History of the Fishing Pole

Sergio Smirnoff

Hello, my name is Sergio Smirnof, and my goal with FishReeler is to provide a valuable resource for anglers of all levels, from beginners to experienced veterans. I hope that my passion for fishing and dedication to the sport shines through in the content I create and inspires others to get out on the water and catch some fish!

History Of The Fishing Pole

The Evolution of a Fishing Pole – Brief History of the Rod to the Present Day

vintage fishing rods

No matter how long a person lives, he will always search for food. One of the first methods of finding food is fishing. In this article, I want to tell you about the history of fishing rods. Because it is considered the most popular and widespread fishing tackle in human history. Its principle is extremely simple and intuitive even for a person who first took it in hand. Every day more than ten thousand rods of various variations are sold all over the world.

But how much do you know about the origin of this fishing gear? This question can often confuse even experienced fishermen. Meanwhile, the story of the fishing rod is much more complex and interesting than it seems at first glance. And I want you to know it too.

Fishing Rod History – Who Invented The First Fishing Rod

first fishing rods

In Ancient times people fished using all sorts of tools. They were tridents, spears, and even primitive hooks made of stone, animal bones, and tree thorns. The fishing rod which is similar to the modern one was known to our descendants who lived about 30 thousand years ago.

The hooks found in the excavations were tied, apparently, to a fishing line which was used as lianas of plants, veins, hair of animals.  Over time methods and tools for fishing were improved. It is difficult to say who exactly invented the first fishing rod. There are several versions of its origin.

Frescoes of Ancient Egypt contain paintings of people hunting for fish. Some of them have fishing tools in their hands that resemble modern fishing rods.  The first mention of something like spinning fishing belongs to the ancient Greek author Theocritus. In his works, he mentioned fishing with a fishing rod. A deceptive bait was placed at the end of her line.

Two hundred years before the beginning of the new era, silk fishing lines and iron hooks were used in China. The latter appeared in Europe only in the middle of the iron age. In same China, one of its Emperors-Jing, who lived about 2-3 centuries. of our century wrote a note in which he outlined the technology of converting a sewing needle into a fishing hook and a method of fishing for rice grain.

But today the most common theory among experts is the” Northern ” origin of the fishing rod. According to many researchers in the temperate and cold latitudes, there was a need for the invention of such a tool. Where there are fewer fish resources and it is more difficult to extract them.

fishing at the beginning of the century

For fishing, they used a long string, at one end of which was fixed some kind of mollusk. It was usually a snail. As soon as the fish swallowed the bait, it was pulled out of the water. A familiar principle, isn’t it? Another mention of fishing with bait came to us from the ancient Greek epics by the authorship of Homer. He wrote about it in his Odyssey.

The first use of fishing rods marked a great advance in fishing techniques four or more thousand years ago. With the help of a fishing pole, it became possible to throw a hook with bait for a considerable distance. The fishing rod could be used without a fishing line.

fishing tackle samples

The hook was tied directly to the top of the fishing rod. The ancient fishing pole was a flexible and strong whip (not to mention the bamboo fishing rods in Asian countries) which the fisherman himself cut and processed. For fishing rods, hazel was used most often, as well as willow, silver poplar, linden, larch, thorn, juniper, beech, ash, and spruce.

The last two breeds were used the longest. In the seventeenth century, the whalebone was used for the tip of the rod. A fishing rod made of bamboo was first mentioned in 1613 in foreign literature about fishing. The Romans already knew about fishing with fishing rods, which are collected from several parts. The dictionary “fishing” of 1772 gives information about folding fishing rods and, surprisingly, even about telescopic fishing rods and speaks about them disdainfully.

