Cast From The Past: Haslinger Breviary

Photo: Steve Woit

The Haslinger Breviary is one of the true relics of the fly fishing world from the Medieval era. It contains the oldest collection of fly fishing patterns ever discovered. Leonardus Haslinger, an Austrian secular priest, wrote the recipes for his favorite flies in German in the back of his breviary in the 1460s.

The breviary was the book that the priest used routinely in his services and it is clear that the cleric had his mind on fly fishing as much as on his flock. Each fly pattern entry written in ancient German describes the precise feathers and silks to be used in their construction. The flies detailed there were mainly used for the summer fishing season for trout, grayling, and chub.

The modern-day home for the Haslinger Breviary is Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, CT, where Ray Clemens, Curator for Ancient Books and Manuscripts, was able to preserve this priceless fly fishing treasure.

Steve Woit is the author of “Fly Fishing Treasures: The World of Fly Fishers and Collecting”, a book featuring profiles of 30 experts and collectors and over 800 photographs of rare and collectible fly rods, reels, flies, books, and ephemera.



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