I've been getting into furling at a slow pace, so I have not learned much of the problems associated with the leaders. My memory, as poor as it is these days, recalls way back in my younger years as a Boy Scout, rope making was one of the skills we could get involved with. In the Boy Scout handbook, there was a drawing of a very simple hand powered machine that could be made that would braid four stranded rope. I don't recall the instructions going into what materials to use or many of the details. I was a Boy Scout in about 1947 through early 50's, so if someone should have their Boy Scout handbook from that era tucked away for a keepsake, you might find that drawing .
I believe the method of making rope, and this was before nylon, dacron, poly, or any of the synthetic fibers were used in rope making, is very similiar to the techniques of making furled leaders. Hemp, manilla and a fiber from the cocomut tree were the materials used then, I think I remember that, anyway. The principle of furling, counter twisting has been around for a long time. I'm sure old Isaac himself knew the tricks of furling.
My Father was a Navy man, and whiled away some of his off-watch time doing some marlinspike seamanship work, fancy knotwork that is. I had a belt that he made, long gone away now, but again my memory recalls some of the knotwork in that belt resembled the appearance of furled fly leaders. The folks that do the horsehair braiding might also know some of this stuff pretty well.
I know there is a distinct difference between "Furling" and "Braiding". Just as there are a number of different techniques withing the term "braiding". The Dacron lines we use for fly line backing is braided, so are a little girl's pigtails. These terms are not interchangeable, but in ordinary conversation are often used as similar terms. If you ever have an opportunity to watch a braiding machine making fishing line, don't stare at it very long, I did, and almost fell flat on my butt, it made me dizzy just watching it.
Should anyone have some information along these lines, I would like to hear about it, and perhaps others would as well.
Jim Johnson ( Doublehauler)