same time, anglers began experimenting with different casts such as roll casting, reach casting and spey casting which allowed them even greater control over their presentations. Additionally, an entirely new class of specialty flies became popular such as streamers, nymphs and dry flies.


Modern fly fishing started taking shape around the late 19th century with advances in technology such as reels, lines and rods allowing for more precise presentations combined with new patterns of artificial flies enabling anglers to Target specific species with greater accuracy than ever before. The 20th century saw further innovations that continue to shape our sport today making it one of the most exciting outdoor pursuits available.

Photo of author

Daniel Bennet