The International Fly Fishing Association (IFFA) was formed to co-ordinate and manage international fly fishing competitions. The earliest surviving minutes of the organising committee are of a meeting held on the 25th of May 1931.
The present members of the association are the national organisations of competitive fly fishing in England (TEFF), Ireland (ITFFA), Scotland (SANACC), and Wales (WSTAA).
The most important and prestigious events in the trout fly fishing calendar are the international matches held between these four countries.
The association's committee consists of the President and three voting members from each country together with a non-voting Secretary & Treasurer. The association meets three times a year with the AGM being held at the Spring Meeting. The Spring and Autumn internationals are held on lochs with a River international in early Summer.
It all began in 1928 when the first international match was organised between Scotland and England on Loch Leven, Kinross, Scotland. In 1932 the competition grew to include Ireland and Wales. Originally, the teams consisted of 20 anglers from England and Scotland, which then became 16 when Ireland and Wales joined. A formal constitution, and the name International Fly Fishing Association, was adopted in 1951.
Until 1970 there was one international match held each year (with a break between 1940 and 1949), and they were all fished on Loch Leven. In 1971 it was agreed that two matches be fished each year with the venue rotating round each of the countries - this is still the practice. Each team is now made up of 14 anglers. It was agreed in 1974 to have mixed pairings. So, prior to each match a draw is made for boat partners. The match, which is fished over a period of eight hours, is normally preceded by two practice days to give the visiting teams an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the water.
The anglers fish to the Loch - Fishing and Match Rules which were first agreed in 1928 and have evolved to take account of changes in materials now used for fly tying and in the manufacture of fishing tackle. These rules are discussed and agreed once a year at the Rules Committee meeting which is held at the Autumn meeting.
At the AGM in 1991 a proposal to hold a River International was put forward by Geoff Clarkson of England. The international would be held once a year and would rotate around the countries with five competitors in each team. The proposal was accepted and the first River International was held on the River Dee, Wales in 1992. The match venue is divided into five beats with four competitors, one from each country, on each beat. Prior to each match a draw for beats takes place. On the day prior to the match no fishing takes place on the competition water, however the anglers are allowed to walk the beats. The match itself consists of four sessions and the anglers change beats after the second session.
The rules fished to at the first international were a combination of those fished at the English and Welsh River Nationals. These rules were subsequently altered and the anglers now fish to the River - Fishing and Match Rules. These rules are discussed and agreed once a year at the Rules Committee meeting which is held at the Autumn meeting.