View Full Version : Beware

David Knapp
11-05-2007, 01:02 AM
This weekend on the Hiwassee, I had a profound and potentially life-changing experience while fishing. First, I discovered firsthand the danger of fishing subsurface. Then, as if to reinforce the lesson learned, I stumbled across some risers that were delicately sipping something microscopic on the surface. Of course, that in itself is not unusual, but the fact that I decided to tie on a small dry and then had success with it was very unusual.

I'm sure you're wondering at this point what in the world I'm talking about. Understanding that I love fishing subsurface flies, you are probably doubting my sanity. It would all make sense though if you were able to see my tooth. That's right, I chipped off the entire top of my tooth.

For as long as I've been fishing nymphs, I pinch on my weight by using the good old set of chompers in my mouth. There was always the vague unease created by knowing that something bad could result, but I always shrugged it off and gnawed on yet another split shot. Yesterday, the routine was rudely interrupted (and just after I had caught a nice 13 inch brown no less) by a frightening crunching noise coming from somewhere under my nose and above my chin. I didn't feel any pain though and began to think that my teeth were so powerful that they had shredded the small split shot. When I examined the weight and saw that it was in perfect condition, the light came on and I was horrified to feel rough edges on a formerly perfect tooth. Subdued, I managed to pinch on the weight with my pliers and continued fishing. I finally moved upriver above the powerhouse to look for the risers that I was sure would be there.

Sure enough, there were several fish working the pools immediately above the powerhouse and I soon had a rainbow and a smallmouth to hand, still using subsurface flies. Knowing things could be much better, I decided to try a small zelon midge that I had tied several weeks ago. I diligently took out the 6x and tied on a generous piece and finally attached the small midge. Moving upstream in stealth mode, I spotted a rise on the other side of the stream just behind a rock. Two casts later, I dropped the small dry just upstream of the fish and had the satisfaction of watching the fish inhale the fly. Suddenly, everything seemed right. This was how fly fishing was meant to be. Nervously I pondered how this might affect my future fishing as I envisioned myself fishing dries upstream and to rising fish only. Then I realized, it wasn't the time for that kind of thought, I needed to just savor the moment. There would be plenty of time later for constructing my own philosophy as it pertained to fly fishing and its methods.

Now, as I look back on that short time fishing, I am forced to wonder if perhaps I'm on the brink of a new phase in my fly fishing. I know deep down that I'll never completely give up on fishing subsurface. If it brings more enjoyment, I might focus on fishing dries more for awhile. One thing is certain and that is that I will not be chewing on any split shot for a long time to come. I'll probably be visiting the dentist to remedy the problems that have already occurred...

Oh yeah, the fish are still biting on the HI...the water temp is coming down and that should only improve the fishing. Caught two browns, one of which was around 13", a few stocker 'bows and one smallie! A few decent sized caddis were showing along with some micro caddis and the usual midges. I also saw a few tiny mayflies... Not as productive as my last trip there but still a nice time on the water!

11-05-2007, 02:22 AM
"I might focus on fishing dries more for awhile."

I knew you'd see the light sooner or later! just kidding. sorry about your tooth, at least it didn't hurt.

zelon midge? it wasn't my "trout lake midge" was it? let me know next time you slip off to the HI. if i can get away from my schooling, I'd love to go.

11-05-2007, 01:00 PM

As I read your post, I instinctively began to rub the back of one of my teeth (incisor?). Several years ago, I was missing my snips, so I used my teeth to snip off the tag end of some tippet. I didn't have the crunching sound, but I felt something gritty in my mouth. Upon closer inspection, I broke off the very top, back part of one of my front teeth. Later, my dentist frowned at me and lectured me on the strength to weight ratio of monafilament. But, it was so small, he didn't recommend a cap.

Since then, I've used my side teeth to clamp on split shot, assuming that the teeth were stronger and the split shot was moldable. Now, I'm forced to re-evaluate all my dental hygiene. Maybe, a shot of flouride a day will strengthen me up??


11-05-2007, 02:54 PM
Sorry to hear! Did you save the tooth for possible re-installation? Sounds like you were having a good day, otherwise! I almost headed to the HI but, there are just so many things that need to be done around the house....

best ones!


11-05-2007, 03:51 PM
A note about fishing tiny dries: I can only imagine that it would suck (best word i could think of) to chip your tooth on splitshot, but I have pierced my ear many times w/ little BWO dries..all on the SoHo actually. Bad vibes? Eh...
So keep that in mind before you switch over to the purity of "dry fly only".

David Knapp
11-05-2007, 06:24 PM
So keep that in mind before you switch over to the purity of "dry fly only".

MTN_TRT, thanks for the hope! Maybe I won't have to stop fishing nymphs quite yet...now that I know the dangers of the dry, I'll not be so quick to tie them on too often...

Byron Begley
11-05-2007, 06:43 PM

We sell two things you need to buy and they are cheap, forceps and nippers. I broke a tooth one time and my dentist made enough money from that to go on a fishing trip to Montana. And that is exactly what he did.


Elk riverrat
11-05-2007, 07:53 PM
I have good insurance and still have to pay near $500 for a crown, ever time you see that tooth, think of the rod or reel you could have had.

11-06-2007, 11:39 PM
Plateau Angler, I loved that story. My dentist while I was growing up used to gripe at me for biting through monofilament (at the request of my father). Now that he is retired (80) he and my dad have been fly fishing buddies for years. My youngest son was fishing with them one week this summer and he told my son the story about me biting monofilament. My son later caught him biting off tippet. He didn't say anything. I guess he is smarter than his dad.

David Knapp
11-07-2007, 12:15 AM
txtbrown, its funny you talk about biting monofilament... My grandma enjoys telling me about a dentist she once had that claimed he could always tell if a someone was a seamstress or a fisherman... That pretty well cured me from biting my tippet material, but unfortunately she never told me any stories about biting metal....:biggrin:

11-07-2007, 02:13 AM
uhh, I've bit mono for years. is there something wrong with it?

11-07-2007, 02:21 AM
Me too...and at times some pretty thick stuff (30lb test)...and, I've done the crimp thing with the choppers, too.

11-07-2007, 08:51 AM
Is it even safe to put lead in your mouth? I don't know? Maybe try the non lead substitute if you're a biter. Also, as you get older those pearly whites break, chip and loosen from the gums. Mid-life dental work is unpleasant. Admittedly, opening a beer bottle with your teeth brings shouts from an unruly crowd. It's ugly:eek: when it doesn't work.

11-09-2007, 03:16 PM
I remember watching a fishing show a few years ago in which some pro fisherman (ironic I know) used his teeth to bite down on some sort of tackle. The other pro in the boat with him was like "Hey don't do that you dodo!" and proceeded to give a lecture about why its easy to break teeth doing it.

Apparently its not so much the strength of what you are biting on (unless its metal or extremely hard of course) but its what happens when your teeth finally cut through. Once your teeth cut whatever it is, you hear a quick little "snap" sound. Basically that is your teeth slamming into each other at light speed. The gap is only as big as the monofilament, but its enough to make a fracture in your tooth. Also keep in mind how much pressure you put on that line when you bite on it.

So its really unwise to bite on anything other than food (even that can do it...animal bones, nuts, candy, etc).