Lisa Donafee writes...
The Reader's Digest is currently working on a story about a Norwegian
fly-fisherman who saved a Danish man by literally fishing him out of
Norway's Gaula river last summer. As part of the Digest's policy of
double-checking all facts before publication, I would like to confirm our
fishing terminology and sequence of events with a fly-fishing professional
to make sure that our article is correct.
After reading your website, I hoped you might be able to answer a couple of
questions regarding fly fishing, tackle, types of line used etc. I would be
very grateful if you could let me know if this is possible and we can
arrange a time when I can call you, it will probably take about 10-15
minutes. Alternatively, I can send you the questions via e-mail if you'd
Please send them - it sounds interesting (never having caught
a Dane before) :-) Currently I'm in New Zealand so it might
be best if you email them to me.
The Paul Arden Fly Fishing Experience
The Sexyloops BB - "Chaos and a stick"
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. As mentioned, I just need to
check the specific fishing details with you. We don't want any of our
flyfishing readers questioning the plausibility of the story because we're
talking about the wrong tackle.
Basically the story is of a Norwegian fisherman who went to his usual spot
on the River Gaula last summer and found a Danish fisherman already there.
However, the Dane had left his lifejacket at the campground so when he
slipped on a stone the current dragged him downstream and he quickly became
submerged. The Norwegian ran down the river and literally hooked the Danish
guy with his salmon spoon and dragged him out to safety!
1. Kjell Wilhelmsen, the Norwegian, had a shorter casting rod with an
open-faced reel and had made a special lure for it. Stamped out of brass
and dished like a spoon, the three-inch lure was painted iridescent green
with black spots and had a triple hook attached to its tail. He called it
his 'storlaks' or big-salmon spoon. Is it correct that he would have used
an open-faced reel with this particular lure and is it correct that this
lure is known as a 'spoon'?
2. The Danish guy, Jens Ovesen, had left his automatic lifejacket outside
overnight and the rain had caused it to inflate so he needed to replace the
air cartridge. This was why he decided to go fishing without it because he
couldn't find any local shops which sold a replacement. In your experience,
is this the effect rain has on an automatic lifejacket and would this
inflation render the jacket useless until the air cartridge had been
3. Before the Dane fell into the water he says he waded 20 feet out into a
25 yard wide river, threw the bait 50 yards up and slowly began to reel the
line in. Does this sound correct?
4. When the Norwegian fisherman saw what was happening, he says he unhooked
the salmon spoon
so it dangled from the end of the rod, then clicked the bail-bar away from
the reel so the line could run out when he released it. The nylon fishing
line had a breaking strain of only 30 pounds and the knot attaching the
spoon to the line made it even weaker. The Norwegian knew that if he tried
to use the line as a tow-rope it would snap. He worked out that if he
hooked the drifting man while he was still far enough up-river, then the
current would probably do the work and his rod and line would only have to
steer the man to the right spot.
I realise that you've never fished a Dane out of a river before but does this sound plausible to you?! And is the part about the bail-bar and
breaking strain of the line correct?
5. The Norwegian cranked the reel-handle. The bail-bar snapped over and the
slack part of the line began winding back onto the spool. He paused for a
moment to give time for the spoon to sink and then he gently drew the spoon
over the Dane's midriff. He felt the hook snag, pulled back on the rod and
the tip bent. His fish was hooked! He then says that as always after
hooking a big fish, he eased off the reel's drag - so line would run out of
it if too much strain came on it. With the line wrapped through the crook
of the Dane's elbow, the inertia was massive and he knew that it would take
all his skill to reel him to the bank. After steering him in and fighting
the back-pressure with his rod twitching and bending he held the man firm
and prevented him from being swirled out into the river again. Keeping the
tension on the line he steered his catch into the dead water close to a
ledge and reached out and grabbed his jacket. Please advise if the actual
description of catching the 'fish' is correct?
I'd be very grateful for any information you can provide to help us with
our research and we will, of course, send you a copy of the magazine upon
Basically everything seems plausible. Do question the manufacturers
of the life jackets however just to be doubly certain. Was the
guy unconscious or conscious? If he's conscious then absolutely
no problem at all - I'd be keen to try it myself sometime :-)
A quick search reveals "The instructions warn against excessive exposure to rain
but the trigger mechanism appears to be well protected against accidental exposure to water."
So I gather from this that heavy rain could cause the garment to inflate (especially if left in a puddle)
These guys make for quite a few people (I am told) http://www.stearnsinc.com and could be worth emailing.
Sorry that this email is a bit disjointed (I did it in three parts - and why not?)
I'd love to receive a copy and is it ok if I make mention of this unusual question on
my website? No doubt it would raise some interesting discussions and would
be great advertising for you!
ps Lisa, one other point I perhaps should mention: this story is not fly fishing;
it is in fact spinning :-) http://www.sexyloops.co.uk/glossary/flyfishing.shtml
probably doesn't help describe flyfishing.
http://www.sexyloops.co.uk/glossary/fly.shtml *may* do :-)
So there you go! Now if this doesn't deserve some discussion I'll eat my (lost) hat. Let's talk life jackets for starters...