My husband, JC or James Castwell, makes a daily
mail run to town and does whatever errands are
necessary. It's always fun when he gets back - neat
stuff does come in the mail, and other surprises
if he visits the grocery store too.
When he returned on Friday, I was working in the
den on the computer on the new issue. Our little dog,
Whiz has a habit of coming to get me when Jim comes
back. I made my way out to the kitchen and he handed
me a little box. It took a minute or two to realize
what I had.
A silk fly line. My own silk fly line!
The box was wrapped with bubble wrap, and upon opening
I found the silk line, a plastic container of muclin
(more on that to come) and an instruction sheet on the
care and feeding of my new line, including recommended
knots. Very nicely presented.
Okay, big deal - well for me it is. I've never had
a silk fly line of my very own. I've cast a ton of
them...but they belonged to my grandfather, dad, and
various friends or acquaintances. Jim and I fished
silk lines on cane rods when we were first married,
but those lines were his - not mine. I seem to recall
a line which was braided and enameled and a dark green.
Jim thinks it may have been an early Cortland line when
they switched from silk to rayon. Too many years ago
to remember. Shortly after we were married we adopted
the 'new' Scientific Anglers System Series rods (fiberglass),
reels and lines. The silk lines were retired.
We continued to fish the cane rods for a while when
we moved to Montana, but eventually graphite rods
crept into our hands and we made the transformation
from cane to fiberglass to graphite in what now seems
like a tiny bubble in the stream of time.
Last summer I bought a Lee Wulff Classic cane rod.
Six feet one piece - simple and indeed classic. I
fished it at Rocky Ford Creek in eastern Washington
and at the Idaho Fish-In. We really are limited
with trout fishing here. We live on the saltwater.
Trout are a minimum of three hours one way. And
frankly, it's a bit of a stretch to justify even
owning a cane rod for me. I have small light rods
in graphite very capable of fishing the most delicate
flies on minute tippets.
For me fishing a cane rod is not the same unless I am
also fishing a silk line on the rod. Call it anything
you want. That's the way it is. And to make matters
worse, I have another cane rod on order. It will be
hand delivered by it's maker at the Idaho Fish-In this
fall. It is a 5 wt. quad being made by Ron Kusse.
Ron didn't yell when I told him I would be using a
silk line on the rod. He understood. It may be a
conscious desire to return to a time less hectic
and cluttered, or to simply enjoy a piece of fishing
tradition. I doesn't matter really, it's mine to do
and I'm doing it.
Silk lines are smaller in diameter, with a harder
finish and have a very distinctive sound going
through the guides. Smaller diameter also casts
with less effort (nice in wind as well) and has
less of a profile on the water. Once you've cast
one you will feel the difference. Silk lines do
require maintenance. I didn't mind it 30 some
years ago, it was just part of the whole picture.
I don't mind Hoppe's #9 either. If you have to
ask what that is, you probably won't understand.
Before plastic lines, silk was what there was.
They have to be treated with Muclin or they sink
(yes, you can fish them as a sinking line). Fish
the morning hatch, come in for lunch, string out
the line between trees to dry, then coat and burnish.
Reel the line back up and go back out for the late
afternoon/evening fishing. Some folks today cut a
double taper line in half, spool each half with
backing on a different spool. If the line begins
to sink, switch spools and continue to fish. At
the end of the day, stretch out both to dry and
coat and burnish. That works.
Which brings us back to my new silk line. I ordered
a 5 wt., double taper from
Olaf Borge and I already have the reel for it.
It's the Hardy Bougle reel, the "Centennial". I
wrote about this reel back in September, it
Pick of the Denver Show.
Some years ago, (I have no idea how many) muclin
was sold in small tins. I rather liked that.
JC found the one he had squirreled away. When it
is gone, I will scrap out the stuff in the plastic
one which came with the line and stuff it in the
red can. You have to remember to carry a dime in
your pocket so you can open it.
Kind of neat. Some things are better left the way
they were. ~ The LadyFisher
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