By Bob McNitt
Sun Outdoors Writer
A few weeks ago I got a call from a gentleman asking about an antique rod and reel he'd found while inventorying a recently deceased aunt's estate belongings. He said the rod was constructed of four-pieces, probably hickory, that were joined together by metal ferrules and its total length when assembled was 12 feet.
He described the reel as being a simple skeleton click-drag, single-action that contained what appeared to be cotton line. No manufacturers' trademarks were evident, on either rod nor reel. The man wondered when the outfit had been made. The best I could do was advise him it was probably sometime around the late 1800s to early 1900s. Later, I got to thinking how fishing equipment has evolved, from simplistic to high-tech.
There's evidence that way back in 2000 BC the early Egyptians were constructing artificial flies to catch fish with. Obviously these were very basic lures and probably fished on hand lines or from long wooden poles with no reel. I can't imagine one of the Pharaoh's subjects landing a 100-pound Nile perch on such an outfit, but it probably proved adequate for smaller fish.
Since the time early humans first evolved from scavengers and gatherers to hunters, fishing was purely a consumptive activity. No telling when the first person discovered that placing a bait on a sharpened gorge or bone hook that was attached to long woven animal hair would catch fish was fun and effective, but I suspect it predated the early Egyptian anglers.