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Fishing Tackle 18th Century Style 4

Tuesday, 14 April 2015  |  Simon

The industrial revolution brought with it rapid advances in the production of fly fishing tackle. Ironically, though the manufactured lines manufacture brought a new set of problems in their wake. The late 18th century saw the appearance of lines woven from silk and horsehair and by the early 19th twisted and plaited silk lines had come on the market.

Horsehair lines had plenty of disadvantages. Not only were they very light, could not be easily 'shot' easily and had terribly memory, particularly when newly-wound off one of the narrow spindled reels that were used in this period. Conversely, silk lines absorbed water quickly, wore out in no time at all, and became too heavy to cast, problems that would not be resolved until finely-plaited dressed silk lines became widely available in the 1890s.

Mixed silk and hair lines were an extremely poor compromise, since the two materials have quite different properties. Nonetheless, the mixed lines were widely used. Which is odd, considering they were expensive, wore out quickly, lacked strength, kinked easily, and owing to the protrusion of innumerable points of hair ran, badly through the rod rings.
By the end of the century, many fishermen had given up on tying their own flies and bought them from tackle dealers. While big advances in rods, reels and lines, had occurred, there was very little change in the 18th century in trout and salmon flies. In 1790, a fisherman could turn up with Cotton's selection in his fly box and hardly anyone would have remarked upon it, but a mere forty years later he would have been a laughing stock. In terms of the evolution of fly fishing tackle, this was the calm before the storm.

 
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