AN ELEGANT SOLUTION
TO AN AGE OLD PROBLEM
© Bob Friedhoffer, 2006
In 340 CE, Pappus
of Alexandria quoted Archimedes thusly, "Give me but one firm spot on
which to stand, and I will move the earth." He was of course referring to the lever. A 1st class lever can be used to multiply the
input force or distance moved. A 3rd
class lever is generally used to increase distance moved.
people who fly fish have had the problem of landing a fish wiggling at the end
of their rod. In the first edition
(1653) of Izaak Walton’s The Compleat
Angler, the author wrote of the difficulty of
landing a trout single handedly. Piscatore,
the main character in the book, states in chapter II,
“But what say you
now? there is a Trout now, and a good
one too, if I can but hold him; and two or three turns more will tire him: Now
you see he lies still, and the sleight is to land him: Reach me that Landing
And again in chapter IV,
“I now see it is a
Trout; I pray put that net under him, and touch not my line, for if you do,
then wee break all. Well done, Scholer, I thank you. Now for an other. Trust
me, I have another bite: Come Scholer, come lay down your Rod, and help me to
land this as you did the other. So, now we shall be sure to have a good dish of
fish for supper.”
Three hundred and
fifty plus years later the modern angler has the same problem. Once one who has hooked a fish how can the
fish be landed single handedly? In
effect the pole, string, fish combination is a pendulum with a chaotically
moving bob, attached to a thin, flexible, 3rd class lever.
If you are fishing
with a guide or friend, it’s easy to say, “Help me.” What can one do if a fishing partner is too
far away to help quickly or worse, nonexistent?
Up until now one has had to dangle the fish overhead at the end of the
rod and try to net it with the other hand. What does look like on when we do
it? With music added it might make an
interesting segment for America’s
Funniest Home Videos.
“The Wizard of Wall Street, Ace Greenberg, a
seasoned fisherman, inveterate problem solver and inventor, has always found
this to be a vexing problem. After years
of thought and reflection he has invented a couple of answers to the problem.
The first is OK, the second one a remarkably simple, elegant solution. After this innovation, we might just have to
start calling him the Archimedes of Angling.
His first idea was
to put an extension on the end of his net.
He attached a piece of broom handle, to the handle of the net, with a
bolt and wing nut. The wing nut/bolt
combination allowed him to fold the handle out of the way while trekking to his
favorite streams. After selecting his
spot along the stream bed, he would extend the handle to its full length. This helped a bit when netting the catch by
extending his reach, but not enough. His
experimentation for an easier method continued.
When used in the
normal manner a fishing rod is a 3rd class lever. A 3rd class lever has the fulcrum
at one end, the resistance at the other end and the force applied in someplace
between the two. The distance the
resistance moves is greater than the distance the force moves. This type of lever is wonderfully adapted for
casting a fly into the middle of a stream. Imagine
what your accuracy would be and what your arm would feel like if you had to
throw the fly into a stream by hand.
Though the 3rd class lever is great for casting accurately at
a distance (with practice) it is not the most efficient lever for landing a
fish. The moments of force (effective
weight) on the end of the fly rod and the extended lever arm, along with a
gyrating fish at the end of the string (a chaotic pendulum) make this type of
lever less efficient and useful than one might wish for when netting a catch.
Greenberg has hit
upon is an ingenious use of the principles of leverage to solve the problem of
landing a fish when alone. He has found
a way to easily turn the 3rd class lever into a 1st class
lever. A first class lever has the fulcrum
between the force and resistance. Think of a seesaw.