One of the challenges of wire antennas is getting them where we want them. Unless you are operating in the middle of the Mojave Desert natural antenna supports, otherwise known as trees are the traditional support mechanism. The age old challenge has been how to get the wire into the tree where you want it. Over the years all manner of devices have been used to accomplish this task. Lead fishing weights, tennis balls, and various other balls either thrown manually or launched pneumatically. Other means include sling shots, wrist rockets, and the trusty bow and arrow. All of these have their pros and cons. At my home QTH I’ve typically used a bow and arrow. I attach fishing line to the arrow and have one of my sons fire it into the tree where I’d like the line positioned. This method is very accurate and has typically worked well however the arrow usually travels a bit further than needed (I have plenty of room for overshoot) and even heavier fishing line is still kind of fine, making it difficult to see as you attempt to work the line through the tree.
With an increase in portable operations as of late I’ve been interested in a better way to get my wire antennas into trees. Carrying a bow and arrow and one of my sons along with me isn’t an option. I’d considered some of the sling shot\wrist rocket devices as well as some of the pneumatic ones but they are more than I want to haul along. As I was doing some research on the subject I came across throw bags. Arborists use them to place ropes into trees. Rock climbers use them as well. I watched a handful of videos and found the techniques that arborists use for throwing into and working the line through the tree very applicable to the problem of placing wire antennas. Here are few examples. There are a bunch of interesting videos on YouTube on the subject.
So where do you find such things? Amazon of course. A few clicks later the Weaver Leather Throw Weight and Line Kit was on its way. As a side note I’m not sure why it’s called “Leather” throw weight. There’s nary a trace of leather to be found. The bag is well made of heavy woven nylon and is filled with something reasonably dense (lead shot?) to give it a weight of 12 ounces. The throw bags I found vary in weight from 10 to 16 ounces. I chose the 12 ounce version figuring that 10 ounces was too light and 16 ounces was too heavy. When is the last time that you threw 12 ounces (three quarters of a pound)? 12 ounces is heavier than you may think. While it is quite hefty when it gets going physics does its job. I can neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not have bounced my throw bag off the side of one of my son’s trucks. The throw was a little over zealous. Didn’t even leave a mark. Not the result I would have obtained had I been using a lead fishing weight. Good thing that I didn’t get the 16 ounce version.
Along with the throw bag came the throw line. I’ve typically used heavier fishing line to start and used that to pull up some paracord or similar rope. As I’ve said before, fishing line, even the high viz stuff is very hard to see when it is way up in a tree making it very challenging to work it through the tree. The problem with paracord and similar ropes is that the sheathing is not very slick. It has just enough friction to create problems as you work a rope in a tree, hanging up right where you don’t want it. The rope that came with my throw bag is 150 feet of very light and very bright 1/8 inch polyethylene. It is light enough to travel along while attached to the throw bag and is very slick which allows it to slide down the tree easily and allows you to work it through a tree with no hang ups.
I’ve been experimenting with the various techniques for throwing the bag and working the line. They have been working very well. I’m very pleased with the results that I’ve been able to obtain. Two observations thus far, the line does indeed coil into a spaghetti mess if not handled as the videos suggest and don’t be to aggressive pulling the bag back once it’s up in a tree. Pull it slowly otherwise it will loop itself around a branch and you’ll be hard pressed to get it down as unlike fishing line you aren’t going to break the throw line.
If you are looking for an option for placing lines in trees for use with wire antennas I’d recommend considering the arborists throw bag, line, and associated techniques. They do this for a living and their equipment and methods work well.
To solve the problem of 150 feet of throw line turning into 150 feet of tangled spaghetti I purchased a throw line storage bag from Amazon. It fits all of the line, a pair of thin leather gloves (which make handling\throwing much easier on the hands), and the throw weight. I’ve found that sort of laying the line in hand over hand allows the line to smoothly flow out without a rat’s nest. It’s a nice, compact manner in which to transport the throw line.