This is the first instalment of many in a series about the gear we take with us when we are on the trail. Most of our kit has been part of what we do for so long that we don’t think much about it, and pack it out of habit without acknowledging its’ usefulness.
Recently I took a mate out who had never been freshwater fishing in a kayak before, and granted I didn’t really give him much of a heads up as to what to expect. I told him vaguely that he would need to make sure he had some type of footwear that could get wet, and besides that and the type of tackle to bring, I really didn’t think much more was required. I may have failed to mention when I said freshwater fishing that I mean skinny water, lots of portages, and the potential to have to carry or drag the kayak at some point over a reasonable distance. On the way back up the river as my mate was struggling to walk against the current, he pointed out the great idea of the rope I was using to drag my kayak along.
There are a lot of things I have overlooked and taken for granted in my fishing and kayak kit. One of these items is a simple length of rope that is always secured to the front grab handle on the kayak. After it was pointed out to me I realised just how handy it is, and how it’s become such an integral part of my kayak. The rope has many uses such as: pulling/dragging the kayak; as a tow rope especially in case of an emergency like a snake bite; or mooring or anchoring the kayak on the bank or onto a tree in the water if you are planning on peppering some structure. The rope can also be easily removed and used as a rescue rope or tied to some beers and dropped overboard into a deep section of the river for cooling. The uses for it are truly endless.
The rope is rather straightforward, and to be honest any length or type will be sufficient. In saying this, the thinner ropes will cut into the body, and poor quality ropes will eventually break. The set up I use is a little more sophisticated. It is some polyester braided rope and two snap hooks. These are easily procured from any boating supply shop, and should come in well under $20. The length of the rope depends on the user, but I feel anything over 3 meters would be spot on.
The knots used really dependent on your ability. My grandfather was a sailor and I was a scout, but I find a half hitch or two enough most of the time. A bowline would be best practice, but the most important thing is to ensure the knots are secure and will not slip. I recommend checking them constantly before you put faith in them. One end of the rope is attached to a snap hook, and that is secured to the front grab handle of the kayak. On the other end of the rope I have attached the other snap hook, and measured out on my body a comfortable length and placed a loop knot. This allows me to clip the snap hook on to the loop in the rope and create a nice big loop that goes around me, freeing my hands when trudging through slippy rocks and riffles.
Note: If you choose to use the Snap hooks, make sure the rope fits through the eye. Another thing I also tend to do is cauterize the ends of the rope with a flame; I find this stops the rope from fraying.
Well, I hope this has been helpful. Keep an eye out for my next instalment of the little things you overlook, and I will see you on the trail.
3 metres of braided polyester rope
2x Snap Hook 100mm Stainless Steel