The Original

The Farnsworth Fly Story

Phil Farnsworth's story about his first saltwater hookup on a fly is like most every angler’s story after their earliest experience of successful night fishing in the surf.

"It was foggy, and it was dark," Farnsworth recalled as he waded into the mouth of the Connecticut River estuary as it flowed into the Long Island Sound in Old Saybrook, Conn. "I could hear fish all around me. On the first cast, a fish hit, and it never stopped. It stripped my line and blew my reel out. It just exploded.

"That was it. I was hooked on saltwater fly-fishing forever."

It was the early 1980’s and from that moment on it seems like the popularity of saltwater fly-fishing has swept across beaches and reefs around the globe – from the Connecticut shorelines, where the Farnsworth Original Fly was born, to the Alphonse Island in the Seychelles, Mexico’s Ascension Bay, and Ningaloo Lagoon in Western Australia – fly fishermen who never wet their lines in anything but freshwater ponds and streams were suddenly converted to saltwater anglers.

Phil grew up on the Farmington River in Connecticut and was fly-fishing at the tender age of four. He went on to become a sought after professional photographer and In 1983 developed his first commercial fly, the legendary Farnsworth Slider.


It all came about because as with many challenges in life, inventiveness and ingenuity are stimulated by difficulty. The difficulty Phil was experiencing was one evening while surf fishing he knew he was surrounded by schools of 30-40-pound striped bass that refused to take his fly. He was casting his arm off to no avail. He tried everything and realized he needed to come up with a better fly to catch the monster bass just 20 feet away.

Since traditional feather flies were not getting the job done, Phil went against the grain and developed a balsa wood slider lashed to a hook to mimic the silversides the bass were feeding on that night.

It worked.

If necessity was the mother of invention that night, then catching fish is its father and Phil and his friends began to catch more fish than they could physically haul to shore.

Word spread.

The Farnsworth Fly became so popular up and down the New England Coast that Phil began to get requests to make his namesake fly for tackle shops and fly-fishing enthusiasts as far away as Alaska. Magazines started writing about him, fishermen who had the fly wanted more and the Original Farnsworth Fly became steeped in folklore and tradition as the go-to fly for decades to follow.

So, thank you for visiting the Farnsworth Fly Fishing Co. where you can now load up on the deadliest, one of a kind fishing flies on the market today.

The truth is the traditional feather flies don’t work as well as the Farnsworth Fly. Once feather flies get wet they sink. The secret to the Farnsworth Fly is to fish it close to the surface. After all, fishing is a visual sport. Anglers want to see a wild fish hit their fly and the Farnsworth Fly is so visual you can see the fish come up from the deep and explode out of the water. Just be sure to hold on to your rod.

Fish on!