A 21st Century Rod & A 17th Century Line - The Perfect Match?

A New Toy ...

10 years ago yesterday I started Barbless Flies - as a hobby - I never even considered I could turn it into a career, after all, I was busy running my IT Consultancy business at the time.

It soon became very clear that I had tapped into a niche which was not adequately served as the majority of rivers were in the process of transitioning over to barbless flies, and they were difficult to find, unless you tied them yourself.

Barbless Flies was only initially started to give me a little money to pay my club/syndicate fees and indulge my inner 'tackle tart' - just in case I needed that new piece of tackle, I'm sure you know the feeling!

A couple of months ago, when all of the glossy new catalogues dropped onto the doormat, I saw this advert ...

Now, I've never really owned a proper Orvis rod - I've had a few of the ones which have been made outside of the USA but never one of the 'all-singing-all-dancing' ones - time to try one out I thought, so I spent the Barbless Flies rod budget for the year, and here it is my new Helios F 7'6" 3wt:

I'm sure that you have all read about these and how they perform with all the different space-age fly lines, but as far as I can tell, nobody has tried one yet with a line originally designed in the 17th Century - a silk line!

I loaded up my go-to Summer reel (a Hardy Ultraclick 2/3/4) with one of Ian Moxon's finest DT3 silk lines:

I'm not going to give you a full review of the rod here - it's all been said before by anglers much better qualified than I - all I will say is that it is the best rod I've ever owned for fishing our small streams here in the North York Moors. It will put a fly exactly where I want it to, virtually every time, my casting is awful but it makes me look (and feel) like a casting god - and so it should for the price - in truth I'd pay double if I could afford to! 

I think that what helps to make this rod shine on my local rivers and streams is the line used on it.

If I were to select just one item of equipment that I think has rekindled my passion for fishing our local rivers and small streams, it’s the use of a silk line - I’ve found nothing better for presenting small flies on long light leaders, it really does put the ‘art’ back into casting.

I started on my own silk route a couple of years ago and it has completely changed the way I feel about fly fishing.

Don't get me wrong, I still love plumbing the depths with nymphs for Grayling, but when it comes to small streams and even smaller flies I instinctively reach for my silk line - the presentation is so much better, and it just makes me feel much happier! They are also very simple to care for (see below).

Don't think that to get the best out of a silk line you need a cane rod - try one on a medium action carbon rod - or better still a glass rod - there really is nothing better.

I'm sure that at some point in your fly fishing odyssey you have contemplated using a silk line, if so:

Read on McDuff ...

What better way to get the most from your dry fly fishing than with a silk line, especially when said line is made right here in the UK, Sheffield to be precise, by a guy called Ian.

These silk lines have been designed and made with a 'fine tip' which effectively means they have a very thin 'built-in' furled leader, so you just attach a level piece of tippet to the end.

Ok, so why should I use a silk line then? We're glad you asked:

  • They have no memory - completely limp
  • There's no stretch - improved hookups
  • They are denser than plastic fly lines and therefore much thinner, and thinner lines mean much less wind resistance
  • They float better than plastic fly lines - they float on the water surface, not in it making roll casts and mending line much easier
  • You get 3 lines in one; When fully greased it's a floating Line, grease everything except the tip and you have a midge-tip line, don't grease it and you have an intermediate/sinking line
  • They can last a lifetime - so long as they are cared for and stored correctly a silk line can last a lifetime - and indeed will get better with age

We've just received a parcel here @ Barbless Flies HQ - direct from Ian in Sheffield and it's full of silk fly lines - we've now got these stunning full-length silk lines in the most popular weights (DT4, DT4/5, DT5 and DT6/7) and colours.


Sometimes Ian adds a couple of extra lines into each delivery. I normally spirit these away for myself, but this one has to be shared ...

He's made a very special 25yd Double Taper line, one end of the Double Tapered line is a 3-weight, whilst the other end is a 5-weight - clever eh?

Two silk lines in one:

I've listed this on our website and you can find it by clicking here. It's not cheap, at £119.99, but it is clever (and we believe it is a one of a kind).

Each of our Silk lines are sent in a handy box (to keep them in when not on the reel), a pot of floatant grease, a microfibre cloth (to clean/help dry them) and line care instructions.

These lines are made in the UK (in Sheffield, Yorkshire to be precise), by Ian Moxon and are great value for money, these fully finished lines are now available for immediate delivery, from only £79.99 - which for a silk line is outstanding value.

*** We've only 2 or 3 of each weight/colour combination of line - and no more stock arriving until late July, so if you would like one, you will need to be quick ***

Please Note: We do realise that silk lines may be very new to some of you, and you will have some questions. Please either reply to this email, or give me a call on 0330 66 00 587 and I will answer them as best I can.

A Message from Iam Moxon (the maker) about traditionally made Silk Fly Lines:

“My new silk fly lines are usually a bit stiff and a bit rough to start with (and that is normal for a properly made silk fly line). The line will become softer and more supple over the course of the first half dozen fishing trips and nothing should be done to try and accelerate that process. Before each fishing trip apply a thin layer of line grease. After your fishing trip pull the line off your reel in loose coils into a cardboard box to dry (or put onto a line dryer if you have one). Never grease a wet silk fly line as that will trap the moisture inside and prompt rot. Occasionally a silk line will become sticky/tacky for no apparent reason (usually due to old line grease/residue) and if that happens wipe the line down with white spirit."

"All my line are made from unbleached raw natural reeled silk (reeled silk is the best grade of silk followed by spun silk and then bourette). The raw silk goes through the following processes - skein washing (to remove the serracin, also known as degumming), dying if applicable, bobbin winding (various deniers), braiding (tapers are constructed by braiding), loose ends trimmed and burnt, vacuum impregnation with traditional varnish (essentially linseed oil and natural resins - various coats), polishing, leader loops added, weighed and measured and finally coiled up."

"Because my lines are constructed in the old tradition way, there my be some very small lumps / bumps and small cosmetic marks. However, each line has been inspected inch by inch (by me) and no lines go out which won't cast well and catch fish. As with any maker's traditional silk fly lines, they always become softer and smoother over the course of the first half-dozen fishing trips and nothing should be done to try and accelerate that break-in process. All those lines have very fine tapered tips and my own micro braided leader loops attached."

"With care your silk fly line should last your whole lifetime."
Ian Moxon; 2024

They're Flying Out Of The Door ...

We've just had to reprint our 2024 River Fly Anglers Almanac, so if you've thought about buying one over the last few days and saw they were out of stock - they're not now.

We've just received more and they are looking for new owners, they're really easy to look after, just turn a page every now and then and they're happy:

Our 2024 River Almanac is the ideal distraction to while away your 'non-fishing' time.

*** Go on, you know you want to ***

P.S. Don't forget to check out our Live Mayfly Hatch Tracker - we've updated it with all of the sightings reported to us - click the image below to view the latest info: