Choosing and Preparing a Throwbag
'What is the sound of one hand tied behind your back?'
(ancient pessimists proverb).
'The choice and preparation of your throwbag is crucial to successful use.'
(ancient optimists proverb).
Here are a few of thoughts on choosing and preparing your throwbag.
Tip 1 - Sometimes Length Matters
A bulky 25m throw bag becomes a small throw bag if you take out some rope before throwing! A 15m rope will stay 15m and a rope is not just for throwing!
Tip 2 - Forget How It Looks - Make Sure It Works
A throwbag is easy to re-pack in the warmth of a shop - with cold, wet hands, darkness approaching with 2k of river left to do, you need the easiest bag to pack.
Look for a long, wide and stiff neck to the bag (which is also great for getting a good grip on when throwing).
Tip 3 - Nothing Should Get Snagged
If your bag comes with a handle at the rescuers end of the line (as opposed to the bag end) - get rid of it.
You are looking for a 'clean line' and bag - this means as few entrapment hazards as possible.
Tip 4 - Its Not A Place To Put Your Hand
Empty the rope out of the bag and check the main knot is tied by someone who realises how important that knot is! If there is one of those pointless bits of clear tube on the 'handle' of the bag end of the bag, get rid of it (what does it do anyway?) . That should help ensure the loop is as small as possible. Remember if you can fit your hand in it - it is a major entrapment hazard. This is not meant to be a handle, simply a place to clip a crab so reduce the size of the loop to a minimum.
Tip 5 - Get Knotted
Empty the rope out of the bag and tie an overhand (or fig of 8) loop, about 6 inches from the main knot in the bag, so that the top of the loop is just below the level of the neck of the bag. Now take a deep breath and cut the main body of the rope from the loop you tied (cut with a hot knife or seal afterwards). Some throwbags like the new palm equipment bags come with this having been done already with a piece of sling instead of floating rope.
Re-tie the main body of rope to the loop you created with a rethreaded figure of 8, or round turn and umpteen half hitches or bowline and stopper knot.
Why do all this? - So that you can easily untie the bag from the rope and you will always have a clean line in those frantic real-life moments!
Tip 6 - Measure And Mark
Use a black indelible marker pen and mark off 5m intervals on your rope so you know exactly how much rope is in/out of your bag. i.e. 1 ring = 5m, 2 rings = 10m.
Tip 7 - Throwbag belts
Recently on the market over the last few years there are utility belts for throwbags which safely stow a throwbags around your waist on a quick release harness. These can be a great way to carry your throwline hands free safely while scouting/portaging rapids but are a hassle to paddle with on so ill put it on when I need my hands free!