The length of the cast didn't matter too much because sundown was almost upon us and the bass were moving close to shore for their nightly forays against the minnows. Something, probably a bass, struck his lure. You could tell because he tried to set the gang hooks, and another plug sank to the bottom of the lake.
I sidled over to him. He was reeling in his thread, looking grim and smug in the same instant.
"Any strikes?" I asked.
"Just had one," he said, rooting in his box for another plug. "Lost him. I'm using a very light line."
Actually, it was not so much the so-called line that was causing him trouble. It was the rest of his tackle—the stiff rod tip, the heavy reel without drag attachment and those gang hooks. With balanced tackle he would have been able to cast better, even with cotton thread, and with a single-hook lure he might have been able to set a hook. One hook is easier to set than a gang hook.
In fact, with spinning tackle, it is by no means impossible to take big fish on a very light line. Mostly it requires patience, sharp hooks, care in setting the drag, a quick, sensitive touch on the rod and a willingness to pump endlessly to recover line—in other words, the basic skills which are the property of all really fine fishermen, as differentiated from trophy bores and the angling assassins being bred by the big-money tournaments (SI, Nov. 7, 1960).
Thus, one of the more respectable ISFA records was a 20-pound six-ounce Chinook salmon taken on two-pound test line from the North Fork of the Lewis River in Washington. Certainly it took skill to kill that salmon, confounding his powerful lunges with the drag of the reel, which released line whenever the pull approached its breaking point, and by keeping the limber rod tip high to further cushion any shock against the line. In due course, with the salmon finally wearied of the struggle against this passive nonresistance, it simply lay at rest, and the spin angler (E. J. Halkoski) was able to recover line and eventually kill the fish.
Hats off, then, to E. J. Halkoski, who did not horse in his fish on tackle suitable for tuna. He worked hard and ably in the tradition of light-tackle men. Hats off, too, to the ISFA. For, whatever may be thought of some of these early ISFA records (excluding genuinely impressive performances like Halkoski's,) they have begun to inspire a movement of a similar sort in other branches of light-tackle angling where records are not so important as the sport itself.
In the past year Abercrombie & Fitch has sold somewhere between 500 and 600 of its Banty fly rod, line and reel combinations. All three components are specially designed for each other. The reel is specially made by Hardy, weighing 2? ounces; the tubular glass rod is only four feet four inches long and weighs, believe it or not, just one ounce. The tapered fly line is 30 yards long and can be cast 50 feet by any ordinary angler. Customers who doubt their ability to cast this far are taken to the store's roof pool and there prove to themselves that they are experts.
It is to be hoped that the movement spreads, not so much for the sake of records but for the sake of pure angling pleasure. For any legal-sized fish taken on a rod and reel like this, using appropriate terminal tackle, must provide a maximum of the aggravation fishermen call fun.