Posts Tagged ‘Paracaddis’

Sharp Hooks are Happy Hooks.

August 13, 2010

KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

It often strikes me that there is so much information about fly fishing available and so much debate about the various merits of different methods, tackle options and which fly to use that we lose touch with the basics. I have to keep things basic, I’m not smart enough to make them complex but even if you are a rocket scientist the same holds true.

For me the most basic improvement that anyone can make to their tackle set up is to be using sharp hooks. After all that is pretty much the business end of things and driving for hours in your multi million dollar 4X4, casting with your shiny new ultra modern, super light  graphite rod and mending your hand crafted degressive flourocarbon leader isn’t going to be worth a jot if the darn hook falls out or fails to penetrate when you eventually get a strike.

You see hooks and their sharpness become all the more critical when you are fishing ultralight gear and for most people fishing a Cape Stream that is going to mean rods from triple “ought” to #3 weight and tippets down to maybe 8X. With that gear you can’t exactly wrench a doorstop of a hook into the mouth of a fish and failings in your terminal tackle show up like the proverbial dog’s wedding tackle.

Barbed Hooks are by definition blunt.
We all use barbless hooks if only because those are specified in the rules on the catch and release waters that we fish, however there are plenty of other compelling reasons for converting, even if the rules don’t expect that you should.

Firstly barbless hooks are undoubtedly better for the fish, and even if you intend keeping some of your catch you are still going to hook the “young-uns”  and fish that you don’t want to keep so it is only reasonable that you use barbless patterns.

The more compelling reason is that you will catch more fish because barbed hooks are always effectively blunt. Barbless hooks are far, far more effective at hooking fish and keeping them hooked, particularly noticeable when you are fishing light. The barb on a hook probably at least doubles the frontal area that needs to penetrate on the strike and that quadruples the force required to drive it home properly. Requiring a force to drive it home that will rapidly exceed the pressure exerted with a two weight rod and 8X tippet. Barbs are in effect wedges that PREVENT the hook going home so removal of the barb or using barbless hooks is the first step to improving your hook up and catch rate, no matter where you fish. The second step and it is important to remember that even new hooks aren’t really sharp, is to sharpen them.

If you don't carry a hook sharpener, and use it you aren't being serious about your fishing.

Most (although not all) barbless hooks are manufactured in the same manner as the barbed ones with the simple skipping of the step where the barb is cut into the metal. That means that the hook is generally far thicker than it needs to be at the point and you can remove a goodly amount of hook before affecting its strength in any significant way.

Further the strength of the point isn’t that important, what you want is the hook to penetrate all the way to the bend, when penetrated to its full extent the hook is remarkable strong. If it only goes part the way in then the forces of fighting a fish can and will open up the hook.

We have all heard the stories of “it was a huge fish, straightened the hook“, you cannot straighten a hook that has penetrated all the way to the bend, it is a virtual scientific impossibility unless you are using tippet more properly designed for hand lining giant tuna. Hooks that don’t penetrate properly are the problem and the number one reason that they don’t do so is the barb, followed by the fact that they are not sharp.

So when I tie on a fly, that is EVERYTIME I tie on a fly I sharpen it, no matter that it is new, no matter that it is chemically sharpened or whatever, ever hook gets the same treatment. I like to triangulate the point if possible and thin down the point such that full penetration requires minimal force. My favourite tool for this is an EZE Lap Model “S” ™ diamond dust hook sharpener.  The tool  has a parallel rounded file of diamond dust with flat side and a rounded side in which there is a groove.

To sharpen the hook I first file the sides of the point at approximately 45 degrees using the flat side of the file and then give a few strokes with the grooved portion of the file backwards over the point.

If you would like to experiment or test the effects you can try the following.

An experiment that you can do for yourself, particularly useful if you are something of a doubting Thomas. Probably all of my clients have at one time or another been forced to have a try with the following test, it is proof that sharpened barbless hooks penetrate better and catch more fish as a result at least when using light gear which is pretty much the norm around these parts.

Take a barbed fly from your box and pull it through a piece of thin card or stiff foam, the card from a cigarette box is about the right stuff to use.

You will feel the resistance and probably get a distinct “pop” sound when the barb finally pulls through the card.

Remove the barb from the hook or fly and test it again, you will almost certainly feel a considerable difference in the force required.

Then sharpen the hook carefully and repeat the test once more, the difference between the untreated barbed hook and the carefully debarbed and sharpened version should be enough to convince you for ever. If it doesn’t the number of fish that you hook and land once you have changed your habits probably will.

Oh and if you liked the graphics and the information keep your eyes on Smashwords because they are from a new E book that will be published soon on various tips tricks and techniques that you can use to improve your fly fishing. There are already a couple of free downloads on there that you may like to take a look at but there is more in the pipeline. You can see the books published by myself simply by clicking the link Smashwords

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece, it all helps to keep the motivation going and thanks for reading. Paracaddis aka Tim Rolston.

