You know what they are, the little tiny loop, ring, guide-type-thing on
the butt of your fly rod just above the handle. Some are free swinging, some solid;
they serve no useful purpose whatsoever. And now you want to argue with me,
right? Before you do, let me at least try to defend my position on this worthless
and dangerous left over from the dark ages doo-dad. (I have seen
beginners thread their fly-line through it)
In the past it was used to hook the fly onto. It kept the fly from dangling while one
changed places on the stream, and very importantly, it kept the leader straight. No
bends or kinks. Great idea. But what should one do if the leader is twelve feet long
and the rod is only nine feet long? If you use the 'hook-keeper,' you put a 360 degree
bend in your leader at the tip-top?
So what do most do? They bring the leader out of the rod tip a little and then take a
turn around the reel and back up to convenient line guide. This does not put a sharp
kink in the leader; experience leads one to this method. It works better. Do the
rod-makers keep putting the goofy little things on? You bet they do. Can they do
it for nothing? Not a chance; guess who pays for it? Right, you do. A tip of the
FAOL hat to the first rod maker who leaves it off and for the right reason.
They are dangerous; they can cause you pain. Here's how it happened to me:
In South Dakota, the Ladyfisher, Al Campbell, and I were fishing a small stream.
The idea to switch rods came up and of course we did for a short while. As we
finished and were walking back along a tote road, we returned rods to the correct
owners. I did not check whether the fly was in the 'hook-keeper' on my rod when
I got it back from Al. We were chatting and having a fine time. You know that a fly
rod does not balance when you hold it by the handle. As I walked along, I automatically
jumped my right hand to the area above the handle to balance the rods weight.
I was now firmly attached to my fly rod, via the 'hook-keeper,' and it's
No one likes to look completely stupid, and as Al had just taken a fast right turn
off the road to fish one last pool, I was able to nonchalantly rip the
@$#&* #16 fly out of my index finger. Yes, index finger, I carry my
rod pointed backwards, saves on breakage if I stumble. A fast wrap with my
handkerchief and by the time Al came up from the stream most of the blood
had stopped. I pocketed the 'tourniquet,' and by applying some minor pressure
was able to continue on to the car for the return ride to the campground.
Years ago I quit using the 'hook-keeper.' It never occurred to me to check if
the fly was in it when I got my rod back. 'Experience,' yes, that's the
thing that tells me I have just done the same dumb thing, again. ~ JC