It is assumed that fly fishing was introduced to Finland in the early 1800s. It was at about this time that English businessmen and gentleman anglers began fly fishing on Finnish rivers, then rich in salmon and trout. Contemporary anglers used traditional English salmon flies. The River Oulujoki, and its Vaala Rapids in particular, was one of the best salmon fishing rivers in Finland, a status it held until the mid-1800s. Anglers in Southern Finland had learnt to tie hackled flies for trout and grayling by the early 1800s, but the generally accepted view is that professional fly tying first appeared in Kajaani. In 1854, a certain Mrs Anna Gustava Renfors, widow of a sea captain, moved to Kajaani with her young children. One of the children, Herman Renfors, started a factory in 1870, at the age of 21, manufacturing sport fishing equipment including spinner lures, splitcane rods, salmon reels and fishing gaffs. In 1874, he sent his sister Maria as an apprentice to England to learn fly tying at Hardy’s salmon fly factory. After returning to Kajaani, Maria taught her fly-tying skills to a group of carefully selected students, made up of her brother Herman and foresters Carolus Munsterhjelm and Oskari Rönkä. Munsterhjelm passed on his skills to Wiljo Saaristo, who in turn selected his own group of students, including Matti Tiitola and Antero Tolvanen. Tiitola and Tolvanen taught their tying skills to Erkki Vaalama, Arvi Keränen, the two Lukkari brothers Jouko and Nils and others, all of whom today have a recognised status as fly tiers.
Olavi Huotari, Kajaanin Perhokerho ry,