Gramp’s Cramps

Knots and Much More  –By Cliff Kunde

I’ll never forget the book I got for Christmas, by Vic Dunnaway, on knots. It was the ultimate guide to knot tying. Many of my friends had acquired it for a cost, but times were a little tight back then and to walk the swale of Old Cutler Road looking for soda bottles, for the deposit of 2 cents, you only had to collect about a dozen for a gallon of gas to pick your date up on Saturday night. I remember my father saying that a good knot was worth its weight in gold when the fish began to challenge the anglers. He was almost always right except for the time when he said snapping turtles didn’t always bite. I’ve still got the scar on my right ring finger to prove it. The book was an inspiration to all of us young anglers and it got passed around to our friends a lot.

The lines changed over the years from Dacron to mono to braid and so have the knots we use. What was once considered the ultimate connection of our rigs to the rod lines has changed as much as the conversations at the club meetings. Everyone has a solution and favorite way to rig their gear. Lost “World Records” seemed to be common at my old fishing club and that is when the knot tying entered the lively conversation.

“Tying the knot” became a term for an attachment like getting married, be it to a girl or a boat or even your favorite fishing rod. Times were different when we were young and knot types were discussed at great lengths. Even at the boat docks one of my jerky friends would occasionally say, that’s not the proper knot to tie the boat up with. Who cares as long as it was still there when I backed the trailer down.

At the same time, there are good things about knots and there are bad things about knots. Not too long ago at Matheson Hammock park, I witnessed a fellow load his boat on the trailer and proceed to exit the park, however, he failed to put his rods down and the tips were in contact with the overhanging branches of the driveway. Lures or hooks caught in the trees and before the fellow knew it, all the line was stripped of the rods. I can imagine the surprise when he got home. I in the mean time recovered a good number of expensive lures. Had the knots not held he would have still lost the lures, but wouldn’t have had to respool his rods.

Another time I was fly fishing off the Tamiami Trail just East of SR 29, when I had a beautiful 12 pound plus snook, legal at the time, take a swipe at my 4 inch green and blue streamer. He had all intentions of a quick lunch and headed to the mangroves. I went to put the breaks on that idea by setting the hook, however, I believe it was turning the streamer around to swallow when I struck and the fly shot back at me. Excited as I was, I immediately back cast to present that bronze back with another shot. In the excitement, I failed to see this 1960 Ford F150 heading Westbound at a rapid pace. It had a rack on top filled with sprinkler pipes. My backcast did encroach on the pavement by about 20 feet, the Ford never saw it and I was still watching that potential dinner spin around looking for his lunch. I’m sure I tied a good knot because before I could react, my backcast hooked the pipe rack, stripped my line and yanked the whole rig out of my hands. The knot tying the line to the reel even held nicely. About this time I turned to witness my fly rod exiting the area at a substantial speed and at the same time the bank of the canal gave way and I ended up standing in 4 feet of brackish water. I waved to the rod as it fishtailed down the road to Naples like a water skier at Cypress Gardens.

By the time I got out of my fluid dilemma, the rod was well on its way and the snook was now nowhere in site. I dried off as best as I could and waved once more at where my beautiful 9 weight fly rod had disappeared. If the rod got to where that guy was heading, it had to be a sight, if it fell by the wayside somewhere it probably was not in great shape, so I marked the loss up to good knots, the snook for another day and figured, good knots might be worth the loss if it saves a ”World Record” in the future. Tight lines and good knots to you all.