April 22nd Meeting – Phil Anderson on “Classic Trout Flies and Their History”

Anderson Photo4 (1024)Phil Anderson is a recently retired professor of Genetics at the UW-Madison and an amateur historian of fly tying and fishing.  He has lived in Madison for 37 years and among his weaknesses are trout of the Driftless and classic books on the history of fly tying.  Phil has taught fly tying classes for the Southern Wisconsin chapter of Trout Unlimited for 14 years and writes a monthly column for SWTU about classic trout flies that have withstood the test of time.  He has educated quite a few Driftless trout over the years about the history of fly tying by reintroducing them to classic flies that they probably have never seen.  Such flies have lost their place of prominence in fly shops, glossy magazines, and glitzy websites but they’ve lost none of their fish-catching magic.


Fly anglers have been fooling trout with fur and feather for hundreds of years.  Read an old fly tying book or examine your granddad’s fly box and you’ll discover flies that are the foundations of our sport.  Many of those old flies are great fish catchers often better than the latest hot new fly.  All trout flies, even modern ones, descend from ancestral flies of similar design and some of those designs date to the earliest days of fly fishing.

The English-language literature on fly fishing began in 1496 with publication of the first book that included artificial flies and recipes for their construction.  Fly angling evolved tremendously in the ensuing 500+ years due largely to conceptual and technical advances by some of history’s most insightful and influential anglers.  Phil will examine the evolution of fly fishing using classic trout flies as a window on the history of the sport.

As with biological evolution, the pace of change in fly fishing over time has not been uniform.  Relatively lengthy periods of stasis in which few significant changes occurred have been punctuated by short periods of major change.  New ideas and methods were established often by individual angler-authors that swept rather quickly through fly fishing.  Phil will highlight some of the landmark anglers, influential books and famous fly patterns and comment on their impacts both at the time and today.

The meeting on Monday, April 22nd will be at the Maple Tree restaurant on Highway 51 in McFarland.  The presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. with dinner and conversation at 6:00 p.m.  Visitors and guests are always welcome.


Buzz McFly