Before Americans became fly fishers, the Catskills provided a rich environment of rivers and streams, all brimming with life. This region of southeastern New York State has a gentle beauty in its mountains and valleys that attracts those with a deep love of nature. At the end of the 19th century, the Catskill region became a magnet for pioneering trout anglers: Theodore Gordon, “Uncle Thad” Norris, Edward R. Hewitt, George LaBranche, and a cadre of others who not only fished these rivers, but also made contributions to a distinctive, American style of fly fishing.
This procession of fishermen, fly tyers, rodmakers, entomologists, riverkeepers, and outdoor writers, through their innovations, gave rise to one of the richest traditions in fly-fishing history – a tradition that established the Catskills as the “Birthplace of American Fly Fishing”.
By the 1930’s, a new generation of Catskill anglers had come into its own – Herman Christian,Roy Steenrod, Reuben Cross, Hiram Leonard, Preston Jennings, Art Flick, Winnie and Walt Dette, Elsie and Harry Darbee, Ray Bergman, and Sparse Gray Hackle. Joan and Lee Wulff, with their fly fishing school, and Poul Jorgensen and Mary Dette Clark, with their fly tying expertise, became vital members of the angling community in the 1970’s, joining the collective effort to preserve the heritage and traditions of Catskill angling.