What was used for fishing line before nylon?

Boating enthusiasts and avid fishermen alike are undoubtedly familiar with the multitude of fishing lines available today, made of materials such as nylon, fluorocarbon, and braided fibers. However, before the development of these modern materials, fishermen had to rely on a variety of different materials to create fishing lines, some of which were surprisingly effective.

One of the most widely-used materials for fishing lines before nylon was made from horsehair. Horsehair is a great material for fishing lines because it is very flexible, strong, and abrasion-resistant. Fishermen would often take the tail hairs from a horse and then sort them by thickness to create different line strengths. These horsehair lines were used for centuries and were used in fly fishing well into the 20th century.

Another popular material before nylon was silk. Silk was originally used for fishing lines in China as far back as 3000 BCE. The lines were made by taking individual silk fibers and twisting them together to create a strong fishing line. As silk fishing lines became more popular in Europe, fishermen began to experiment with different thread sizes and twists to create lines with different size strengths. However, silk lines were expensive, and when nylon was invented, it became the go-to material for fishing lines.

Animal intestines were also used before nylon was invented. Catgut, a type of cord made from animal intestines, was used as fishing line for centuries. The intestines were boiled and then the fibrous tissue was stretched, twisted, and dried to create a thin, strong line. Catgut was known for being very flexible and durable, and it was still being used into the early 20th century.

Before nylon was invented, fishermen had a variety of materials to choose from when creating fishing lines. Horsehair, silk, and catgut were all popular materials, and each had its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Although nylon has now become the most common fishing line material, these traditional materials remain popular among some fly fishermen who value their traditional craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal.

Have something to add or correct? Please let us know by clicking here.
* See disclaimer in the footer of the site for use of this content.

Related Questions


Latest Posts

Don't Miss

Our Newsletter

Get the latest boating tips, fishing resources and featured products in your email from BoatingWorld.com!