On Fly in the Salt: American Saltwater Fly Fishing from the Surf to the Flats
The American Museum of Fly Fishing exhibit On Fly in the Salt: American Saltwater Fly Fishing from the Surf to the Flats, is going on the road. It travels to the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, VA (10/12/18-3/3/19), the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, CT (5/6/19 – 10/13/19) and the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center in Islamorada, FL (11/10/19 – 2/29/20).
“There has never been a single exhibition that has compiled the comprehensive history of saltwater fly fishing,” says AMFF Executive Director Sarah Foster. “Since its early beginnings the saltwater discipline has graphed a continuing upward climb in popularity. In terms of new techniques, tackle development, cultivation of new fishing grounds, and advancements in biological and environmental knowledge, this branch of the sport may be unequalled in the overall history of fly fishing, and we are excited to bring this story to life through this exhibition”.
On Fly in the Salt: American Saltwater Fly Fishing from the Surf to the Flats traces the sport’s progress through interpretive display cases containing artifacts from the outstanding collection of the American Museum of Fly Fishing. Flies, reels, historical photographs, paintings along with an interactive video component containing interviews with some of saltwater fly fishing’s greatest legends illuminate the history of a pursuit that serves up a potpourri of mental and physical challenges that engender sheer, primal excitement for participants that navigate the glassy mosaics of clear water flats and the fierceness of the open ocean.
The exhibition timeline charts the sport in America from the late eighteenth century, with a nineteenth-century surge of literary accounts of adventurers seeking an ever-increasing variety of fascinating fish. In the 1920s and into the 1930s and 1940s pioneers like Tom Loving (Chesapeake Bay), Homer Rhodes (Everglades), and Harold
Gibbs (New England) were beginning to attract the attention of inquisitive anglers. These groundbreaking fly fishers began their own explorations, bringing tackle designed for trout and salmon to the saltwater bays, estuaries, surf, and even deeper marine zones. It is their work, along with technological advances, that led to the near-explosive development of the sport from the late 1950s through the 1970s, sometimes referred to as saltwater fly fishing’s golden decades.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, the saltwater angling community turned its attention to the fisheries and their environment. Earlier human observations documented the decline of some fish species, and these observations led to the formation of conservation organizations that used scientific techniques to confirm these interpretations and to make direct links between the environment, the actions of mankind, and the state of the fisheries.
The American Museum of Fly Fishing was founded in 1968 by a group of passionate anglers who wanted to ensure that the history of fly fishing was preserved as an important part of America’s culture, industry, and history. In the years since its formation, the Museum has collected, preserved, researched, and exhibited the world’s largest collection of angling artifacts and the world’s largest reference library of fly-fishing publications. AMFF is proud to trace the evolution of American saltwater fly fishing with this landmark exhibit.
The American Museum of Fly Fishing is open from 10AM – 4 PM, Tuesday – Sunday from May through October and Tuesday – Saturday from November through June. In celebration of its 50th Anniversary, admission is free on Fridays in 2018.