It is only ignorance that allows us to believe the factually weak or embellished statements regarding the history and evolution of Salmon flies. Some would have us believe that the injection of colour in antique gaudy Salmon flies is the sole creation of the Irish tier from the Victorian era, but this is simply not correct.
Having recently acquired the Experienced Angler or Angling Improvements by Colonel John Venables, 4th Edition, 1676, my eyes are wider, and I am rethinking my own views and opinions of the evolution of Salmon flies. Going through the pages, all written in old English, the reference to tying methods is well formed, and covers the use of hooks, silks and furs and hackles from a cockerel or capon.
When techniques to palmer a fly are detailed, bearing in mind that this book is recording work in progress on fishing in general, and not claiming to invent it, this teaches us that 345 years ago, the method of fly fishing for Salmon and other species, was well formed, albeit with a very small participant audience.
The wood engravings allow us to look at the type of rods, reels, flies and baits that were used. Perhaps we should be a little more open minded on the evolution of Salmon flies and whilst our attentions are drawn to the splendour of the patterns of the last quarter of the 19th Century, the origins of these flies travel back to the 17th Century in this book.
In terms of the historical content, Venables is the only fishing author to have been imprisoned in the Tower of London. Not for crimes against angling but for a deemed failure on the military attack in Jamaica. This book was acquired in auction from a well-known name. Purchased for £130 hammer price, this is a true bargain given its age and condition.
The following extracts from the book really give an insight for those who were fortunate to fish.