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Snoods

Snoods

The "Great Line" fishing in Scotland took the boats as far a forty miles offshore necessitating a few uncomfortable nights at sea in all weathers. The "Small Line" fishing usually allowed the men to return the same day.

The lines in both types were of similar construction and the variations slight. The main line (the Back) consisted of a String, a thick piece of brown backed cord approximately sixty fathoms long (a fathom is a nautical measurement of six feet).

Attached to the String were Snoods - shorter pieces of thinner cord spaced at intervals of between thirty six to forty five inches along the line. To the Snoods were fixed horse hair Tippens, around eleven inches in length onto which the hook is whipped with strong thread. This is called "beating the hooks". The Snood is bent onto the line with a knot called a clove hitch and sufficient end left to turn back around to form a kind of plait. This prevents ravelling and twisting and is called a Pen.

The head of the line went over the side first, shot across the tide so that the Snoods would drift away from the main line and was anchored to the sea bed by a plain, unhooked line (a Tow), held in place by a heavy stone. A buoy marked the position of the Tow on the surface. The boat was allowed to drift for a time before hauling in the line to be stowed in a wicker scull or basket.

Despite sharing a common occupation the methods had regional variations. From Stonehaven to Fraserburgh the fishermen preferred to bait their lines wet - a wet line, can be argued, was easier to shoot over the side. Along the Moray Firth coast it was practical for ease and for the longevity of the lines to hang them (made easier by hauling the lines back into the sculls on the boat in bights) on a horizontal wooden pole (called a spiletree) supported at one end by another pole, the other end resting on a stone protruding from the gable end of the cottage. Spiletree stones can be seen today on houses in Cairnbulg near Fraserburgh. Usually two, sometimes three lines were kept allowing for at least one to be dried and baited whilst the men were at sea.



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