Fishing Rod – Outdoor Skills
Fishing Rod – Outdoor Skills
I feel more diffidence in speaking of rods than of any other matter connected with out-door sports. The number and variety of rods and makers; the enthusiasm of trout and fly "cranks;" the fact that angling does not take precedence of all other sports with me, with the humiliating confession that I am not above worms and sinkers, or minnow-tails and white grubs—this and these constrain me to be brief.
But, as I have been a fisher all my life, from my pin hook days to the present time; as I have run the list pretty well up, from brook minnows to 100-pound albacore, I may be pardoned for a few remarks on the rod and the use thereof.
A rod may be a very high-toned, high-priced, aesthetic plaything, costing $50 to $75, or it may be —a rod. A plain, useful, business rod; in which case it is not wise to lay out more than $5 to $10 on it. By all means let the man of money indulge his fancy for a costly split bamboo. He might do worse. But the plain common-sense sportsman will find a well-made lance wood, of from 8 to 10 ounces, sufficient. I have used a 4y2-ounce rod and found it large enough and strong enough for brook trout; but, as I never add a second rod to my kit, I prefer the one to weigh not less than eight ounces; ten is better. I handled, last summer, a 10-ounce rod made by Cfuttenden of Cazenovia, N. Y., and costing only $5 .75. It was satisfactory in every respect; and I could see no special superiority in a split bamboo costing $25, which one of my friends sported. Charles Dudley Warner, who writes charmingly of woods life, has the following in regard to trout fishing, which is so neatly humorous that it will bear repeating:
"It is well known that no person who regards his reputation will ever kill a trout with anything but a fly. It requires some training on the part of the trout to take to this method. The uncultivated trout in unfrequented waters prefers the bait; and the rural people, whose sole object in going a-fishing appears to be to catch fish, indulge them in their primitive taste for the worm. No sportsman, however, will use anything but a fly—except he happens to be alone."
Speaking of rods, he says: "The rod is a bamboo weighing seven ounces, which has to be spliced with a winding of silk thread every time it is used. This is a tedious process; but, by fastening the joints in this way, a uniform spring is secured in the rod. No one devoted to high art would think of using a socket joint." . In the summer of '83, during a seven weeks' tour in the Northern Wilderness, my only rod was a bethabara Henshall. It came to hand with two bait-tips only; but I added a lance wood fly-tip, and it made an excellent "general fishing rod." With it I could handle a large bass or pickerel; it was a capital bait rod for brook trout; as a fly-rod it has pleased me well enough. It is likely to go with me again. But it is not yet decided which is best, and I leave every man his own opinion. Only, I think one rod enough. And don't neglect to take what sailors call a "ditty bag." This may be a little sack of chamois leather about 4 inches wide by 6 inches in length. Mine is before me as I write. Emptying the contents, I find it inventories as follows: A dozen hooks, running in size from small minnow hooks to large Limericks; four lines of six yards each, varying from the finest to a size sufficient for a ten-pound fish; three darning needles and a few common sewing needles; a dozen buttons; sewing silk; thread, and a small ball of strong yarn for darning socks; sticking salve; a bit of shoemaker's wax; beeswax; sinkers, and a very fine file for sharpening hooks. The ditty-bag weighs, with contents, 24 ounces; and it goes in a small buckskin bullet pouch, which I wear almost as constantly as my hat. The pouch has a sheath strongly sewed on the back side of it, where the light hunting knife is always at hand, and it also carries a two-ounce vial of fly medicine, a vial of "pain killer," and two or three gangs of hooks on brass wire snells—of which, more in another place. I can always go down into that pouch for a water-proof match safe, strings, compass, bits of linen and scarlet flannel (for frogging), copper tacks, and other light duffel. It is about as handy a piece of woods-kit as I carry.
I hope no aesthetic devotee of the fly-rod will lay down the book in disgust when I confess to a weakness for frogging. I admit that it is not high-toned sport; and yet I have got a good deal of amusement out of it. The persistence with which a large batrachian will snap at a bit of red flannel after being several times hooked on the same lure, and the comical way in which he will scuttle off with a quick succession of short jumps after each release; the cheerful manner in which, after each bout, he will tune up his deep, bass pipe—ready for another greedy snap at an ibis fly or red rag—is rather funny. And his hind legs, rolled in meal and nicely browned, are preferable to trout or venison.
Sears, George Washington. Woodcraft. New York: Forest and Stream Publishing, 1884.
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