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Hanging Around

Yes, another excellent Stranglers song, but also an opportunity to talk about gadgets!

Some of you will have seen my rather clunky invention of a few years ago for retreiving flies stuck in trees. If you haven't decorated a few trees, many times, then you just haven't fished enough or you're a brilliant caster. It can be annoying of course, but some of us might not appreciate how deadly it can also be.

One of the saddest sights I've ever seen on the river was dead bat hanging from a piece of line attached to a dry fly left dangling from a branch. The line was not even very high above the river, and was easily retieved by standing on less than a foot of water. I decided there and then that I would never leave a fly dangling if I could possibly do anything about it.

I searched online, and in my (now sadly closed) local game fishing shop, and eventually found a telescopic landing net handle that compressed small enough to fit in my fishing bag. I then found a weed-cutter blade that fitted onto the handle, and after a few trials, realised I needed a line attached to the blade, as pulling on the handle did not do much for its integrity. This was Mk 1.

This was quite effective, but a bit clunky, so I tried to design a more lightweight version, and decided to use a broken rod-tip section that would slide into the top two rings of whatever rod I was using. I also had to find a hooked blade to attach to it, and this took a lot of research and trial and error, but I finally came across this tiny survival tool. This is MK 2.

This also worked up to a point, and was much lighter and smaller, but it didn't fit in the tip-ring of some lighter rods, and the weight of the metal blade made it a bit unwieldy in use. Once again, I had tied a length of old fly-line to the metal blade, so as you hooked it onto a branch, and withdrew the rod, once clear, you could pull on the old line, and get close enough to remove the fly and the line. This also meant carrying a bag to hold this gadget, and wouldn't suit a lot of people, so I wanted something smaller. Come in MK 3.

Now this one really is compact and portable, and just required a biggish hook (this is a size 3) and some old fly-line, plus a bit of fiddling about with a small rawlplug. The idea is that the plug sits in the tip-ring of your rod (you don't thread the line through any rings) and then you hook it onto the offending branch, or the tangle of line, or even the dangling fly. You then withdraw the rod and pull on the old fly line. This one does work fairly well, but it's a bit fiddly to set up with the rawlplug (even if you have a wide range of them in your workshop), so I've now had a revelation and realise there's a much easier way to do this. It needs a double-hook (or even a treble). This is MK 4.

Okay, that's not really a double-hook, as I don't have any, so I tied two singles together with self-amalgamating tape until I can get some doubles. All you need to do with this, is hook one bend over the tip-ring, and maneouvre the other over the branch, fly or tangle, then withdraw the rod, and pull on the old fly line again. Probably best to de-barb the hooks, but this is so simple and small, that there's no reason why everyone can't carry one of these, and maybe we'll see an end to most of those dangling flies, and hopefully no more dangling bats or birds.

Any better ideas or comments, please let me know, so that I can share them with everyone else.



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