I recently helped a friend get a long wire up into some trees. I used my preferred method of a golf ball with a screw eye only this time I had the luxury of a 12ft carp rod with 20lb braid
I certainly don’t want to lose my multitool, but I think you can minimize the risk with a bit of technique. I have been using a proper arborist’s throw bag and slick line for many years to get my antennas and other things up into the trees and I have learned a few things. Rarely have I had an issue with the line wrapping around a branch when throwing a bag. It is far more likely to happen when pulling the bag back through the branches for another throw and only when pulling the bag back too quickly.
From my casual observations, in order for the the throw bag to wrap around a branch when throwing, it must still have sufficient velocity and the line must be taut causing the bag to change course and get rid of the energy. If the line is loose, the throw bag will simply continue on its trajectory until gravity takes over. Hanging an antenna for an activation is a more simple exercise involving a lower branch but these tips still applies to trying to get a line high up in a tree. Keep in mind that I am typically working with hardwood trees with a more open understory on an activation.
Don’t overthrow - I want gravity to take over as soon as the throw bag clears the branch that is my target. If I miss the branch it will fall to the ground or a lower branch for easy retrieval. Since I am dealing with shorter heights and a fixed length of line, I will often avoid pulling the bag back through the trees for another throw if there are a lot of branches and just let it drop to the ground and pull the line from the other side. If you are pulling a throw bag back through the branches, go very slow as the bag approaches a branch. That is when the bag will typically start to swing like a pendulum and gets wrapped around a branch.
Have plenty of loose line - I use around 40-50’ of slick throw line for my bear bag/SOTA needs with a small s-biner on each end. As I mentioned before, it is important for the line to not get taut before gravity takes overs so make sure that the line can spool out easily. I clip the s-biner on the near-end of the line to one of my belt loops. I learned this tip after watching far too many perfect throws end with the rest of the line following the throw bag over the branch!
I would say that my biggest issue when using a throw bag is not settling for my first throw and instead trying repeatedly to get the line over that ‘perfect’ branch. Maybe using a pendulum swing for my throw helps me create a better trajectory, but I have a bad shoulder and throw like a sissy anyway so it is my only real option. YMMV and all other disclaimers applied but unless I know that the summit will require a mast, I am happy with the throw bag and line.
73, pat - ki4svm
For most activations, use 1/8" neon orange or yellow arborist throw line, with 14 oz. shaped weight.
Both are pricey, but work well; cheap substitutes yield frustration.
Bag is a mini-throw line holder, about 6" in diameter and 8" high; holds 150 ft. of line, which will do fine for 50-ft. trees, with extra line to adjust for distance between trees, etc…
Use reverse toss; with some practice, your accuracy will amaze you. See pix, and zoom in to see the orange line.
Yesterday, I just tied the wifes water bottle onto the end of my string, and tossed it over the branch that was just above head height.
Pity about the water bottle detaching itself from the string and disappearing into a kiekie thicket, where it will remain hidden for ever, even though it was only about 1 metre away.
tldr: someone elses water bottle is best
Perhaps in future, I should tie a fixed loop of string properly around the bottle neck before I start, and then tie the antenna string to that instead of the half-arsed fail I do every time.
Whenever there are trees in my activation zone (and usually there are), I use a 80g fishing weight (sinker) bound to a light red mason’s cord (see picture). It fits very well in my backpack and I do not need to carry a bulky +300g pole with me. 80g are a good compromise in terms of weight and is usually sufficient that the sinker gets down to the ground.
I always toss the weight with one arm from below and usually reach heights of around 8 - 10 metres (26 - 32 ft). This height is sufficent to make contacts. After completing the activation, I take down the cord from the sinker side so that the loose end goes over the branch. This avoids that the sinker weight wraps around a branch.
At the beginning, I also tried a slingshot, but I realised it is not really necessary and only adds additional weight to the backpack. I try to be as light-weight as possible on my trips.