Happy Birthday Paracaddis

June 6, 2010

A year in the life of the Fishing Gene Blog.

Goodness me, it is pretty much the Paracaddis Birthday and what started out as a means to occupy some time and perhaps do a little good in the cold days of a Cape Winter has turned into something a little bigger than expected and perhaps a little smaller than was hoped.

The paracaddis blog has to date published some 34 Posts, received 35 comments and had well over 4000 views. Not exactly Facebook I suppose but the activity has been pleasing none the less and it certainly has been an interesting project.


Of all of those posts the most visited in a single day “The Ultimate Catch and Release” was in fact not directly a fishing one at all, but about the release of two Ragged Tooth Sharks from the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. The blog not only focused on the release of the sharks but also the dreadful abuse of the sharks of our seas and the seas in general for that matter. Great to know that there are so many concerned and eco-minded people out there.

The release of two sharks back into the wild and its focus on the plight of our much abused marine life proved the most popular piece of the year.

Over time the most visited blogs were related to fishing small streams, particularly those in the Cape Province of South Africa.

Fishing Cape Streams part 1 focused on preparing for a new season. Primarily about what could be done over those gray weekends of winter to get ready.

Fishing Cape Streams part 2 was all about the tackle that would serve best and what modifications you could make to be best prepared for your new season.

Fishing Cape Streams part 3 featured information about all those gadgets and gizmos some of which you might actually need.

To start with though with the rivers closed most information related to fishing stillwaters:

Drift boating: a bit about experiences with this style of fishing, particularly in a place where it is still a fairly new phenomenon, where lakes don’t have their own boats or bailiffs or day tickets. It was one of the first posts on this blog and set the tone for many of the future posts.

First find the fish: Experiences in drift boating when the going is tough and the mantra of all boat anglers is to “Find the fish, find the depth, find the fly”.

Targeting Daphnia Feeders: Experiences with targeting deep water daphnia feeders. A frequently difficult proposition but one that can be over come with the right search tactics and a handful of flies.

All of the above posts received a good amount of attention and that was most rewarding as above all else it was always the hope that this blog would actually help people enjoy their fishing more, primarily by getting better at it.

Of course it couldn’t all be too serious and there was the odd post that was more than a little tongue in cheek. Perhaps the most notorious being the rather naughty new version of the DDD, perhaps one of SA’s most famous flies.

Would the real DDD please stand up?: Well what can I say? This post elicited more comment than most, it seems to still get regular hits and when all is said and done perhaps reminds us that sometimes we take this fishing lark all a tad too seriously.

Duckworth's Dirty Dangler, caused some comment.

On the flip side, there were some onerously detailed, near scientific bits, such as the piece about weighting flies and the myths and unscientific assumptions of anglers about what difference more weight on your fly has. Sure it took a bottle of Jack Daniels, a late night on the keyboard and the revisiting of some long lost school boy maths but the results were interesting. Sink rates, Brass, Tungsten and the great unknown took a seriously detailed look at beaded flies.

Just occasionally we included complex mathematics and got serious.

In the same vein sometimes I took the view that what was really needed was some “talking turkey” and of all the limitations of most fly anglers it is my belief that it is their casting that provides the most trouble, and creates the greatest limitation. Fly Casting Is Yours letting you down? An exploration of why it is that people don’t tend to sort out their casting once and for all. Maybe not what people want to hear but more than likely what they should, call it social responsibility or maybe crass marketing of my book “Learn to Fly Cast in a Weekend”, either way that post still gets quite a bit of attention.

Finally there were a few bits about flies and fly tying, you can’t really have a blog about fly fishing without including some stuff on flies and fly tying I suppose.  Flies, Compara’ and Spun Duns. A pretty detailed look at what I consider to be some of the very best dry flies ever invented and a step away from the more normal Halfordian, Catskill style and parachute patterns.

All in all it has been a busy year, those weeks seemed to whizz by and often times fishing took a back seat, having something worthwhile to write about was on occasion a struggle when I hadn’t been on the water. But now a year later I hope that those efforts provided all the readers with something of interest, something to amuse and occasionally something that really did help you enjoy your fishing more and improve your catch rate.

When I was a child the recipe for our Christmas stockings went along the lines of: Something to eat, something to play with now, something to use long into the future, something educational and something frivolous and my mother would try to include all those things. Hopefully the mix of this blog hasn’t been too different.

Variety is as they say “the spice of life” and one hopes that in writing this blog over the past twelve months I have achieved enough variation to entertain, educate, annoy, amuse and stimulate the readership. Thank you to those who have supported the blog and taken time out to read the musings contained within. If you are a newcomer then I hope that some of the past posts will still prove worthy of your time and that future blogs will prove to be better as experience grows.

Thank you all and happy Birthday “Paracaddis”.