Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle was published as part of the
second edition of The Boke of St. Albans in 1496. Two manuscript
versions exists, dated prior 1450, but even the most complete copy lacks
some of the text of the printed version, in particular the list of flies.
We know who published the Treatyse - Wynkyn de Worde, Caxton's
apprentice and successor. The identity of the author is less certain.
It is often said that the author was Dame Juliana Berners,
but the evidence for this is pretty slim.
The Treatyse is the most complete early reference
work on fly fishing. The text includes instructions on how to make a rod,
line, hooks, instructions for twelve fly patterns and hints about how to catch the
common varieties of British fish.
The Treatyse stands out among works of the period,
not least because it is the first printed book on fly fishing, but also
because it champions fishing, putting it on the same plane as hunting.
Hunting was the sport of kings and nobles, and the Treatyse's claim
must have caused a few raised eyebrows at the time. However, the influence
of the Treatyse was immense. It was a popular work and was reprinted
many times over the century that followed its first publication.
There were no more major works on fly fishing for another
two centuries, so the Treatyse stands alone, an extraordinary
achievement, whatever its origins, and whoever the author may have been.
The best way of making your mind up about the Treatyse
is to click here and read it - it
won't take you very long.