WILTZ: Dependence on technology has gone too far for this angler

We are going to talk about some "outdoor" shopping today. A few years ago I opened a can of worms when I asked, "What is the better buy--One $100 reel or two $50 reels?" The question inspired much reader interest. Both sides have good arguments, ...

We are going to talk about some "outdoor" shopping today. A few years ago I opened a can of worms when I asked, "What is the better buy-One $100 reel or two $50 reels?" The question inspired much reader interest. Both sides have good arguments, and the question was never satisfactorily answered-at least by me.

I tend to use open-face reels, and I offered that I had good luck with the Cabela's "Prodigy" line-a reel that was more costly than the $40-$50 norm. I've never spent close to $100 for a rod or reel, although I considered a Shimano "Calcutta" baitcasting reel after using one on a guided Minnesota musky expedition. That reel was almost backlash proof.

I would guess that if I fished for species that abused tackle, fish that made long powerful runs that literally burned the drag, I'd learn quickly that inexpensive reels can't handle it. These fish would primarily be salt water species like tarpon, cobia, wahoo, sharks or tuna. South Dakota is a long way from the ocean.

Last spring, while browsing around in Cabela's, I picked up a rod-reel combination package. I liked the feel of the Tourney Trail rod with a Pflueger President reel. I would supposedly save $30 by buying it as a combination, so I forked over my $99.98. I enjoyed using the rig this spring on smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleyes and an occasional northern pike-until disaster struck. While making a retrieve, I noticed that the crank was beginning to bind up. I then discovered, too late, that I had been winding line under the spool.

I removed the spool from the reel, and soon discovered that bushings, washers and a gear were on the floor of the boat. In what order did those pieces go back on the shaft? Did I find all the hardware? I had no idea. Fortunately I had a backup rig with me.


Now for the main point of today's column. I will never buy a combination package again. I want my reel to come in a box. I want an extra spool in that box, and I want a schematic drawing of my reel with a parts list. What did I get? Under a cardboard price tag that was stapled to my rod, there was a single sheet of folded paper called an "owner's manual." It said that if I wanted to see an exploded drawing of my reel, I should go to . I felt like telling them where to go!

There is a happy ending to my story. I took my reel and washer collection to the Mitchell Cabela's store. In the fishing department, Adrian took a new President reel out of the box, removed the spool, looked over the washer configuration, and put my reel back together. He then made a copy of a schematic drawing for me. Adrian also added that the President model was proving to be a good reel. Thank-you Adrian!

In looking back in an effort to see if I was being unreasonable, I asked myself if I'm supposed to have a computer in the boat. Perhaps there was a computer in the boat. Tom, my son-in-law, had this phone with him that could store and take pictures. Perhaps he could have punched in and come up with the drawing I needed. Even if Tom could have, the Pflueger folks need to understand that not all of us carry smartphones.

I obviously have a problem with some of today's technology. When I was a kid, we spent the entire summer on a ball diamond. Today's ball diamonds are empty during the day. Too many kids have become computer game vegetables. Adults are just as bad. Not long ago we were guests for a Sunday dinner. After a splendid meal, everyone, myself excluded, sat around the living room in total silence, oblivious to their companions, as their fingers danced around on some hand-held screen. They had reduced themselves to technology captives. Are good people slowly losing communication skills?

When it comes to having places to hunt, I'm the luckiest guy in the world as farmer and rancher friends have been so kind over the years. I have access to heaven when it comes to deer, antelope, grouse and pheasants. Though a dollar value cannot be placed on kindness or friendship, a look at the value of recreational real estate gets my attention in a hurry.

What are South Dakota properties worth today? Earlier this week I received a beautifully illustrated LandLeader ( ) catalog in the mail that featured color photos of bull elk, trophy mule deer, pheasants and bighorn sheep. LandLeader sells recreational properties. In one listing, 320 acres of Brule County real estate listed at $1,920,000. That's $6,000 an acre!

This struck close to home as I've hunted in Brule County. I imagined a wooded draw that was home to mule deer and whitetails. The blue Missouri River shimmered in the background. Priceless!

South Dakota Game, Fish, & Parks has come up with a great idea with their life jacket loaner program. Area life jacket pickup stations include Chamberlain, Snake Creek, and North Point. While on the subject of Game, Fish, & Parks, the first deadline for the West River Rifle Deer Season is July 15. That's only nine days away.


See you next week.

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