Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Voices from the Past: John Alden Knight

John Alden Knight was probably best known for his Solunar Tables—still being used by fisherman today—but he was also a syndicated outdoor writer and here is one of his many columns, from the 1954 Humboldt Standard.



My son and I every season fish a pool in one of our trout streams wherein resides a school of king-size brown trout. These fish feed regularly on floating insects. We find them rising and dimpling the surface every day, taking the drifting food which the current brings them.

I know it sounds like Heaven on Earth; big fish in quantity, rising to drifting hatches. However, like most things in this world, there is a catch to it. Those big brownies feed almost exclusively on tiny midges, almost impossible to imitate artificially.

Thus, fishing for them is somewhat of a paradox; tackle enough to hold them does not interest them, while fine tackle and small hooks, on which they can be hooked now and then, either breaks or the tiny hooks tear free. The largest trout landed from that pool by us in five years weighed 2 3/4 pounds although we have hooked some of triple that weight.

This year things promise to be different. Now we have some hooks from France - fine, needle-sharp, and incredibly strong.
They are one-pointed and bit deep, the way small hooks should. Once set, they will hold large trout.

More important, however, is a new leader material which has
been developed in western Germany. It is called PLATYL.
On the desk before me is a roll of it which calibrates, on my own micrometer, four and seven-tenth thousands of an inch. This hair-fine strand has a breaking strength of almost two pounds. As I say, those big trout are scheduled for serious trouble this season.

Orvis Two-Ounce Rod
Back in 1949 we moved into our new house on the outskirts of town.. During the course of that moving some person - unknown, fortunately for him or her - appropriated my little Garrison fly rod that I used for small stream fishing.

Since 1949 I have been trying to find a rod that would replace, satisfactorily, the one that was stolen. No luck. Something was wrong with every one I could find.

Then last winter I was talking one evening with Duckie Corkran of the Charles F. Orvis company. As you probably know, this is the company that makes rods of Bakelite – impregnated bamboo.

Duckie told me that they were turning out a new model, six and one-half feet long and weighing exactly two ounces. I asked him to send one to me so that I could look it over.

I'm happy to say that my small-rod troubles are at an end.

The little rod does everything I want it to do. Although small, it is in no sense a toy, and it is capable bf handling a surprising amount of line.

Next time you happen to be near a store that carries Orvis rods, drop in and look at one of these two-ouncers. I'm sure that you will agree with me that it is the ideal rod for small stream fishing.

-- Dr. Todd

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