Fishing without hooks, rods, reels: this old method still works | Fishing


Walk into a fishing tackle store to find a bundle of hooks and it can be overwhelming. Dozens and dozens of hooks in different sizes and styles made by different manufacturers. And the choice you make is very important. After all, this hook is the penultimate bond between you and the fish.

I reflected on how far hooks have come while watching an Outdoor Boys YouTube video with my grandsons Jon Thomas and Mac. The Outdoor Boys is a channel featuring a father and three sons (and sometimes mom) enjoying outdoor adventures. This particular episode was titled “Camping trip to primitive survival fishing and cooking: no hooks, rods or reels”.

The father and his youngest son (the other two were still in school) walked to a nearby pond and started collecting earthworms to use as bait, then the father started digging a throat to fish – the predecessor of the hook. Imagine a shortened round toothpick, maybe an inch long, with a small notch in the middle in which to attach your fishing line.

After making several gorges, the father found a long stick to use as a fishing rod, tied a line and tied it to one of the gorges. He then cut a section of worms along the length of the throat and pushed the bait over the throat so that only the ends of the throat were exposed, then tightened the line so that the throat was perpendicular to the line.

He explained that a throat is not as efficient as modern hooks and does not work very well on larger fish, but shortly thereafter he landed enough sunfish for the evening meal.

The fish can swallow the baited throat, but when you pull back and put tension on the line, the throat spins sideways and becomes lodged inside the fish. He used another stick to dislodge the throat so he could put it on his spar.

Fish throats appeared much later than the first hooks, made from seashells and bones thousands and thousands of years ago. And steel hooks have been around for hundreds of years.

When you look at the hook displays in modern fishing tackle stores, you will find two basic styles of hooks: the J-hook, so named because it is shaped like the letter J, and the circular hook. They come in sizes small enough to hook fish with tiny mouths to giants designed to land large billfish or sharks. The barbed point of the J-hook is parallel to the rod.

More recently, fishermen have preferred the circular hook in which the barb is turned towards the rod. Instead of having to adjust the hook, the hook is designed so that when you tighten your line, the circle hook will usually catch on the corner of the fish’s mouth.

When it comes to catching fish, I don’t need more of a challenge. And I hope I never get caught in a situation where I have to catch a fish to survive. But the Outdoor Boys and their fishing throat intrigued me. So I spent some time this week digging a few gorges and hope to try them on bream soon. The Outdoor Boys’ fish fry looked pretty tasty.

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