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The Super Spool

Fishing rods are a nuisance in a canoe. They’re always getting snagged on tree branches, stepped on, left behind; they hook packs and bodily extremities more often than fish, they occupy valuable hand space on portages, and your novice bow–paddler learning how to cast with one is a positive menace.
And yet fresh–caught trout or pickerel is one of a back–country trip’s supreme pleasures, and a fish catching device (other than the C.I.L. variety) is an essential piece of emergency gear.

spool_finished2While on a vacation trip to Australia many years ago, I came across a novel hand–spool. What was unique about it was the bevel on the far rim. This, as was demonstrated to me, allowed casting. I was very impressed to see the angler unwind his lure on about 3 feet of line, whirl it around a couple of times, release, and achieve a casting distance of about 30 yards. He faced the spool in the direction he wanted to cast, and the flung lure pulled the line out just as it would from a reel. Then he turned the spool 90 degrees and wound it back up. If a fish struck, he could even play it, pinching the line with his fingers as it rolled off the bevel again.

A great device, it was small, light, cheap, nearly unbreakable, and I bought 3. (Unfortunately it was also patented.)
I’ve never seen them marketed in North America, however while passing through a plumbing aisle at a Home Depot the other day, I saw a PVC pipe adaptor with a bevelled face, so I bought it and a few other small items and assembled a hand spool of my own.

The one depicted here is better than the original. It has a better grip, and has a tackle compartment large enough to hold all the lures an honest man is likely to need. (Bob Izumi wouldn’t be impressed, but in actual fact pike and pickerel are not over–particular. A few spoons and mr. twister jigs are usually enough.) The tackle compartment will also keep the unit afloat long enough to fish it out–probably.

It’s a great unit. It’s a rod and tackle box all in one, it fits easily into a pack, it’s cheap, and you’ll never break the tip off of it.

pool_with_lures

Materials

1 – 3″ to 4″ PVC sewer pipe adaptor (mine was white)
1 – 4″ end cap
1 – tube of “Plumber’s Goop” adhesive, the variety suitable for PVC (not the standard PVC pipe connector solvent. The “Goop” is a bit like silicone sealant and works better.)
1 – 6″ of 3/8″ dowel
1 – small piece (8″ x 8″) of 1/4″ plywood or doorskin
2 – brass #8 x 1 1/2 screws
1 – sheet 220 grit sandpaper
1 small acid brush for the glue

Tools
hacksaw, fretsaw, countersink, electric drill, 3/8″ drill bit, 1/16″ drill bit, chisel

Method
1 Using a sharp chisel, pare off the raised numbers found on the bevelled surface of the adaptor, so they won’t snag your line as you cast. If the edge of the bevel is rough, smooth it out with fine sandpaper.

2 Center the small end of the adaptor on the flat face of the end cap, so that the opening of the end cap is away from the adaptor. Trace the outer circumference of the adaptor on the end cap. Now cut the marked circle out of the end cap, carefully, so that the adaptor piece fits snugly inside the hole. (Start the cut by drilling a hole, and then use a jig saw. If you’re using a fret saw, take the saw apart and reassemble with the blade in the hole.)

3 Place the large end of the adaptor on the plywood, and trace the inside circumference. This will become the tackle compartment lid. Then place the small end on the plywood and trace the outer circumference. This will become the tackle bottom. Cut out both pieces.

spool_taken_apart4 Glue the adaptor into the end piece, letting it intrude about 1)8″ into the end cap compartment. Sand the glue surfaces lightly first. “Plumber’s Goop” allows you about 30 seconds for adjustment. While the glue is still wet, glue the smaller plywood disc on as well (tackle box bottom).

5 Figure out how much space you need for your fingers ( 3)4″ ?), then drill a hole through both sides of the end piece for the dowel. You might want to allow room for wearing gloves.

Then cut the dowel to the right length, and glue it in place. I made mine too close the first time, so I took it out and pared about a third of the diameter of the dowel away, and sanded it smooth.

6 Attach a handle of some sort to the other plywood disc you’ve cut out, and make sure this lid fits into the bevelled piece. It should be snug, without binding. To keep it there, cut 2 #8 brass screws long enough so that after they’ve been countersunk into the PVC, the shanks will protrude inside about 1)8″. Then, with the lid in place, measure in from the edge. Transfer this measurement to the outside, allow for the thickness of the screw, and drill and countersink a hole on each side. The heads must not protrude or the line will get snagged, and the shanks should be just clear of the wood inside. Dry–fit the screws, and mark their location on the plywood. Then remove the plywood, and cut the slots for the screws. Make sure everything fits, and then glue the screws into place. (Rough up the undersides of the screw heads first, so the glue will get a grip on the brass.) The lid works by pushing the slots past the screw shanks, then turning the lid so the slots and screws no longer line up.

spool_finished7 Drill two 1/16″ holes through the back flange of the reel. This will give a secure place to fasten the line.

8 It may be that the unit is longer than it needs to be. If so, cut it to an appropriate length with the hacksaw, and sand smooth the cuts.

9 String the unit with at least 10 lb line. Practise casting with a sinker. After use, the lure can be tucked into the tackle compartment–still attached to the line–and the lid inserted to hold all in place. This means there’s nothing to hook you or your pack during transit.

spool_on_tape_measure