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Cornelia Thurza Crosby

Fly Rod Crosby

Cornelia Thurza Crosby (1854-1946) b. Phillips, ME

Predominately worked in Maine (Rangeley Lakes region) and traveled throughout New England

1800's Fly Fishing Celebrity - Journalist - Maine's First Licensed Guide
…it’s hard to imagine how the State of Maine could have had a harder working or more imaginative advocate for its outdoors than this energetic six"foot woman who could lay out a fly line with the best of them.-Edward D. "Sandy" Ives¹
Cornelia 'Fly Rod' Crosby is the firecracker of our ancestors. She gave us a real boost. Born in 1854 in Phillips, Maine, she grew up with a rod and gun in her hands and was issued Maine Guide License #1. She did what has been extremely difficult for man or woman to do: She made her living by fishing and writing about it in her column “Fly Rod’s Notebook” in the nationally distributed publication The Maine Woods….She was acknowledged to be the most famous fly fisherman in the world and this was in the 1890s!-Joan Wulff²

Ms. Crosby had a life-long affection for the outdoors and wrote under the pen name “Fly Rod”. Her columns were filled with wit and warmth and had very favorable reviews of camps, resorts, and guides that she had visited during hunting and fishing adventures in the Rangeley Lakes area of Maine and beyond. Well liked and widely known as a skilled at fly fishing, it was often told of a record she had set in 1878 of landing 52 trout in 44 minutes. She also had the notable distinctions on being the first woman on record to shoot a caribou and held the #1 Maine Guide license.

Displaying an athleticism and individualism uncommon for women of her time, she used her celebrity to tirelessly promote the Maine wilderness in her writings and travels. Beginning in the late 1800’s she was asked to coordinate Maine’s involvement in the annual Sportsmen’s Expositions. She helped plan stunning displays, complete with a log cabin, prized taxidermy, as well as live trout and salmon shipped in by railway. This was a very impressive feat that she repeated with similar flair at various exhibitions throughout New England. The displays attracted thousands and inspired generations of visitors to explore the wilds of Maine.


  • ¹From the forward to Fly Rod Crosby the Woman Who Marketed Maine, by Julia Hunter and Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House Publishers, 2000: xi and xii.
  • ²From Joan Wulff’s Fly Fishing: Expert Advice from a Woman's Perspective Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1991: pg 7.
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Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby, Featured10 comments

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“Fly Rod Crosby: The Woman who Marketed Maine”

Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby, Featured11 comment

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This book was written by Julia A. Hunter and Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. Today I contacted Mr. Shettleworth to discuss the images in the book.

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