Japanese fishing float in a looping hitch.
No glass fishing float ever went to sea without some connection to the
fishing gear. This could have been as simple as a single line tied to a dog-neck float or a beautiful hand-tied net
that served as a fender and a purse to protect and connect the float to the main net.
A handmade fishing net was
labor intensive and required many hands and many hours to complete. After each use the net demanded repair. Floats
were covered by whomever had the necessary skills. Many of the netmakers were women, children, those too old or injured
to fish at sea anymore, and the fishermen themselves. The glass floats still had to be netted and attached by hand.
A 100-foot Herring net could have as many as 100 small floats attached to the float line.
There is no standard pattern for netting a float. Many styles exist worldwide. However, there
are four very distinctive methods:
1) Asian hitch, commonly used in the Western Pacific
2) Rib hitch, commonly used in the North Atlantic and Baltic
3) Half hitch, used worldwide
4) Looping hitch, a rare net anywhere
Net material depended on whatever was available and could have been natural hemp, cotton, manila or even wool.
Many nets and floats were lost at sea due to storms or because the rope or netting had just become too rotten. The
vast majority of glass floats lost their nets before they were salvaged by some lucky beachcomber. Some, however, retained
their nets and are prized by collectors who think the net is as beautiful as the float itself.
The four floats pictured were done in the Batjak shop. The rope is 1/4"
hemp finished and preserved with Stockholm tar. These are large Japanese floats; 11" in diameter, made by the Hokuyo
Glass Company of Aomori, Japan and bear a Kanji mark of the upside down double F on a separate seal on the glass.
Japanese float with the common Asian longline hitch.
Japanese float with a ribbed hitch.
Japanese float with a half hitch.