Monday, October 17, 2011

I don't need no stinkin' Repala knot

Will Rogers was an American icon and one of my cowboy heroes.  Almost a hundred years ago he had a truly unique vaudeville act.  He would appear on stage twirling a lasso and deliver lines like, "All I know is what I read in the papers."  Although I think if he were alive today, it would be: All I know is what I see on YouTube.

Some of my favorite Rogers one liners are "Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for" and "I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."  My absolute favorite is "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment."

I can apply the last one to a lot of things I've learned the hard way about canoeing and fishing.  Come to think of it, most of us seek knowledge about fishing from experts.  If we didn't there would be no outdoors magazines, websites or blogs.

During the past half century I've spent a small fortune on fishing tackle.  Most of it was lures designed more to catch fisherman rather than fish.  However,  through experience I have e found a handful of lures that work better than most.  My favorite trout lure has to be the original floating Repala.  The reason is simple.  It works!

I've fished with Repalas since the 1970s, maybe longer.  I always treated them just like all my other lures.  I tied an improved cinch knot to a swivel snap and simply clipped the lure on.  I've caught hundreds of fish with that method.  While preparing for a fishing trip to Wyoming last year, I decided to research Rapala lures to see if "the experts" could broaden my horizons and teach me about some new lures that would catch bigger fish.  I happened on to a website that billed itself as something like the unofficial Repala lure site.  The expert there gave a little history of Repala lures and made a big point about using a special "Repala knot" to improve the way the lure attracts and hooks fish.

A few weeks later--armed with new knowledge from an expert, I sat in my bobbing canoe for about ten minutes trying to tie my new, improved super duper Repala knot.  Remember, I bill my blog as thoughts from an old cowboy.  "Old" means that I've had a few joints replaced because they've worn out.  It also means my cataracts  have been replaced with artificial lenses.  A few years back, the conventional wisdom for eye doctors  was to use one lens that's designed to see far and a second lens to see close.  That combination--which I learned from experience--gives you lousy depth perception and makes it d--- difficult to tie small knots in monofilament.

By the time I got my Rapala in the water,  the wind was starting to kick up and the fish had quit bitting.  I spent the next couple of hours paddling near a promising-looking outlet at the lower end of the lake.  I had a couple of strikes, but didn't hook either of them.  I blamed the barbless single treble hook required when fishing Yellowstone lakes.  Finally the wind lulled and I hooked a beautiful brown trout.  I got it right to the canoe before it freed itself.  The next day I was in my favorite fishing spot on the Snake River when I missed two strikes, hooked a lake trout and played it to the canoe before I lost it.  Out of frustration I decided to paddle upstream where a little earlier I had seen several big fish.  When I got there I started collecting weeds, so I decided to change to a floating lure.

Remembering my frustration the day before tying the Repala knot,  I abandoned the expert's wisdom and quickly tied a swivel catch hard and fast.  I put on a new Repala "Hot Steel" floater, cast it behind my canoe, paddled about ten strokes and caught a beautiful 19" cutthroat hybrid trout that even did a beautiful tail-walk on the water while I was playing it.  l immediately turned around, paddled back upstream, and cast my lure behind my canoe.  Wham!  I hooked a lake trout that dived straight to the bottom and started a collection of weeds on my line.  After I landed that 22" laker it hit me.  I don't need no stinkin' Repala knots.

It's like Will Rogers said: "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment."  In this case the bad judgement was not believing in what had worked for years and listening to an "expert" I had never met.  If it ain't broke don't fix it.  I wonder if Will Rogers said that?

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