Our History

Even before the Americans turned to fly fishing, the Catskills offered a productive and fruitful environment of rivers and streams, all packed with life. The Catskill Mountains, popularly known as also Catskills, are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains. It is located in the southeastern region of the New York State. As a cultural and geographic region, has a subtle beauty in its mountains and valleys. Thus, it attracts the attention of nature lovers.

This eye-appealing and scenic region attracted a heap of pioneering trout anglers, at the end of the 19th century. The visitors included Theodore Gordon, Uncle Thad” Norris, Edward R. Hewitt and George LaBranche. The region also hosted a small group of people who not only fished in these rivers but also made contributions to an individualistic style of fishing, i.e. American style of fly fishing.

The unique march of fishermen, fly tyers, rod-makers, entomologists, river-keepers, as well as outdoor writers together, through their creative ideas and imagination, helped in the making of one of the richest traditions in fly-fishing history. It is this tradition that gave rise to the Catskills to be known as the “Birthplace of American Fly Fishing”.

During the 1930s, a new and young generation of Catskill anglers had emerged. The members included of these novice anglers were 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.

Among all of them, Joan and Lee Wulff, with their fly fishing school along with Poul Jorgensen and Mary Dette Clark, with their fly tying expertise, became important members of the angling community in the 1970s. All of them made collective efforts to preserve the heritage and traditions of Catskill angling in the society.

Later in the year 1978, after many years of thinking and discussion, the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum was established. Ms. Elsie Darbee became the first president of the Museum.