Friday, February 24, 2012

Tackling Obsession

My favorite rig...even though I've never caught a fish with it.





Periodically I become obsessed with fishing. This has been going on for years, but just today I realized that the obsession usually coincides with the arrival of a fishing catalog from Cabela's or Gander Mountain. So...mad props to the marketing guys who figured me out long before I became aware of their evil machinations.
My obsession doesn't usually extend all the way to actual fishing. Rather it stops short at the purchase of fishing tackle. I am seduced by bright, shiny objects and fishing tackle abounds with these. Exotic rods that bend in graceful arcs. Reels that gleam like jewels filled with tiny precision-machined parts that rival Swiss watch works. Lures bedecked with foils and holographic film and neon colors calculated to craze the fisherman, if not the fish. Who could resist this stuff? Not me.
It's not enough that fishing tackle is so enticing to look at. It feels good too. There is a satisfying heft and substance to proper gear. It has presence that transmits itself through your hands. Turning the crank on a nine-bearing reel redefines 'smooth' in sublime and mysterious ways. No Byron poem was ever so sensual nor any lover so addicting. Jiggling a rod to test the action at the tip sets up a subtle vibration. The rod oscillates in diminishing sine waves and your arm carries what feels like the beat of nature straight to your heart. Who would not be smitten? Again, not me.
Once you're geared up, you need boxes and bags and whatnot to keep everything organized and protected and to display it to its best advantage to your fellow fishermen. All your gear needs to be maintained in it's pristine newness. Mine does anyway. I've seen crusty lures and pitted reels, but they mostly belong to guys who like to fish.
My favorite rig is pictured above. It is a Penn Fierce 4000 reel on a Shakespeare Ugly Stick 7½ foot medium action rod. I like a long rod because I fish (when I fish) from piers and shorelines, and the extra length helps me cover a lot of water. There is a huge variety of fish in the Indian River Lagoon, which is close to hand—trout, red drum, snook, pompano, tarpon. Some of these fish can grow quite large; others not so much. My rig is substantial enough to handle pretty big fish, but not so stout that it lacks the sensitivity to finesse smaller fry. Even though I sound like I know what I'm talking about, I have yet to catch a fish with this outfit—principally for lack of trying.
This is why I don't obsess over a boat. If I had a boat I'd feel compelled to take my tackle out on the water and try my hand at actual angling. This would mean getting my precious gear wet, or worse, getting it into the mouth of a fish. Oh, the horror!

QUESTION: What's your magnificent obsession, and how do you tackle it?

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