Horsehair line, was it a nightmare?

Yes, one of the few fishing lines the ordinary man could make himself.

Assuming you have access to a horse you could be on your way to a cheap line with some effort, well, a lot of effort.

Way back in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s it wasn’t as easy to nip to a local tackle shop to buy line as is now.

No ye old internet either.

Even if you could afford it, the shop may be hundreds of miles away. When you’ve plucked the horse near bald trying to make a line, it’s not likely to take you there by choice either!

Usually made from the mane or tail hairs plucked from a docile horse it’s relatively easy to make. The hairs were woven by hand using the three stick method of weaving to achieve a line of 12-24” length. These in turn had to be plaited or woven together to produce a longer length suited to your fishing or target species.

Initially fished from the end eye of a hazel pole rather than rod and reel, it was sufficiently strong to do the job.

Soaked to give a supple feel, it’s quite a hardy line.

However, the introduction of reels brought many problems for the line.

When dry it curled and twisted, limiting any attempt to cast. When wet it became heavy and hung or draped between the line guides, causing friction issues.

Very quickly the joints split and frayed both weakening the line and reducing cast distances.

So an alternative had to be found.

Silks, cotton, jute, etc. all formed part of the solution with silk and gut predominantly giving the answer, spawning a worldwide competitive industry for the product.

For collectors, there is nothing more pleasing than to have an early brass winch filled with horse hair line on your shelf and gives a good tale to tell too. 

See what I did there!