Part Two

Throwline, when used correctly, assists in completing tree jobs quickly, but to gain the most advantage from this tool and use its capabilities completely, tree care professionals must employ a variety of techniques for the various trees and scenarios they are confronted with. Throwline manipulation refers to the various methods and techniques that may be used to acquire the desired tie-in point (TIP), even if the throw itself was not as accurate as desired. The three basic and simple methods discussed here are an excellent introduction to throwline manipulation, and can assist in obtaining the desired TIP, even after an errant throw.

Two-string technique: A useful technique in many situations, the two-string technique is probably one that, after having been learned, developed and refined, will be employed on a regular basis.

As implied by the name, a second string or throwline, along with a second throw weight to overcome the additional friction of the second string, are used to maneuver and manipulate the throwline into the desired tie-in point. With this technique, a user needs to be able to throw high into the canopy above their desired TIP, and then, having attached the second throwline and throw weight to the first, lift the second string and weight into the tree and use the second string to maneuver itself into the desired tie-in point.

Photos by Michael (House) Tain.
A throwline placed over an unusable branch, but with an excellent tie-in point (TIP) below.This is a perfect situation for the two-string technique. The second bag and string attached to the first one for use in the two-string technique.

Care should be taken to use a secure attachment knot properly backed up to tie the two throw weights together, as the movement of the rings during maneuver can cause some hitches to open and release. The attachment strap on the bottom of some throw bags may also be used to attach the second string and weight. The second string can be used to maneuver the throw weights laterally, thus allowing the user to swing the throwline around the trunk or leader if necessary.

An additional advantage of this technique is that even after the desired TIP has a throwline set in it, the user still has their original line high in the tree and can set additional throwlines with it if necessary using the same two-string technique. This technique will be of particular value to crews using the Big Shot to set their lines, as it is not uncommon to far overshoot the desired target, particularly when new to the Big Shot’s power and use.

Two-weight technique: The two-weight technique is probably one of the simplest throwline manipulation methods, but one that involves the risk of getting a throwline or throw weight stuck. The bags on either end of the throwline are simply used to maneuver it vertically or horizontally to the tie-in point. Swings may be generated by creating a pendulum motion up in the tree, or even by lowering the throw weight and giving it a push from the ground in the desired direction, and then attempting to maintain the swing as it is lifted up into the canopy.

If the throw is above the desired TIP, users may be able to pull the throw weight up and over, dropping it into the tie-in point. Alternatively, if the throw is below, flipping the bag up and over the branch into a higher one. This technique, once practiced, can be quite useful and efficient, but the risk of the throw weight and line becoming stuck due to quick and sudden movements is much greater than with other techniques, so it is best used judiciously with a measure of care and caution.

The first string (yellow) is used to maneuver and place the second string (orange) in the desired TIP with the two-string technique. The end result of a properly carried out two-string technique, one errant throw resulting in a line in the desired tie-in point.

Jump stick/weight: This technique is quite useful to move the throwline along a branch or leader in the horizontal plane, moving it past stubs and small branches, into the greater strength and security of the branch union with the trunk. If the climbing line has already been installed, the user can fairly easily throw bights up to move the line, or use a flip stick to maneuver it. Obviously, the smaller diameter and lighter weight throwline does not respond well to such methods, thus the use of a jump stick or throw weight. The throw bag or a small stick (5 to 8 inches in length) is attached to the throwline, usually midline, allowing the user to have both ends of the throwline in their hands. If using a stick, attach the throwline at both ends of the stick to keep it fairly straight, a clove hitch often works well for this application. The throw weight or stick is then pulled up to the branch the line is over, and while moving in the desired direction along the branch, the climber pulls the bag or stick rapidly back and forth across the top of the branch, causing it to jump and hop over obstacles as it moves along until reaching the desired tie-in point.

The three fairly basic and simple methods or techniques discussed here allow tree care professionals, in a sense, to make something out of nothing, by allowing them to obtain a good TIP even when their throw may not have been accurate. The two-string and two-weight technique are both particularly useful for arborists who consistently find themselves throwing up and beyond their desired target, while the jump stick/weight is helpful to those who often obtain the branch they desire, but are too far from the security of the branch attachment point for safety. These abilities, coupled with the basic principles of throwline storage and use, can help make a frustrating, and often neglected, tool become a valuable component of every climbing arborist’s skill set.

Michael (House) Tain is a contract climber, splicer, educator and writer associated with North American Training Solutions/Arbor Canada Training and Education, currently located in Lancaster, Ky.