Tackle and Tactics
What’s the best line for angling? This deceptively simple question is probably one of the most difficult to answer.
Some line manufacturers produce separate lines for coarse fishing, spinning and sea angling, and if you take a look at ‘saltwater’ monofilament lines you will generally find them to be coarser, shinier, springier, less supple and usually cheaper than most others. The implication of all this is that sea fish are in some way less sophisticated than other fish, that sea angling methods are somehow cruder and that saltwater fishing is likely to result in very heavy losses of line (probably also that sea anglers are poorer and/or meaner than their freshwater counterparts.
In practice, the requirements and needs of the saltwater angler are no different from those of the most demanding coarse angler, craftiest carper or fussiest trout man. The lines with the best attributes of strength, fineness, suppleness and transparency/invisibility will be best for EVERY FORM OF ANGLING.
Next time you decide to buy a spool of nylon ask yourself whether there is any merit in buying a cheap springy ‘sea line’. After all, the object of angling is to catch fish, not to drape the sea bed in a web of nylon threads!
Instead of automatically regarding your line as a disposable item think about how you can minimise contacts between tackle and snags by fishing with an alternative approach. Of course, any line with a tendency to be weak or unreliable when knotted is disastrous. Glint and flash are never likely to be assets and the only reason for using brightly coloured or tinted lines is if there is a need to make them highly visible to you (backing on fly reels is a good example of where this can be useful).
Of course in recent years things have changed quite a bit but the basic requirement is still reliability. Modern nylon monofilament is wonderful stuff – thin, flexible, easily knotted with almost no loss of strength and virtually invisible. It makes an effective fishing line for most approaches to the sport. For the freshwater fisherman, or fly angler it permits almost perfect presentation of tiny, practically weightless dressed or baited hooks. For the beach caster, by using a suitable shock leader it permits casts of well over 100 metres and presents minimal drag to the surf or longshore currents. Similarly, boat anglers are able to fish with relatively small amounts of lead at considerable depths even in quite strong flows. For many years my pals and I spun for bass with eight-pound Racine Tortue or Maxima and rarely lost a fish.
Why then have tackle manufacturers tried to introduce new types of fishing line? Firstly it was super strong Nylon monofilaments – considerably thinner than the general run. These were a bit on the stiff side and had low stretch but failed mainly because they were unreliable and inclined to break without warning. More recently fluorocarbon was the in thing. This seems (to me) to have similar properties to the strong Nylons but its main selling point is usually the fact that it has a refractive index virtually the same as water and may be less visible to the fish) than it’s predecessors. I tried it at first but again found it unreliable and never felt that it gave me much of an advantage. Perhaps the latest versions are better.
The really big innovation (at least as far as I am concerned) was the introduction of various braids, fused, coated or otherwise. I believe that these started off as something like the Kevlar used to make bullet proof vests. Braids are not ‘see through’ so you might think that this is a retrograde step. However, the fibres are so strong that thirty pound breaking strain is the equivalent of my old eight pound monofilament. Not only that but the line is much ‘softer’ and permits (if need be) longer casts. Perhaps the biggest advantage of braided lines is the almost total lack of stretch. This means that not only can you ‘feel’ every twitch and tap on the lure but a strike gives almost instant contact with the fish. The other good thing is that you (I) often manage to retrieve snagged lures that would have been lost on lighter nylon. This offsets the initial cost of the braid to some extent.
Of course there is a down side to this. Firstly braided lines are expensive. A spool full will cost you three or four times as much as its Nylon equivalent. Secondly and more critical, if braid tangles it can be a bugger to untangle.
I could go on at great length about fishing with decent line but the most convincing argument is the bite which you get while the bloke further along the beach swears as he tries to unravel his reel from a bunch of ‘Sea Fishing Special’.
If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - firstname.lastname@example.org