Got my knot off!

Got my knot off!

Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Last week was cool. Well, by South Florida standards anyway. I’m sure most folks around the world would say the mid-40s is nothing of note, but it threw a switch that will color our fishing for months.

But counter-intuitively, I did not go fishing. While the air temperature was wonderfully comfortable for being outside I knew from experience that the water temperature would follow a step behind and our semitropical fish would seriously take notice. I’ve found in the past that my usual target fish act a bit dazed when the water is in that first significant drop. The weather will no doubt rebound. It is South Florida after all, and it is quite common for Christmas day to be in the 80’s. The fish sometimes respond to that rebound warming with gusto and may go on a feed like bears before hibernation. You can bet I’ll be there for that!

So, instead, I spent two days enjoying the weather while trying to dig out from more hurricane mess. After the storm, I managed to clear a large percentage of broken tree limbs from my canopy. There were many however that I could not reach: the ones at the very top of the trees. I had hoped wind and time would bring them down, and some did volunteer. There are a few however that will need some coaxing, and they are some real beauties. I really cannot leave them to chance as they fit right well in that common description of  “widow makers”.


I do not know if anyone reading this has considered climbing to be a sporting activity but I find it very interesting. A good friend and fishing buddy moved to the far NW corner of the US year ago, and afterwards, he introduced me to climbing. Rock climbing is pretty well known, but out there in the temperate rainforests tree climbing is a sport of its own. I doubt there are many, if any, sport tree climbers in Florida, as our trees are nowhere as impressive as out west, but there is a commercial offshoot in arboring. The gear is pretty much the same. A few years ago, I decided to plunk down the deposit for some beginner equipment as the price was less than a year cost of having my trees professionally trimmed. I’ve been climbing, and pruning, my own trees ever since.


It is a very complicated endeavor. You need the right equipment, like anything else, but you also need to learn the basics from someone with experience. There is, after all, some serious health considerations if you screw up. Are you a knot freak? What if your health or life depended on your knots? Guess what. Do you like being tactical? Your attack and subsequent route through the branches must be carefully planned. And, of course, there is the physical aspect of hauling your body weight plus the arboring equipment up the rope. For sure, there are techniques and gadgets that minimize the physical part. Despite those, I know it is the most physical endeavor that I have ever attempted. It is a full body workout.


So, by Saturday afternoon, after a day and a half of climbing, I had to call it quits. I came down and while drinking a well-deserved beer I marveled at how physically exhausted my entire body felt. No trip to the gym ever made me feel like that! So, of course, I decided I needed to take a rod out into the park and cast a bit to loosen everything up.


I have been experimenting with a closed stance. It is something I do naturally when striving for accuracy, but I’ve always used an open stance for distance. Saturday I just wanted to feel the flow and give my body an opportunity relax. My goal, at first was simply to form good loops. My body felt almost like I was high as, at first, I felt as if every muscle was tight and almost numb. But, after a bit, I began to get a glimpse of how the rod foot forward allows for a different input into the delivery stroke. And after that, I saw how it allows the line hand a more natural path for the haul.


And then, without even the slightest hint of what was coming, the backing knot slipped right up into the guides!


Holy shit!


I looked around to see if someone would recognize what had just happened, but of course, there was no one, and they would not have understood anyway.


I immediately went into deconstruction mode. What had I done differently? I really was not paying attention! It was an almost unconscious cast. All I could remember was that that particular cast had felt really good. I felt the load in my rod hand and I felt the line tension during the haul on my finger of the line hand.


Once upon a time, long ago, I was a pretty good basketball player, and it was a common occurrence to “know” the shot was good as soon as it left your hand. I think this was somewhat the same thing.


And, of course, as soon as I began to think about it, and tried to duplicate the cast, I could not. I was back to my usual distance. Now, this was not the first time I had got my knot off. It had happened a few times, and therefore I knew I could do it, but much like this time the others had been almost a fluke and were not repeatable that day.

And that has to be one of the things that really gets to me about flycasting. Why is it that I have an almost repeatable distance cast that I can usually summon without really much effort? In fact, I usually can reach that distance, repeatedly, especially if I do not try too hard. But once I try to add just a little bit more to it I am just as likely to fall short as I am to exceed it. I have to be having a really “on” day to significantly add to my standard cast. When that happens it is a real challenge to make it stick.


I have been casting in the same place for many years and the landmarks keep getting further away so I know improvement is possible.


I just hope I don’t have to climb trees for a day to get there.


Maybe it was the beer?