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  1. #1

    Default A knotty question

    I had a window of opportunity to go fishing last night. Storms were rolling in and I thought they would hit before I was able to even wet my line but I was able to be out on the water for over two hours before lightening made me scamper for the car.

    It was a little rough night. The wind was blowing some and I was having trouble casting the 4wt I brought. I think it is more because I have not been fishing much than because of the wind. I know my two problems and I have to break the habits: I cast with my arm waaaay too extended and I tend to have a jerky and forced cast. Whenever I stop and think, I pull my arm in, relax, and let the rod do the work and everything works. Last night, there was a huge amount of tumbled line but I digress...

    I was using a furled thread leader. It was not too long: 55-inches on a 7' 6" rod. But I was having beaucoup trouble with logs and trees and bushes and poison ivy last night. I swear I got caught on everything and anything that was within ten feet of me. I lost more files and tied on more tippet in those two hours than any other two-hour period I have been attempting to fly fish.

    Tying on tippet and losing flies does not bother me, even all I did last night. But what did bother me last night was all the unintended hook-ups on plant part--both alive and dead.

    My biggest concern is this: I put on a new leader last night. It was the first time I used it. Once, I got hooked on a pile of debris and there was no way the hook was coming out. It was too far away to try to reach and, even if I was wearing waders, it was in a spot that was too deep. My only hope was to break the tippet and accept the loss. Well, doing that was easier said than done.

    I wonder why it is harder to break the tippet on purpose than when there is a fish on the other end??

    Anyways, it finally snapped and, of course, everything comes flying back to shore. And everything is a twisted mess. Okay, so what? Been there, done that too many times to count. Except for this time. This time, it hit a branch that was near me and the ball that was created was even more of a rat's nest than normal.

    It was then that I saw it: a knot that was waaaaaay out near the end of the leader. A knot that will never be able to be untied in this lifetime or the next. I know if you get a knot in your tippet, you better change it; otherwise, you will lose the next big fish you catch. If a know weakens a tippet, what will it do at the end of a furled leader? I would hate to pitch a furled leader that has two hours on it. I kept fishing last night and there did not seem to be any ill effect but, of course, I caught only bluegill last night. Even the biggest bluegill isn't the size of a smallish trout. Is this leader shot? Should I keep it only for bluegill? Or can it still be used until it falls apart?

    My second question is this: Is there a secret to getting a hook out of a branch like I hooked? In this example, the fly is not wrapped around the branch; it is only embedded in the wood. I pretended to cast several times thinking that would dislodge it but to no avail. I always end up just reeling everything in as far as ti will go and then just pull. Something tells me there is a better way to do this. There is probably an easier/better way to dislodge a hook and to make a tippet break.

    Any and all solutions welcome.

    Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” –Henry David Thoreau
    Time flies like an arrow but fruit flies like a banana.” –Groucho Marx

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Pinedale, WY
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: A knotty question

    Ray: I wouldn't want to throw that new furled leader away either, I'm inclined to just keep using it. Sometimes I have had success with getting a fly that is stuck on a log by doing a couple roll casts. Sometimes it works, other times not. Sounds to me you need to find a less frustrating spot to fish.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: A knotty question

    You didn't mention roll casting which is the best cast for tree lined streams. If you want to pull down tree branches just use a heavier tippet. Fish always bust off before trees it's just a rule that will never change.

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: A knotty question

    Not sure if the leader was one of ours or not. We make a 50” leader for short rods, but not a 55”. Either way, a knot in a thread furled leader will not create a weak point as in a tapered nylon leader. As you experienced, a knot should not cause issues with casting / presentation. I have a few fly fishing guides across the country that do multi-day float trips with our leaders. They will mail me a leader every once in a while from a client that had some casting issues. The leader will have multiple knots, etc, but the pics of the many fish netted show that nothing negative occurs with a couple of knots.

    As for removing a fly being stuck in the brush / tress, I have no steadfast advice. Each individual situation has its own set of requirements. We have all had one of those days that come with snags, knots, dropped flies, bad knots etc. The good news is, if you had all your bad luck for the year in one day of fishing, then the rest of the season should be clear sailing.

    I have been fishing furled leaders for many, many years. And, yes I have been snagged on a tree or brush numerous times. I have never had that springy / coiling mess that I often hear about. When I break off intentionally, I do as I guess others do. I point my rod straight at the snag. I then pull until the fly comes free or the tippet snaps. The one thing I do is continue the motion of the line/leader/tippet so it passes me by. Meaning, rather than have the line/leader come to an abrupt stop by hitting you in the chest and piling up, I allow the line/leader to pass me by and extend in a pile (typically in the water). I believe this tip will eliminate the coiling mess you described. Hope that helps.

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  8. #5
    mridenour Guest

    Default Re: A knotty question

    I have been able to get all my knots out of my furled leaders and I live in the trees. Generally, hang up and break off but attempt to pull the line low toward the water as much as possible. It doesn't tangle up nearly as bad hitting water as it does hitting a tree branch. There are some ways to get a hook loose from a tree but most run the risk of damaging your rod.

  9. #6

    Default Re: A knotty question

    Well, water is limited close to my house. This place is about 15 minutes away and I can sneak off there (sometimes) and get an hour or so in. I probably made it sound worse than what it might be. I decided to try some spots last night that are, shall I say, hard to get to and hard to cast from! Not my normal spots. That said, we have been having a lot of rain this spring and, now, summer, and the vegetation is running rampant. Everything in the two places I have been to this year is choked with all sorts of plant growth.

    I did try the rollcast first and often. It does work a lot of times. It just did not work a few times last night and I made a spring-like leader those times.

    And I do try to make everything as straight as possible when I pull. I think I did something a little different last night, especially on the one that caused the spring mess: I usually reel in as much line as possible before I start to slowly pull. Last night, I was impatient and I think I did not do that. I know I didn't do that on the bad one. When the line shot back, it missed me and wrapped around 1,000 stubby leaves on a branch in that little, springy ball.

    But I have never tried to "continue the motion." That actually makes a ton of sense. I need to put that in the old brain and then do the impossible: remember it whenever I need to use it.

    And, Mike, pulling it straight back AND toward the water...another sage piece of advice I need to stow away.

    I have to admit, I get tangled up a lot but this was the first time I could not remove a knot from the leader. It was quite depressing but I see now I will survive.

    Thanks for all the advice. Each post had very useful points in it. This place is the best.

    Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” –Henry David Thoreau
    Time flies like an arrow but fruit flies like a banana.” –Groucho Marx

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