Catching up on questions, answers

May 29, 2013 

This column tends to generate a lot of emails. Although I try to answer them all, admittedly, I don’t do as good a job as I should of incorporating them into my weekly articles.

After all, if someone has a question about something related to the outdoors, there’s a pretty good chance that others are out there wondering the very same thing.

I’ve never claimed expert status, nor am I a walking encyclopedia of the outdoor world. What I do have is a fairly good working knowledge of the subjects along with a built-in love for anything and everything outdoors related.

So my ears perk up when someone begins to talk about their own experiences in the outdoors or the lessons that they’ve learned in the woods or on the water and I often place those lessons way back in my mind with my own memories.

So this week, I’ll do as I’ve done several times in the past and toss out answers to a couple of the more popular queries that I’ve received over the last year.

Because I’ve written of my hunting adventures with my daughter, Maggie, I tend to get emails relating to youngsters. One that has come up plenty of times goes something like this:

“My son/daughter wants to learn to shoot a bow. Do you have any suggestions on where to start?”

Learning to shoot a bow properly from the start will go a long way towards determining whether or not they’ll stick with it. If they’re having fun, they’ll keep at it. If they can’t hit the broad side of a barn, they likely won’t.

Having fun also has a lot to do with how quickly they’re finding that success, since kids aren’t usually overloaded with patience, and the first hindrance to it is probably encountered when using bad equipment.

If you have any ideas of getting your child some sort of toy bow you might as well not waste your time. Toys are meant for playing with and in no way provide them with the proper tool for learning this sport which can offer them a lifetime of enjoyment.

Take your child to the nearest archery pro shop and have a talk with the folks working there. They’ll help to determine the proper fitment for your budding archer and offer up a number of suggestions on what equipment will suit them best.

Since, as I pointed out, these are not toys, don’t expect to pay a toy’s price. Whether you are looking at a youth model bow or something like the PSE Dream Season DNA that I’m shooting, it’s all serious equipment.

But you don’t want to spend your money on something that your child will quickly outgrow. My best recommendation would be to take a look at either PSE’s Mini Burner or Chaos models.

Both of these are high-performance bows that are also highly adjustable so that your child can grow with it and not out of it. Your dealer can help determine which of these models best suits your situation.

In a “Ready to Shoot” package, which comes equipped with everything they’ll need except a release and arrows, the Mini Burner retails for $279.99 while the Chaos AD carries an MSRP of $379.99. These bows in bare form, without all of the accessories, run $199.99 and $299.99, respectively, but you’ll spend more than the “Ready to Shoot” price if purchasing every piece individually.

Once your child is equipped with a bow you’ll want to get them started off on the right foot. Many, if not most, shops offer lessons but in the very least find someone whom you know is a good archer that is willing to work with them. By incorporating this little bit of training with the right equipment you’ll be amazed to see how quickly they will pick it up and be shooting bull’s eyes in the back yard.

I’ve received this next one several times just recently as we’ve approached the summer season when the fishing population tends to explode.

“What’s better — braided line or monofilament?”

The answer to that is both.

Despite all of the marketing hype that has surrounded the braided lines for the better part of the past 15 years, the old stand-by mono is still a great choice for most fishing situations. It’s fairly inexpensive in comparison, offers good knot strength, casts well and features a bit of stretch which can, at times, be a big plus.

On the down side, mono lines degrade over time due to heavy usage and exposure to ultraviolet light, which is impossible to escape unless you’re only fishing at night. The stretch that I mentioned earlier also lessens your hook setting power to a degree but that’s not as big an issue for the recreational angler as the marketers pushing the braids would have you believe.

Braided lines excel in more specific situations. Yes, it’s far more expensive than monofilament but also far outperforms it in several ways such as when bottom fishing in deeper water. Because it has no stretch at all, braids offer a near instant hook set on those deep down fish plus the sensitivity is so great that you’ll almost always feel even the slightest nibble.

Since its strength to diameter ratio is so much greater than monofilaments — a 40- or 50-pound test braid will have the same diameter as about a 12-pound test mono — fishermen can pack more line on the spool when staying with the same breaking strength they’re used to fishing. Even when jumping up a line class or two in breaking strength they’ll still increase the line capacity substantially.

The biggest con that is heard against braided lines comes from those fishing with bait casters. Backlashes can be a major problem.

With braids, the dreaded “bird nest” can be so hard to get out that many whom have tried just give up altogether and opt to re-spool, a rather expensive option. The problem here lies in the braid’s tiny diameter and tendency to bury itself on the spool under other strands of the material.

Even when not caused by a backlash, they’ll sometimes bury themselves in this manner just when setting the hook and you’ll likely end up with a mess on the very next cast.

The last thing to consider before opting for braid is just where you’ll be fishing. Are there lots of snags and obstructions under the surface? If so you’ll want to keep in mind that trying to break a braided line is about like trying to snap a steel bar with your bare hands. It’s extremely tough material and lesser quality equipment will likely let go before the line does!

Have questions of your own? Drop me an email and I’ll do my best to cover it in a future piece here.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at or follow on Twitter- @BHarveyOutdoors

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