Problem: After easing your truck to a halt at the trailhead, you take one last swig of lukewarm coffee, jump out and immediately make a fundamental mistake in your anxious anticipation of a great day on the water by rigging up.
Unless the stream runs adjacent to the road, reaching the water usually requires a bit of bushwhacking. As soon as you step off any trail, a dense tangle of wait-a-minute vines, thick bushes, slippery rocks, and hidden roots conspire to protect the stream. Given that reality, the one thing you can do to add to your cross-country agony is to fully assemble the rod, tie on a fly and attempt to solve the calculus of threading a long, wiggly rod through imperceptible gaps in thick vegetation!
Even if successful, an infinite number of branches will leap out to snag and cut the tippet, propelling your carefully tied fly onto the forest floor; never to be seen again. Some believe that instead of poking the rod forward to blaze the trail, it is better to point it to the rear, leveraging the gap your body creates as it moves through the vegetation. I know from personal experience that this is a fool’s solution. As the plant snaps back into place, it will gently pull at the line guides and separate the rod tip, leaving you to contemplate how to fish with only two sections of a three section rod streamside.
Solution: Do not assemble your rod other than firmly attaching the reel to the handle. It is much easier to wiggle through underbrush carrying several short sections. Also, by leaving the rod unassembled, you are less likely to break the tip when you inevitably trip over a camouflaged root or slippery rock and, with arms flailing and gear flying, your focus becomes personal survival rather than the gentle care of a fragile graphite stick. Two related lessons learned in the school of hard knocks:
- Make sure the spool is firmly seated to the frame of the reel, or it will fall off,
- Make sure you take all the sections of your rod. Leaving behind the narrow tip is easy! Gently crumple the rod sock to confirm it is empty