Fishing Wisdom from the 15th Century

The following is excerpted from a version of  “The Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle,” the first English language text devoted to Fly Fishing.  It was ostensibly written by Dame Juliana Berners between 1406 and 1420.  This version was put into modern English by Prof. Sherman Kuhn, and printed in The Origins of Angling and Quill Gordon, by John McDonald.

But the angler can have no cold nor discomfort no anger, unless he be the cause himself, for he cannot lose more than a line or a hook, of which he can have plenty of his own making, or of other men’s making, as this simple treatise will teach him; so then his loss is no grievance.  And he can have no other grievances, unless some fish breaks away from him he is on his hook, in the landing of that same fish, or in any case, he does not catch him.  This is no great hardship, for if he fails with one, he cannot fail with another, if he does as this treatise which follows will instruct him — unless there are no fish in the water where he is angling. And yet, at the very least, he will have his wholesome and merry walk at his own ease, and also many a sweet breath of various plants and flowers that will make him right hungry and put his body in good condition.

One Response to “Fishing Wisdom from the 15th Century”

  1. New Discovery of Early Fishing Text | The Literary Fly Fisher Says:

    […] Word has been circulating of an early angling text discovered by Maggs Bros. Ltd. of London. The text takes the form of notes bound in the back of a prayer book belonging to a Benedictine monk in Austria. The notes possibly date to 1450’s or 1460’s. The purpose of the notes are not clear, but they contain information on artificial flies and fishing. If the attributed dates are correct, the notes predate “The Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle.” […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: