In the Middle Ages, fishing line was a valuable commodity that was primarily used for catching fish. Unlike today’s modern fishing line, which is made from synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester, fishing line back then was made using natural fibers such as hemp and flax.
Hemp was one of the most commonly used materials for making fishing line in the Middle Ages. This versatile plant was used for a variety of purposes, including clothing, paper, and rope. Hemp fishing line was strong and durable, making it ideal for catching larger fish. However, it had a tendency to rot easily if not properly maintained, which made it less reliable than other materials.
Flax was another popular material for making fishing line in medieval times. Like hemp, flax was a versatile plant that could be used for a variety of purposes. Flax fishing line was strong and durable, and it was less likely to rot than hemp, making it a more dependable option for catching fish.
In addition to hemp and flax, other natural materials that were used for making fishing line in the Middle Ages included silk, horsehair, and catgut. Silk fishing line was expensive but highly prized for its strength and durability. Horsehair was also a popular choice, particularly for fly fishing, as it was thin and flexible. Catgut was often used for making fishing lines for freshwater fishing, as it was thin and strong enough to catch small fish.
Overall, fishing line in the Middle Ages was made primarily from natural fibers such as hemp and flax. While not as advanced as modern synthetic materials, these natural fibers provided fishermen with a reliable and durable way to catch fish and make a living on the water. Today, while synthetic fishing line has largely replaced natural fibers, the history and tradition of fishing with hemp and flax fishing line lives on in the sport of fly fishing.