Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

A Knot Story


I have considered, many times, starting a photo collection.  This would be no ordinary photo collection, but rather one of knots.  I have seen books on knots and even art pieces of knots.  Knots in fact are a big piece of the fly fishing puzzle.  They are, how we tie flies; connect the leader and tippet material, and how we connect the fly to the line.  However, I am talking of the knots that come along with the sport of fly-fishing that no one talks about.  Those mind blowing puzzling ones that mysteriously end up on the end of the line while casting.  Everyone does it from the pros to the novice.  This collection would simply be a way to document another one of nature’s mysteries.  Some are big and some small and some are easily undone while others hopeless.  I can sometimes explain how they happen, but sometimes can’t.  As a guide, I have seen an abundance of these knots, many more than the average angler, and many of them picture worthy. Knots are no doubt a funny part of the sport.  
As a guide I tell lots of stories. Some of fishing, some of life, and of course as a fisherman some even have to be embellished upon (the embellished stories are of course rare).  Fly fishing is a great couple’s activity and when I do have a couple out I have a story of knots, fishing, and life that I tell quite often and it seems to fit well with the theme of the month of February when love is in the air.
I once dated a beautiful young lady, by far the most attractive I ever dated.  I can remember the knots that my tongue would tie when I would try to call on her.  How I got her to agree to go on the first outing with me I still have no idea.  Much like fishing, sometimes you simply cast out blindly and hope for the best, and sometimes it works! Either way, that is neither here nor there or I guess, an all-together different story.  The only flaw I could find in our developing friendship was our stark difference in the amount of time spent outdoors.  In fact, I believe her only outdoor activity was walking from her car to the mall and back and often done as quickly as possible.  So I set out to get her outside.  I bought her first pair of hiking boots and her first fly rod.  She took to it quickly and before long, most every weekend was spent in the mountains on a river or stream.  She turned out to be my favorite fishing partner, at the time, as she could out fish many of the guys I hung around with at the time.  She asked me once “how do I get good at this, like real good.  I need one tip that will help me get to the next level.  I didn’t pause long before replying...”untie all of your own knots”.  You see this reply was threefold.  First, in theory, it would teach her patience as many wind knots can be tedious to undo.  Secondly, it would, again in theory, teach her to learn the cast well enough that these knots would be minimized.  But perhaps, in hindsight, the true motivation for my answer was that it would get ME out of untying them.  She quickly set out to test this theory.  When she would happen to find her line tied in the mysterious ball of twisted leader material, she would promptly sit down on a streamside rock and concentrate on the task at hand.  I can still remember looking over my shoulder to see her sitting on the rock, knot in hand, one sunny day.  The next moment she was standing at my side.  “I don’t like your theory,” she said.  “If I have to keep untying all of these knots, I am probably done.”  It was one of those picture worthy knots, a tangled mess with seemingly no end.   My theory had backfired.Now that we are married, whenever we find the time to fish, I still untie all of her knots.

Fishing Tip:
I think there is value in that ill-fated theory.  Patience is a key to the sport and untying those knots will help you find such a virtue.  Also, although we call them wind knots, their cause can usually be found in a flaw in casting technique.  This flaw is typically in the length of pause on the back cast.  If your pause is too short, you are starting the line back forward before it has a chance to straighten behind you.  This often results in knots….sometimes big knots.

Small fish and big memories,
Alex Quick