Refinishing old silk lines

This is a practical page to help anglers who have discovered old silk lines in good condition and are wondering how to refurbish them. I have to give credit to Len Codella for most of this, so thank him by doing business with him!

The good news is that it is possible to fix an old silk line up as long as it hasn't rotted.

Brass, silk and steel

The method -

Carefully separate all the coils and soak the line for at least a day in soapy water (washing up liquid will do). Remove the line and rinse it out as well as you can.

Lay the line out between layers of newspaper for as long as it takes to dry - up to four days if you don't live in California - changing the newspaper as often as you need to prevent it getting soaked.

After the line has dried, polish it down with talcum powder and a soft cloth, unless the finish is very rough, in which case, polish it with pumice first, before using the talc.

Then you can fish it - but the line will behave like an intermediate after you have fished it for a while, unless you finish it with some kind of preparation to help it float. The best stuff for the job is red label Mucilin and the good news is that it is cheap and widely available.

Repairing worn lines -

If the finish has worn off your line, and the braiding is exposed, you can still restore it, but it takes a bit more effort. OK, it takes a lot more effort. You can console yourself by remembering that people used to have to do this on a regular basis before plastic lines were invented - that is why you are fishing silk, right?

Boil up some linseed oil, and when it has cooled, add about 25% spar varnish, then warm the mixture up again, before working it into the line with your fingers, laying each coil of line out on newspaper as soon as it is coated. One or two coats like this is usually enough, but you must allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one. If you don't let it dry, the line will stay sticky forever, or possibly longer. Lines left in this state attract more lint than you would imagine existed on this planet. An Ig Nobel awaits the person who discovers where it all comes from.

Once the braid is covered completely, polish the line down with pumice and a soft cloth, and then refinish using talcum powder.

I plan to restore the lines in the shot - one day. This day is as far away as it was when I first wrote this page, more than a decade ago - my excuse is that planning is everything.

If all else fails, you can still buy new silk lines.

In the US, contact Len Codella, Heritage Sporting Collectibles, 2201 South Carnegie Drive, Inverness, Florida 34450 Tel: 1 (352) 637-5454 Fax: 1 (352) 637-5420.

Otherwise a very good start is with Phoenix Lines who make some of the best silk lines in the business at very reasonable prices indeed.

Yet another is Olaf Borge, whose site, Silk Fly Lines, is well worth a visit.

Finally, there is Cadnow Silk Lines in Monmouthshire, who offernew and reconditioned lines.

If you know of any other suppliers around the world, send an e-mail and we will add them to the list.