Hairline Fishing - A Little History

by Herb S.
(Southwest Michigan)

Sub-ultralight fishing is not new nor a Japanese invention. It goes back a long way in Europe, principally in France even before WW2.

According to A.J. McClane in his 1952 “Spinning for Fresh and Saltwater Fish of North America” the firm of Pezon & Michel were the main makers of ultra-leger lancer equipment. McClane reports that monofilament lines less than ½ pound test were available, but recommends lines of ½ to 1# test for the extremely light and fragile cane rods available in France at that time with lures from 1/30 to 1/8 ounce. With tackle like that he writes “you can cast an ordinary cigarette, with no added weight, 30 feet.”

What makes fishing this light possible with the reels of that time was, rather than depending on the possibly sticky drag to fight fish, using the reel-hand fore-finger to feather the spool and gain line by lifting the rod and reeling as you lower it.

Skipping ahead to 1965, McClane’s article (reprinted in “The Complete McClane”) “Exploring With Ultralight” updates his recommendations to one to three pound test lines with two pound as the most popular for hairline spinning. By then lines had become thinner per strength and more flexible. Reels and rods had improved, too. But his old advice on casting, retrieving and playing fish remained and is still well worth looking up in any of McClane’s books or magazine articles you can find.

I, hero worshiper that I am, highly recommend it if you want to get the most out of your ultra-light spin fishing or fly fishing or anything about fishing for that matter.

It’s 2018 and you don’t have to order your tackle from France! Thanks to Chris and the perfectionist Japanese, very advanced hairline tackle is now available for those who have always wanted it or maybe didn’t even know they wanted it.

Happy fishing,

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