Doze f mentioned both (telescopic and collapsible with tubes) types of fishing rods from young straight-layer pine or spruce in his work in 1811. At the top, such a rod should have been thinner than the little finger. It was lengthened with a flexible rod of hazel or juniper, at the end of which was attached a loop of brass wire or hair for tying the line. This was done if desired. It contained detailed instructions on how to dry the rod stock, divide it into parts, and make connecting tubes.

old fishing methods

Those who found it very difficult to make a collapsible fishing rod preferred to use a rod made of willow or hazel. At the end of the 19th century, steel rods of solid section and tubular appeared and in some cases the line was passed inside the tube. Steel rods came in all probability from America where they were very popular. While in Britain they appeared only in 1937. In Germany, steel fishing poles came into use before the great Patriotic war and were initially considered only as a replacement for expensive bamboo.

Expensive, overseas tree species were used to make fishing rods in the early twentieth century. Bamboo fishing rods had long existed. The word bamboo is a collective name for a large family of similar plants, but with different properties. In Britain, the first fishing rods were produced at the beginning of the last century.

Not only from bamboo, but also from other types of wood, including elderberry and rosewood. They were known as early as 1801. A significant step forward in the manufacture of fishing rods was made after the second world war. When new materials appeared. Fiberglass is a composite material with good strength and flexibility at the time.

The experience of using this material was used by Dr. Arthur Howald, technical Director of one of the American firms for the manufacture of fishing gear during the creation of fiberglass rods for sport fishing. In the 70s even more revolutionary materials appeared for the manufacture of rod blanks.

19th century fishing pictures

It’s carbon fiber. Carbon fiber rods were even lighter and stronger than fiberglass rods, although their price at first exceeded all reasonable limits. Fortunately, the development of technology has led to a significant reduction in the cost of such rods, now they are available to most anglers.

When Was the Collapsible Fishing Rod Invented

In the dictionary which was called the fisherman, you can find a mention of folding fishing rods. It was written in 1772. They may have appeared earlier. But now neither I nor you can find out exactly when. So I’m focusing on this year. A collapsible fishing rod had long been a luxury item. In Britain, the widespread production and use of folding fishing rods are due to the fact that fishing there became a mass character among the citizens in the 18th century.

retro fishing illustrations

They were unable to deal with long one-piece rods. It is important that a good bamboo fishing rod in those days was more expensive than the also expensive British folding fishing rod. But still, the best kind of fishing rod was a flexible hazel rod.

Types of fishing rods:

  • Float fishing poles;
  • Bottom fishing rods;
  • Spinnings;
  • Fly fishing gear;
  • Non-system fishing rods.

Of all of them, the float rod is the most versatile tackle for fishing. A modern float fishing rod is a fairly complex tool that can be used almost the entire season of fishing in open water. It is used for fishing both in freshwater reservoirs with standing and running water: in lakes, ponds, reservoirs, in large and small rivers, streams. It is no less popular when fishing for sea fish.

20th century fishing rod designs

It is suitable for feeding most species of fish. It is enough to equip it accordingly and you can catch both bleak or roach, bream, carp, and others. And predatory fish are no exception.

Float fishing rod consists of:

  • Rod;
  • Fishing line;
  • Float;
  • Sinker;
  • Leash;
  • Hook.

The rod is usually attached to the reel and loop, which serve to wind the line and attach it to the top.

Why Did Fishing Appear?

For a long time, the most important way to search for food were hunting, fishing, and collecting edible fruits and plants. People settled near the water, near rivers, and on the coast of the seas. There were the first settlements.  Therefore, the production of fish and seafood became for man one of the main conditions in the struggle for existence. Fishing is a very ancient occupation.

Perhaps, it has existed since the dawn of mankind. And in any case, fishing has helped humanity survive and preserve its kind in very difficult conditions to survive. But the fishing was interesting to people not only as a way to get food but also as a sport. It was still a thrill for them. In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, sport fishing was entertainment for aristocrats. This is stated by written sources.

Sport has developed all the centuries and is still developing. Now fishing is even more popular than in ancient times. Anglers from different countries of the world unite in fishing clubs, create their own bases and communities. In many countries, mass fishing competitions are organized, which introduce thousands of new adherents to this sport. There are also international fishing competitions.

