Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby

Recently a senior course I am teaching on the history of outdoor America read "Fly Rod Crosby: The Woman Who Marketed Maine" by Hunter and Shettlesworth (Tilbury House, 2000). This is a fascinating book that delves into the marketing of fishing and hunting, but more importantly deals with the impact of women on the outdoors. Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby was one of America's most prominent outdoor writers for the period 1890-1920, and her contributions helped place Maine as one of the leading proponents of the outdoors. Fly Rod was a fantastic fly fisher and had her rods custom built by noted Maine fly rod maker Charlie Wheeler.

Fly Rod was a popular subject for sporting wags. Here is an example from the 25 May 1893 New York Times, where an article entitled "Women in Journalism" declared:

"Good old Isaak Walton would have turned over in his grave and groaned had he not long ago moldered into dust when the announcement was made that a paper would be read on the subject of 'Woman as an Authority on Trouting.' The paper, read by a local newspaper woman, was written by Miss Cornelia T. Crosby of Maine, better known to her devotees as 'Fly Rod.' She is expert and ardent sportswoman, who is said to have the remarkable record of fifty-two trout in fifty-four minutes. She is quite as clever with the pen as with the rod, and her articles are widely read. Physically she is unusually well equipped for wading in a trout stream, being, it is said, fully 6 feet in height."

I'm sure Isaak Walton wouldn't have been shocked, having been preceded by Dame Juliana Berners as a fishing author.

I ran across this interesting article about Maine fly tyer Selene Dumaine.


It is wonderful that someone is continuing in the tradition of Sara Jane McBride, Carrie Stevens and other pioneering female anglers.

Here is a link to the biography of Fly Rod Crosby



Dr. Todd

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