Phoenix Silk Fly Lines will soon be celebrating 30 years of making silk fly lines, following the traditional methods employed by Kingfisher in Scotland. We are grateful to Noel Buxton who spent many years researching how Kingfisher lines were made, since all their records were destroyed when they finished trading. Noel Buxton rose Phoenix from the ashes of Kingfisher and was awarded the title of National Treasure in the England for his work. When his Noel’s health started to fail, he chose hand over to Mike Brookes, who has been continuing this traditional craft since 1998.
What follows is an outline of the process starting when the silk arrives at the workshop as 20/22 denier silk, which made up of between 7 and 8 strands of silkworm silk.
Silk as it arrives at the Phoenix Workshop
The silk is first wound on to bobbins to the required number of counts – for example a DT 5 line has no less than 120 of theses “ends’ in the tip and 216 in the belly.
The bobbins are then put on to braiding machines, which braid the silk into various thicknesses, tapered at either end (for a DT lines). Even the smallest imperfection in either the taper on the dressing can affect the line’s casting performance, so this braiding is done with the utmost care.
An antique wooden braiding machine.
Mike Brookes spinning a line.
After braiding the lines are either dyed green or left in their natural colour, which after dressing gives an attractive honey shade.
The lines are then impregnated with an enamel oil under pressure, causing the oil to penetrate into every strand. This keeps the line both soft and supple throughout the length of its life.
The braid is then coated with a second oil and the lines are then varnished and polished to the smooth and pliable finish required by the fisherman. It is the degree of hand finishing and care that ensures the quality and performance of the line.
The finished product.