The Victorians & Fly Fishing 5

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Fly fishing with horsehair lines began to die out after the 1860's, although there were some who still preferred the material even decades later. What brought about the inevitable demise of horsehair was the difficulty in making long lines out of it. Anglers no longer used thirty or forty yard lengths of line and just hang on, praying for their hooked salmon to give up from exhaustion, or sheer boredom. It was the development of the check, high capacity single-action reels, backing line and the adoption of tapered fly that made possible long casts which allowed fish to run. The braided silk fly lines were infinitely superior in every way to horsehair, and, once tried, no serious angler would go back the traditional material. Not only could silk could be cast further, but it could also be mended, and generally controlled completely. For these reasons, the material revolutionised fly fishing. The quantum leap in the distance it was possible to throw a line was brought about by the combination of the new rod materials and silk lines. Virtually every cast we’re familiar with today had been discovered in Victorian times. By the 1890s the average salmon fisherman could contemplate a cast of thirty yards, and fly fishing experts could cast as much as forty or sixty yards.

Mike O'donoghue
06 March 2014  |  21:13

17 Ft Geernheart rods are still being used to tame fish today!

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