On the market of tourist services, there are such directions as fishing Safari in places of exotic fishing, whether it is sea fishing of Marlin and swordfish or travel to salmon rivers in remote Northern areas. In our time fishing is a type of active recreation, a source of positive emotions, a mass sport, a means of hardening, and a way to communicate with nature.

Why Are Fishermen Called Anglers

modern fishing regions

Probably even people who are far from fishing have heard that some of the adherents of this type of active recreation call himself a fisherman, and someone an angler. Perhaps these words are synonyms that do not have semantic shades? This is not quite so. Let’s look at the terminology and find out exactly who the fisherman is and how it differs from the angler.

It is believed that fishermen and anglers have many differences. The first, for example, work mechanically and do not invent anything new, but the fishermen are so passionate about the process that they constantly use new equipment in fishing and read literature on the topic. So if you get up every Saturday at 4 am, go to the river with a fishing rod and call yourself a fisherman — this is not quite true, most likely you are an angler.

But this is a superficial difference. If you look deeper, the difference is that the “fisherman” is the name of the profession. Fishermen usually fish on an industrial scale or work as a private organization. This activity for them is a trade that ensures their existence. And the word “angler” in dictionaries is given a different definition: it should be used when it comes to a person’s hobby.

For the angler, the main thing is not getting a result or profit from the sale of fish, he is carried away by the process of fishing. The angler can fish with any fishing rod, dress in any clothes, be interested in new products and changes in fishing. He just loves and knows how to fish with varying degrees of efficiency, but the size of the catch does not depend on the level of his well-being. In general, “angler” is any person who catches fish.

Also, a fisherman can be called a captain seiner, and an ordinary sailor. They certainly will not be offended. The same name is given to representatives of certain nationalities, for whom fishing is a native and serves as a source of income and food for entire families. From a philological point of view, the words “fisherman” and” angler ” are paronyms. These words are similar in sound but different in meaning.

Tags: #true temper fishing rod history / #jarvis walker fishing rod history / #fishing rod history timeline / #fishing rod history / #garcia fishing rod history

Sergio Smirnoff
Sergio Smirnoff
Professional fisherman with 40+ years of experience.
Fishing and the ocean is a passion of my life. I am passionate about all kinds of sea fishing: fishing from the shore (spinning, float, baitcasting), from a boat, and spearfishing day and night.

I live in Tenerife (Canary Islands) for the last 10+ years and share my daily fishing experiences on my website. Many years of personal experience as a fisherman and the vast experience of my friends allow me to write professionally on any fishing topics (from choosing a flashlight and equipment to deep-sea fishing).

All of my advice is based on practical real-world experience and will be useful to both novice anglers and professionals. Read more about the author.

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About the author: Each article is verified by the fishing expert Sergio Smirnoff. The articles are written by professional and amateur fishermen with 20+ years of fishing experience.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency. The articles are for informational purposes only, share your opinions in the comments and join the fishing discussions, let's share our fishing experiences together!

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4 months ago

Awesome read! I didn’t know there were so many different types of fishing poles. Thanks for the education.

4 months ago

The history of fishing poles is a testament to human ingenuity and the love for fishing. Thanks for shedding light on it. I have conducted extensive research on the history of fishing and have discovered numerous sources. Most of the information is centered on fishing as a means of obtaining food and while useful for some aspects of my story, I am looking to gather more information on fishing as a leisure activity.

Many sources mention the existence of fishing rods and hooks as early as x000 BC but also mention that the development of reels took place much later in medieval times. Does this imply that fishing rods during this time consisted simply of a long rod with a line tied to its end, accompanied by a hook?

4 months ago

Very informative article, I learned a lot about the evolution of fishing poles. Great job!

4 months ago

I was fascinated to read about the ancient methods of fishing and how it has evolved over time. Thanks for sharing.

4 months ago

Interesting to see the progression from simple bamboo sticks to the advanced technology in fishing rods today.