Few things in life are more relaxing, liberating and exciting than fishing. And, like any sport or activity that requires quick thinking and skills with your hands, knives are an essential part of fishing.
To get more insight on fishing and knives, I turned to fisherman Nick Doumel who runs the fantastic fishing blog Brookfield Angler, which I highly recommend you check out.
Nick, who is a project manager for a company that builds tradeshow exhibits, lives just outside Chicago with his wife and 10-month-old son.
Here’s more of our conversation that includes what makes fishing so great, why every fisherman needs a knife and what type of knife works best.
How long have you been fishing and how did you first get into it?
I have been fishing since I was just a few years old when I would go with my dad. As I got older, I started to head out more on my own to local ponds, creeks and rivers – basically any place I could ride my bike to. Once I got my driver’s license, my fishing world got a lot bigger.
When I moved to Las Vegas in my early 20s, fishing took a backseat, and the entire six-year period I lived there, I didn’t even touch a fishing pole.
Once I moved back to the Chicago area, I quickly rediscovered fishing and have been making up for lost time ever since. I am amazed at how much my little break has really made me a much more passionate fisherman today.
What do you enjoy most about fishing?
Aside from the typical relaxation, escaping, enjoying nature, blah blah blah answer, my absolute favorite part of fishing is “the take.” I have always known that I love when the bite happens, but I recently read a post from a fellow blogger named Mr. P that made me realize how much I actually enjoy it; it really is the ultimate highlight in fishing. The way he describes it really verbalizes what I have always felt but could never verbally describe. What’s really fascinating about “the take” is that it can apply to a ton of other things in life if you take the time to think about it.
What type of fishing do you do, and what do you fish for?
2012 has been the year of the fly for me. For as long as I can remember, I have admired fly fishing and held it on a pedestal as some mystic art form that only the truly enlightened could enjoy. In the fall of 2011, I decided that my notions were ridiculous and that I was going to do nothing but fly fish until I really learned how to do it and I have really stuck to that.
Throughout the winter, I left all of my spinning and casting gear at home, opting only to bring my fly rods. That dedication has paid off and I can honestly say that I am completely comfortable with a fly rod; as a matter of fact, I prefer it 99% of the time now. Does this mean that I am up there with the ranks of Lefty Kreh or Joan Wulff? Hardly, but that still doesn’t stop me from pretending.
In regards to what I fish for, I would answer very simply that if it swims, I fish for it. Here in Illinois we are generally limited to warm water species like bass, pike, carp, gar and panfish. We do, however, have Lake Michigan which provides opportunities to catch some big king salmon, browns, lakers, coho and steelhead. A short drive to Wisconsin or Indiana will put you on some rivers/streams where many of those fish make spawning runs so I take full advantage of that when I can.
What inspired you to start your fishing blog, Brookfield Angler?
Originally, my intention was to use it as a detailed online record of my successes and failures so that I could go back and see what did/didn’t work in certain waters, conditions, weather, etc. Additionally, I thought it would be a fun way to learn a little bit about building a website.
After a very short time, I was shocked to learn that somebody other than me looked at the site. I discovered that other people (three of them) were actually reading it too and enjoyed the tales I told. After that discovery, it has progressed into a multi-authored blog with a pretty good following that I can only hope continues to grow.
I think my favorite part of the blogging thing is the interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing that several thousand people read my stuff every month, but I love when they take a minute to leave a comment in response. I suppose you can call it “the take” of blogging.
Do you think knives are essential tools for fisherman?
Without question! For a fisherman, knives serve so many purposes that range from survival to utility; even as a way to turn a catch into a meal.
Why would a fisherman need a knife?
There has to be countless reasons and I am sure that every fisherman has their own, but for me knives serve a couple main purposes.
First and foremost to me is that I tend to fish in many different places from urban areas that some may consider dangerous to pristine mountain top streams. With that, I never know what I may run into. I never know what, or who, may view me as a threat, victim, target or food. As a result, I always carry a knife that is easy to access and quick to deploy because I want to at least have a chance at surviving any potential life threatening encounter.
The second purpose is utility – fisherman may use knives for cutting line, trimming tag ends on a newly tied knot, or even cutting some kindling for a riverside fire, so a good multi-tool is essential to me.
Do you carry a knife/knives on your fishing trips?
I do – a few of them actually. The first that I carry is a Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops Automatic Tanto. This one is almost always either on my belt or attached to my wader straps and serves as my survival knife. It’s quick to deploy so I feel pretty confident that I will give any threat a good fight at the very least.
In addition to the scenarios I mentioned earlier, I heard a story a few years ago about a guy who was wading in some river, lost his footing and was swept downstream by the current. His waders ended up getting snagged by an underwater branch and once this happened, they ended up serving as a parachute of sorts by catching the current and making it difficult to free himself. Ultimately, he lost the fight and perished as a result. I can’t help but think that if the guy had a knife that was easily accessible and simple to deploy, he could have cut the straps on his waders and survived the ordeal.
The second knife I carry is a Gerber Flik multi-tool which resides in my chest/waist pack. I like this knife because it has all sorts of useful blades and tools. I have used this thing for all sorts of scenarios like tightening a loose reel handle, opening some over engineered packaging and swapping a prop in the middle of a river.
The third knife I carry is just a no-name single blade knife to serve as a backup.
What types of knives are best when fishing? What qualities do you look for (size, folding vs. fixed, blade type, etc.)?
This depends on the purpose really. For my survival knife, I want it to be a folding blade that is very fast to deploy. The deployment factor isn’t too important for me on the multi tool, but both have to feel solid in my hand with a bit of weight. I don’t want some garbage knife that feels like it might break if I use it for anything other than decoration.
Aside from that, my only other real requirement is that it doesn’t open unless I open it. I had one knife that had a poor lock system that would open by itself in my pocket or pack. After cutting myself on the blade when I reached into my pack, I ended up throwing the thing away and paying more attention to the blade locks.
What advice would you give someone looking to get a solid fishing knife?
Think about the conditions you will use this knife in and use that as a guide to the right one for you. As an example, if you only fish the pond in your subdivision then a knife like my S&W might be a bit of overkill for you but a good multi tool could a great option. Another example would be if you do a lot of extremely cold weather fishing, a composite handle is probably not the best idea.
Also, keep in mind that you are probably going to lose a knife or two to the depths of whatever body of water you are fishing. With that said, I really don’t recommend bringing a knife that is extremely expensive or holds a lot of sentimental value. It would really suck to lose that knife your grandfather gave you that he made himself with custom inlays in the handle.
Which reminds me…make sure the knife can handle water because it WILL get wet – you are fishing, you know.
For more stories and wisdom on fishing and life, read more at Nick’s blog the Brookfield Angler.