The Line Forms Here
It is so easy to get into the car and make our way to the local tackle shop. The brands and types of fishing lines available are plentiful. As recreational anglers, we would never have gone through the painstaking measures that our ancestors did to drop a line in the water. Fishing meant survival, through innovation, fishing line has evolved with the needs of the times.
There is evidence as early as 7000 BC of the first anglers. An angler is one that uses a line and hook to catch fish. Our ancestors used bone and wood to create a hook and twisted (braid) vines as fishing line. Tombs from the early Egyptians were discovered with depictions of hook and line fishing. Ancient Greeks and Romans also fished with hook and line, not much is mentioned about this because it was a poor mans venture.
In the 4th Century, Chinese began to use braided silk for fishing line. This was far better than the materials used in the past, but could be brittle and was easily damaged by ultraviolet light. They were also the first to use bamboo for fishing poles. As time went by, new ways of making line evolved. It is hard to image having to go out to the barn and cut hair off of your horses tail to braid just to go fishing, but this is how it was done. Anglers also used “catgut”, twisting the intestines of cows or horses to create braided line. Linen, cotton, and flax were also used to make line, these materials were less than ideal for fishing.
In the 1950's, the DuPont company was instrumental in changing the face of fishing and making it feasible for the hobbyist. They invented Dacron, a man-made braid made out of polyester. . In 1959 DuPont released a nylon mono-filament called “Stren” and this revolutionized fishing. Mono-filament is a single strand, low visibility line of man-made fibers created by mixing and melting polymers and extruding this mixture through tiny holes. The size of the hole equates to the tensile strength or “test line”. This new line started the sport fishing explosion.
It seems that fishing line has come “full circle”. Many anglers are back to using braid line. In 1987 Spectra was invented and Spiderwire came on the market. Made of Dacron, spectra, and Dyneema, these braided lines are smaller in diameter, abrasion resistant, and have very little memory. The downside is with little stretch, braid can break off due to a strong strike. Braid is opaque, fluorocarbon is usually attached between the braided line and the hook. Fluorocarbon is virtually invisible in the water and is generally much tougher than mono.
There are also specialty lines for different types of fishing. Fly fishing requires different chemicals and processes to ensure the line will float. Trolling may require a stronger wire line, titanium, copper, and stainless steel are some of the substances used to create this heavy-duty line.
We have come a long way since the days of horse hair fishing line. New technology has been instrumental in the enormous growth of sport fishing. Just like everything else, newer, better ways to make fishing line will be discovered. But right now, the fishing lines we have are more than sufficient to get out there and catch that “trophy” fish!
Published by: Southern Kayak Fishing Magazine May 2017