Albert R. Mann Library
Gut-twisting apparatus

IN THE EARLY 1700s, after anglers had been using horsehair lines for more than a thousand years, they finally discovered that nature had a better idea. It was a natural leader material that, by comparison with horsehair, was so remarkable for translucence, flexibility, and strength that it would eventually dominate the sport. It was silkworm gut. Gut was the raw material from which the larvae of Bombyx mori, a species of Asian moth, spun silk. When this larva (commonly called the silkworm) reached the growth stage at which it would start spinning its cocoon, it contained two long, thin sacs or "envelopes" running longitudinally nearly the length of its body. Each sac held a tightly bundled mass that when unwound, stretched, and properly treated would make a single strand about twelve to fifteen inches in length — just right for a tippet, or, if several were knotted together, a whole leader.

Paul Schullery, “Fishing with Guts,” American Angler, 2005

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