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Fishing Tackle 18th Century Style 3

Wednesday, 15 April 2015  |  Simon

In the last half of the 18th century, there came a very problematic development in fly fishing tackle, namely the multiplying reel. The appearance of the multiplier so early in the history of the fly reel sentenced anglers to a century of misery. It seems the multiplier arrived on the market round about 1750, as a response to the poor design of single action reels of the day. The single action reels tended to be wide, with small diameters. They also had very narrow spindles that made retrieving a fish very tricky if it ran out more than a few yards of line. The multiplier gave the angler a much higher rate of retrieve, but there was a fundamental flaw. Most multipliers had brass gears, which ground to bits if put under any kind of strain.

From the days of the Treatyse (see earlier blogs), anglers had had to twist their own fly lines, which were commonly made from horsehair. But the industrial revolution changed all that, and the very fact that new machines were being invented and produced easily also had a big effect on fly fishing. For one thing, a variety of tapered manufactured lines became available.

The new lines were tapered, and could be cast with greater accuracy than the hand-woven horsehair ones. The middle of the 18th century marked the beginning of the end of the use of level lines (which incorporated both running and fly lines). By 1850, tapered reel lines were virtually standard issue and it was quite routine for fishermen to reverse a fly line when one end was worn. More on fly fishing tackle history in our next blog.


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