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Doing the handline twist.

As a Miami brat in the late 1930s, I never had to walk to school in the snow. But I did have to fish with a handline. Don't feel sorry for me. I loved it--the fishing part, anyway. What I hated was putting the components together. Handlines in that distant time were not the high-tech marvels available today. I had to buy the line in a hank and then mate it to a stick.

As the years rolled by, I went on to make haywire wraps, crimp big-game leaders, set up outriggers, tie the Bimini twist, and even concoct a saltwater fly leader out of a befuddling array of materials and knots. But one thing I never did master was the fine art of wrapping a handline onto a stick.

To describe this demanding process as best I can, you start by wrapping the line overhand for three or four inches in the center of the stick. When the overlying layers of line become thick enough to provide a shoulder at each end, began wrapping diagonally, catching the line first on the top shoulder and then on the bottom one. While wrapping, you rotate the stick continuously so that the line builds up in a symmetrical fashion.

The secret of the art was that you did not wrap with your right hand at all (assuming a right-handed handliner), but only used it to feed line. It was your left that dipped and twisted and actually laid the line on the stick. Done properly, the finished arrangement looked something like a corn dog with a stick at both ends.

Please note the use of "you" in the preceding description. I could not, in good conscience, say "I." True, I managed to get enough line on the stick to fish with, but it was seldom tightly wound and never symmetrical. Consequently, wraps of line would fall off my stick at various inopportune moments. I may be the only angler who suffered his earliest backlashes with a handline instead of a reel.

In my grade-school circles, the boys who flew kites for a hobby were the most adept at executing the "handline wrap," because it was done exactly the same way with kite string. A kite flier who decided to take up fishing was already well trained.

Whether you call it the handline wrap or the kiteline wrap, this is now a lost art. The invention of the Cuban yo-yo--a sort of oversize, handheld, spinning-reel spool--eliminated the need for a stick and thus revolutionized the art of handlining. But by the time the Cuban yo-yo came along, I had long since abandoned handlining and advanced (?) to rods and reels.

Apparently, kite-fliers did the same. Quite some time ago, during my middle years, I attended a kite-flying contest at a Miami school and was astonished to see that the contestants were all flying their kites with spinning outfits.
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Title Annotation:Waterfront View; fishing
Author:Dunaway, Vic
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Article Type:Viewpoint essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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