Tackle and Tactics.
THINK LIKE A FISH Part 44 Braided Lines.
One of the commonest questions I am asked by correspondents is about suitable line to use for lure fishing. On a number of occasions I have mentioned the fact that I now use braid exclusively for spinning, both in the sea and in freshwaters. However, one or two recent problems experienced when I changed to a new reel prompted me to write this piece.
Perhaps first I should mention the pros and cons of using monofilament or braid. For years I lure fished for bass using eight pound nylon. It was totally satisfactory. I lost very few fish and landed many big ones. Provided I used good quality monofilament (originally Racine Tortue and later Maxima) it cast well, did not tangle, was hard wearing and dealt perfectly adequately with the rigours of playing and landing fish. It also had the advantage of being easily cut with scissors and it could be soundly knotted with a half blood knot. It is pretty difficult to see in the water. Nylon has a fair amount of stretch which is an extra buffer when a fish (or me) yanks hard on the line. The stretch is a bit of a downer when trying to hook fish and a firm strike is often needed. Also, the stretch makes the line a bit less sensitive when it comes to transmitting gentle plucking bites to the rod tip (and the angler). A third disadvantage is that eight pound line is a bit light for pulling free from heavy snags (kelp, knotted wrack etc.) and when pulling for a break is liable to catapult the lure back at the angler like a bullet - so care is required. Decent monofilament is STILL PERFECTLY SUITABLE for bass spinning.
I am currently using thirty pound Whiplash braid for bassing and six pound Fireline for perch chub, trout etc. I have also used fourteen and twenty pound Fireline for bass, wrasse, pike and tropical predators. Braided lines are MUCH thinner and stronger than nylon and have virtually zero stretch so for casting, detecting bites, hooking fish (almost essential when using popping and sliding lures which are often taken when at rest) and pulling free from snags they win hands down. They are, however, opaque and very visible (compensated by the thinness and, if you want, by putting a metre or so of nylon at the business end of the line). The rod and clutch have to be your buffer against a jagging fish. The line consists of many strands so hook points can, on occasion, penetrate the braid and worst of all, because the lines are so thin and flexible, they are more inclined to knot than nylon is (particularly , I think, when casting into a strong wind). If you notice the knot straight away it is often possible to retrieve softly so as not to tighten the tangle and by judicious picking to unravel it. However, should the knot pull tight it's goodbye to a length of expensive braid.
To return to my recent problem. The new reel has a smaller spool and faster retrieve than my old Baitrunners. My first job was to transfer the Whiplash from the old spools to the new ones. First trip out - DISASTER! Using a Skitterpop I had no less than four tangles in a session, two of which were cut off jobs losing me a total of about ten metres of line - the air was blue. Touch wood there have been no further problems since then and I concluded that it was not a feature of the reeI (which is a relief) but I had simply overfilled the spools.
Having said this I have certainly changed the way that I handle my gear since beginning to use braid. The changes have now become so automatic that I never even think about it but last weekend Steve Pitts and I were fishing together when he mentioned that he was doing exactly the same as me. It is essential to avoid loops on the spool when you are casting so glance at the reel for loops over the edge of the spool BEFORE YOU ENGAGE THE BALE ARM. Secondly, GIVE THE LINE A PULL TO STRAIGHTEN IT ON THE SPOOL before you begin the retrieve. Lastly, KEEP THE LINE TIGHT ON THE RETRIEVE. Despite these changes I would not go back to nylon again for plugging and popping.
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
Think like a fish.
Baitrunner with Fireline
Baitrunner with Whiplash.
An eighteen pounder.
Stradic with Whiplash.