Bush Craft & Wilderness Survival Articles, Gear Reviews & Videos
Hooray for the Hand Line!
by Keith A. Williams
The inception of the modern rod and reel has made such an impact on the outdoor community that it is often difficult to imagine thoughts of intentionally trying to catch fish without one. While fishing poles have been around for a few thousand years or so, fishing reels are relatively new improvements to the overall fishing scene. It would be stubborn of me not to admit that the two are upgrades to any anglerís arsenal, but I can assure you that neither is really needed, and that people have been doing quite well without them for about as long as we have recorded history. Even today, scores of people go forth on a daily basis to procure sustenance with nothing more than a few feet of string and a makeshift hook, and never worry about the ďinferiorityĒ of their gear.
Weights -- Split shot works fairly well for dropping your line over the side of a dock, gunwale, or similar object, but egg sinkers or wheel weights are often preferred.† Smaller weights donít spook the fish as bad when they hit the water, but larger and heavier weights cast farther, and are better suited for keeping the bait in one position in turbulent waters or strong currents.† Pyramidal weights will work, but tend to hang up on submerged objects more than the rounded edges of the egg shaped sinkers.
††† The hand line is simple to use.† Regardless of their experience level, anyone with just a few minutes of instruction can successfully use one.††† Casting a hand line may take bit of getting used to but in practice, is a not a technically complicated endeavor.† One method that is often touted is to flick your hand and let the line play off as it leaves the reel, but doing this makes it difficult to cast long distances- and increases the likelihood of your bait being flung from the hook.† Personally, I prefer an alternate technique.† What works best for me is to pull some slack line out in front of your feet (similar to fly fishing).† I then hold the line a few feet from the end and circle it above my head.† By using this method, the momentum built up by the spinning weight is enough to get decent range without as much risk losing the bait before it ever hits the water.
††† I like a solid feel when using a hand line, so my examples tend to have slightly more robust foundations.† The first example Iíll share with you is made from a hairbrush.† A plastic model would work just as well, but I liked the look of this bamboo version and just had to add it to my collection.† Taking a pair of needle nose pliers, it is a simple matter to pluck the bristles from the base.† I securely tie the tag end of the line to the handle as a little insurance against some runaway fish relieving me of this crucial piece of gear.† I like to use #18 braided nylon twine.† It is rated at 155 lbs. and I find that this works nicely when paired with a couple of feet of 50 lb. Spiderwire Fusion as a leader.† I sometimes join the two with a barrel swivel to keep my line from twisting.† My egg sinker is free to slide up the mainline if a fish runs with the bait, but the swivel serves as a stop to keep it from going down to the actual leader.
††† The bamboo hand line works quite well, but I have saved my all time favorite hand line for last.† This little gem is made from a girls bicycle rim and is a real joy to use.† This model is approximately eight inches across and the larger surface area really is appreciated when reeling in bigger fish.† Better still, is the added bonus that if it is held with the side facing the targeted location while casting, the line will feed freely from the spool, and I get about half as much more distance with same amount of effort.† This configuration is also easily setup for use as a limb line for those times when you have more pressing projects that require your attention.† With the addition of an ever present bungee cord, it is easily staged against a tree limb.† A fixed amount of line is then played out to the targeted location.††Another thing that I like about using the tire rim is that the channel of the rim naturally straddles the limb and keeps it in line with the bait- and yet a sudden snatch on the line will cause the reel to rotate and feed off a little bit of slack without breaking the line.† The bungee cord gives the additional benefit to lessen the shock of a hard strike, while being quick to remove to reel in the catch.
† ††† Hand lines, by design, are small and their compact size allows them to be stored in practically any mode of transportation.
† ††† Why should someone use a hand line?† I ask why not?† Keep one with you and when we meet, Iíll look forward to seeing what youíve come up with.
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Briar Patch Outdoors
219 Holmes Street
Durand MI 48429
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