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Hair must not touch Oil, which will make it hollow and soon decay; it ought to be kept in Parchment. Dipping it in Water every two or three months, and afterwards slowly drying it, will preserve it for Years.
In making lines, every hair in every link should be equally big, round, and even, that the strength may be so proportionate, that they will not break singly, but all together; by carefully choosing the hairs they will stretch and bear a much stronger force, than when a faulty hair is included. Never strain the hair before twisting; the best will easily be selected by the eye, and two or three inches of the bottom part of the hair should be cut off, as it is generally defective. The links should be twisted very slowly, and not to be harsh, but so as to twine one with another, and no more, for a hard twisted line is always weak: by mixing chesnut, black, or any other coloured hair, the line may be varied at pleasure.
The most easy method of making hair into lines is, by a small Engine, which is sold at most of the fishing-tackle shops. It consists of a large horizontal wheel, and three very small ones, inclosed in a brass box, about a quarter of an inch thick, and two inches in diameter; the axis of each of the small wheels is continued through the under side of the box, and is formed into a hook; by means of a strong screw, it may be fixed on any post or partition, and is set in motion by a small Winch in the centre of the box; the process is soon acquired, and it is thus used:-Take as many hairs as you pur
pose the line shall contain, and divide them into three parts; each of these is to be tied to a piece of fine twine doubled, and fixed to the hooks which impend from the machine; then take the piece of lead which has a hook at its top, and after tying the three parcels of hair together at the loose end, hang the weight thereon: after this, cut three grooves in the sides of a Cork, at equal distances, and in each groove place a division of the hairs, that, by gently turning the engine, the links may turn with the greater evenness to the lead. As the link grows tighter, move the cork slowly upwards, and when the whole is sufficiently twisted, take out the cork and tie the link into a knot, and so proceed till the quantity of links wanted for a line are completed; observing to lessen the number of hairs in each link, in such proportion, as that the line may be taper. The links should then be laid for an hour in cold water some persons, whether a hair starts or not, retwist them, before they are made into a line, and more particularly when there is an odd hair in the number twisted. Some put the hair for ten minutes into warm water, before working it into links.
To make a fly-line without the aid of the abovementioned Engine, and where a Reel is not meant to be used, take three hairs, put them level at top and knot them, cut off the other ends so far as they appear faint, leaving all of the same length; then hold them over the top between the thumb and finger of the left, and begin twisting with the right hand, stroking them frequently below the hand that holds them to keep them from entangling; then proceed
to the end and knot it; when four of these are finished, make four with four hairs each, four with five hairs, and continue increasing a hair until the quantity requisite to complete the line is done; these links should be then put into cold water for half an hour, which will shew whether the hairs shrink in any of the links, and such as do must be retwisted; the four smallest are to be tied together in water knots*, leaving the finest (should there be any difference) lowermost proceed thus in fastening the links together until the line is made, which should be from nine to twelve yards long: the short ends must be cut away near the knots, and whipped with wellwaxed silk, and a Loop made at each extremity : one to fasten to the rod, the other to loop on the foot links, which should never consist of more than three, of either gut or hair, for fly or bottom fishing. In making strong lines for bottom or other angling, they may be began with any number of hairs, and increased every, or every other link; recollecting, that in a four-hair link they may be divided as you twist, keeping two on each side the hand; with sir they must be divided in three equal parts, and in like manner for any size that the fingers can twist, and which they always do better than any other mode' of twisting.
* The water knot is thus done:-lay the end of one of the hairs four or five inches over that of the other, and through the loop which would be made to tie them in the common way; pass the long and short end of the hairs, which will lie to the right of the loop, twice, and, wetting the knot with your tongue, draw it close, and cut off the spare hair.
Sorrel, chesnut, or brown coloured hairs, are best for ground angling, especially in muddy water, as they nearly resemble the colour of the water; white, grey, or darkish white hair is for clear streams. Some use a pale watery green for weedy rivers in Summer. Black will only do for rivers immediately flowing from mosses. There are many receipts for dyeing hair, but where copperas is used, the hair is injured by it. The following will give a green deep enough for the Angler's purpose.
Take a pint of strong ale, half a pound of soot, a small quantity of the juice of walnut-leaves, and an equal quantity of alum powdered fine; mix them well, and boil them in a pipkin half an hour; when the mixture is cold, put in the hair, and let it remain ten or twelve hours.
Some boil a quarter of a pound of soot in a pint of strong alum-water, with a little juice of walnutleaves, for half an hour, and steep the hair in it when nearly cold.
For a brown, take some powdered alum, boil it well until dissolved; then add a pound of walnuttree bark from the branches when the sap is up, or the buds, or green nuts; boil it an hour and let it stand, after skimming it for ten minutes; then put in the gut or hair for about a minute, (stirring it round,) or until you like the colour. If it continues too long it will become quite dark, and rot the hair. The lighter it is tinged with this colour the better. Salt and ale will also give hair a brownish cast that is steeped in it.
For a blueish water colour, proceed as above: only
add logwood instead of the walnut, and be careful not to colour it too much.
Yellow; the inner bark of a crab-tree boiled in water, with some alum, makes a fine yellow, which is excellent when the weeds rot, the line appearing of the same hue. Another may be obtained from two quarts of small ale, and three handfuls of walnut-leaves bruised therein; the hair to remain in it until tinged to your wish.
Tawny is made with lime and water mixed together, by steeping the hair in it for four or five hours, and then soaking it a whole day in a tan-pit.
Russet; take a pint of strong lie, half a pint of soot, a little juice of walnut-leaves, and a quart of alum water; put them together into a pan, boil them well, and when the liquor is cold, steep the hair until it acquires the colour you desire.
The hair to be dyed should always be the best white: the seasons for using dyed hair are September, and two following months for the yellow. Russet all the Winter, and until the end of April, as well in rivers as in lakes: for the same periods, the brown and tawny should be used in blackish, heathy, and moorish Waters.
The various shades in sorrel hairs will naturally furnish lines proper for most waters discoloured by rain, or running on sand or gravel, particularly when mixed with white; and for bright water, the white alone will be sufficient.
Lines of Silk or Hemp may be coloured by a strong decoction of Oak bark, which it is believed resists the water, and adds to their durability: any