In my last post, I talked about some solid foundations to successful throw bagging, but I am going to throw a few more top tips your way which will hopefully earn you the nickname ‘The Sniper’.
The art of packing
Packing your line sounds really simple, and it is! But there’s plenty of people out there that make a mess of it, and a messy line won’t deploy properly and may not reach your friend in their time of need. The best way is to hold the bag open in one hand and feed the rope over your shoulder down into the bag, occasionally compressing the rope into with your fist to make more room. Avoid grabbing handfuls of rope and stuffing it in, and I try to avoid stuffing coils in also, both of these methods risk the line knotting or getting tangled in the air.
Top tip – clip a karabiner onto your PFD shoulder strap and feed the rope through that. This makes for nice slick packing, no more balancing the line over your shoulder, and it also saves your gear from rope rub!
Tail in or out? Everyone has an opinion on this one, but I believe there is a right way. A common habit is for people to leave the tail of their rope sticking out from the neck of their bag, I mean why not? It makes it easy to find the end of your line. But what are the risks of doing this? Well, there is a very good chance that at some point that tail will get snagged and the contents of your bag dumped out either onto the bank or even worse into the river. This can put us in a number of nasty situations, so why risk it?
I’m a big fan of packing all the line in the bag, which eliminates the risk of the line getting snagged at any point. Worried about finding the end of your line? Fear not, most throwlines come with a taped end which clearly stands out, if yours doesn’t have this then duct tape or coloured electrical tape will do just fine. If that all sound’s too much then refer back to my previous post and grab a handful of rope, the end will be in there!
If you strongly disagree then let’s meet in the middle, keep that tail tucked in the neck!
How do you hold your bag?
There is no right or wrong to this one, it’s personal preference. Some people throw with a hold on the neck of the bag, some people throw whilst gripping the bag. Try both and find your favourite! I like to grip the bag like a rugby ball, I find this gives me maximum control and allows the bag to deploy efficiently. I personally find that throwing holding the neck can be less accurate and cause the bag to roll in the air and risk getting tangled.
How is your grip?
Rope burn sucks, and can be a pretty serious injury! Most people will grip the rope as you would in a tug of war, but our throwlines generally aren’t that thick so it’s easy for the line to slip through your hands, especially if you’re rescuing a friend who has a passion for pasties. The ‘thumbs up’ technique works really well to prevent this. It’s fairly simple and a great habit to get into! First, grip the rope in the conventional way then turn both hands up so it looks like you’re giving your swimmer a big thumbs up! This puts two kinks in the rope, so that friction becomes your friend (rope friction around a bend or edge is much higher) making it much less likely to slip through your hands.
Know your angles
Being aware of angles can make for some seriously smooth rescues! Here’s a common scenario … you’ve positioned yourself downstream and your friend has caught your line, success! As you pull them in the force of the water swings them toward the eddy downstream, so far so good. The issue now is that the angle you’re pulling them is probably pretty close to directly upstream, and they’re going nowhere fast.
We’ve already covered being dynamic and moving with the swimmer, so try this … as you move downstream and reach the eddy or bank that you plan to land them, pull them in at a right-angle to the current. This gets them moving in the right direction more quickly, and greatly reduces the forces on you and the swimmer (you’re no longer pulling against the flow).
Hopefully, these additional tips will help you become a throwbag ninja! Got any throwbagging tips that you we missed? Let me know – Eddy