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Bad Luck Larry

Finding the Silk Line

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The internet ad read about fishing tackle and other curios being sold by a vendor at a local flea market.The vendor's name reminded me of the gent who had a tackle shop briefly, where he gave the contact number of the man who would teach me fly fishing.I went and lo and behold it was the same man. We chatted and I asked about my mentor and how he knew him. After a little while I continued my look around and spied this old reel made out of what seemed to be die cast metal like my dinky cars of old. A brief look at the line and I noticed this thread with a weave to it. I thought that it might be lead-core or some kind of thread leader attached to lead-core line. In other words, a reel spooled for lake trout fishing. Brilliant, Holmes!

I left with some other stuff and sat in the car with that thread on my mind. So I took a closer look at the reel and the line. I spooled some line loose and realized there was no lead at all. I thought backing line, then. Problem was the weave was more complex than backing line I'm used to seeing AND it's usually NOT dark green. So, it briefly entered a crevice in my pointy head: "Could this be....SILK line?"
Wow.

I brought it home and went on the internet to compare it to pictures of the 'real thing'. Sure enough, it matched.I even took a knife to see if here was ANY core to the line.Result, zero. No lead , no nylon or other thread core.
Next used the 'burn' test; nylon will melt and coagulate whereas silk won't while smelling a little like hair burning. PEW! Yes.

I removed the silk line off the spool and noticed the backing; the usual nylon backing similar to the stuff I have on my other reels. It's a lot like kite string. The blue stripe reminds me of the stuff that used to be in my household during the 70's. The ONLY weird thing about this backing was that there was a yellowish coating from end to end.Plus, it was a bit sticky. Looking up some articles, it was practice for some anglers to varnish the backing to keep IT waterproof as well. (Water is THE enemy of silk.) So, a waterproofed backing for the silk line to wrap around and sit on, makes a lot of sense.


Included are some pictures of the test subject.


Now I have to apologize about the fly line. I SHOULD HAVE taken a picture of it WITH the original coating. However, for reasons I'll write about later, I had to remove it. I WAS hoping I wouldn't have to.
What Reed Curry said WAS true: Silk fly lines can not only be found by companies online making and selling the stuff, but if you look hard enough, you'll be really surprised by locating them at flea markets, antique shops and even garage sales. You'll be further surprised by what condition they'll be in. Sure, some will not be really great but others will be pristine.

It boggles my mind: I was secretly looking for a spare reel to load full-sinking line onto. Instead, a reel from 'days-gone-by' with silk line. Of course (and at the time it only meant one thing I thought about but never fully took seriously) I need to find a split-cane rod for it.
And that, friends, will come a little later.
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Updated 01-02-2019 at 04:08 AM by Bad Luck Larry

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