Ah, summer. Ah, fishing for bass from our
clunker boat. The leaky, flat-bottomed,
heavy as concrete, squeaking oar-locks,
paint-peeling, dry-rotting, launchherinthespring,
boat. My folks had a cottage on a lake in
Michigan, on a lake, it had fish, I had a boat
and a casting rod and reel.
Were you one of the guys who bought the rubber
covering thing for the side of your casting reel
so it was more comfortable? I was. Did you spend
whatever time was necessary to get the pressure
on each of the knobs on each side of the reel
so it would spin just right? Not too tight, but
no play either? I did that. A lot.
And I greased it. And oiled it, and took a lot
of it apart and cleaned those parts too. That
reel was one of my few treasures. I was deadly
with it. Give me a Johnson spoon (with or without
Josh's Frog) and I could place it, land it, present
it, or skip it by, near, under or along side of
any dock (with or without the aid of moonlight).
When I turned the handle the line came in. When
a fish took out line the handle went the other way.
And then along came my first spinning reel.
It was not a Mitchell, I started with a
closed face one first. But that doesn't
matter. The point is this. It was my start
downhill. My back-sliding. My first tentative
creeping steps along the 'Primrose Path.'
Gone were my days of being responsible. No
longer would it be up to me and my skill in
'reeling' in a fish to be successful or not.
Now, it was up to the reel. If I reeled in
and the fish went out, I could keep on reeling
anyway. I could do that with a spinning reel.
With my casting reel if I did that something
would bust. Often my knuckles as I recall. I
would be cranking in and the fish would decide
to go away for a while. My reel would stop and
the handles would spin like a miniature
merry-go-round in high speed. Usually removing
small clumps of hide from any finger parts within
proximity. Hence, the term, 'Knuckle-buster' was
often applied to them.
And so, now I made it easier to land a fish.
And talk about casting! Holy-Cow! Those things
flung a bait a mile. The world on the other
side of the lake, pond, stream, river and creek
opened up for us all. We could now get there
and could not screw up landing a fish. And then
the new rods came along. Well, that did it. How
could a guy fail? Seriously, just what could you
do to mess up? No bird nests, no broken lines
due to jamming your thumb into a casting reel
to stop it, and now rods that you couldn't break
if you bent them tip-to-handle. What was left
Well, whatever it was, it was not as much as
there had been there before. I had lost something!
I had lost part of the challenge or my equipment.
The talent to handle my gear correctly. This is
not a good thing. Did I notice it at the time?
Of course not. Am I sure of it now. Yes, I am.
And I think it is one of the reasons that
fly-fishing appealed to me, but I didn't know
it at the time.
Do I think there are times for a fly reel that
is a multiplier, or a direct/indirect drive?
Sure, I suppose there are. Is it harder to
land a fish on a short/stiff fly rod than a
noodley one? We all know that answer. There
are even times when a rod might be chosen for
it's abilities to land a fish rather than it's
ability to cast a fly to the same fish. But,
when we make those kind of decisions, are we
robbing ourselves of anything? I don't know,
only you do, but it might be something to think
If we make it too easy, are we spoiling it
in some ways. Is it more fun to use a reel
that does not have a rim control drag? Some
of you never put a fish on the reel anyway,
so that wouldn't make any difference. What
if you did put all of your fish on the reel?
Then what? You missing anything? Don't know.
I have said in the past and still mean it,
that if they want to regulate our catches
of fish, trout, pan fish etc. outlaw long
rods. Make all fishing poles five feet; steel.
Reels? Center-pin. Use whatever line you want.
No C&R, keep all you land.
Have we made it too easy these days? Have we
taken out some of the enjoyment along with
the skill and talent necessary to excel at
our pastime? I think we have, a little. ~ JC