The Horse Hair Fishing Line
In addition to the reel, I am producing a horse hair fishing line. Early horse hair lines were built from short (24 to 36″) “snoods” of furled hair. These snoods were knotted to make a line of arbitrary length. These lines worked well with loop rods where the line was fixed to the tip of a long rod (12′ and longer) and did not have to pass through guides. As reels and rods with guides came on the scene, lines needed to be developed that would not hang up in the guides – but it would be a century before silk lines with its long continuous filaments came in to wide spread usage in the west. In the interim, anglers learned to make continuous and knotless horse hair lines. I rediscovered this process last year and have been producing lines and teaching folks how to make their own. Here is an overview of the process. You can read the full details on how to make a line using this technique here Horse Hair Fly Line.
This is a laborious process but allows the angler to create a continuous, knotless, tapered line of any length from horse hair. It takes me about 2 hours to make a 30′ line like this one for the exhibit.
The woodcut in the upper left is from the original source showing the technique. Next is a hank of prime horse hair – 34″ long white stallion hair. The tools are made of “three pieces of deal and goose quill sections”. The 3 strands being furled are made up of 6 hairs each at the butt end of the line. These are knotted and staggered in length as shown in the drawing. Each strand is twisted and then passed over the other 2 as shown in the middle two photos (with the yellow arrows). As you reach the end of the length of hair, you simply add a new hair to replace to continue at the same line diameter or drop the hair to begin a taper. The instructions linked to above give complete details.
The last two photos are the 35′ line I made for the Martin Van Buren exhibit using these tools and techniques.