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"The Bottom Line on Fishing Line"

One of the most common questions I get asked is what type of line I use.  That isnít a question that can be easily answered, unless you have some time to chat.  There are many factors to look at when selecting a fishing line including the species of fish, the type of rod and reel you use and the water you plan to fish.  Trends in fishing line change over the years, and new technology is always improving the quality.  But the line still remains the most vulnerable link between you and the fish.

Braided Lines Ė
When I started to fish about 35 years ago the only line we used was Braided Dacron.  Braided Dacron wasnít wound very tight which allowed it to carry a lot of water back to the reel and was known for its poor knot strength and its low stretch. Now we have the Super Braids, like Power Pro, which are tightly wound, have a high abrasion resistance, unbelievable sensitivity, no stretch and diameter to strength ratio that is unmatched.  Most of the Braids today use a synthetic fiber called Spectra Fiberģ that is stronger than steel. 

There are only a couple draw backs to this line. You must use a Palomar knot to tie on lures or the line will slip and come untied. Some guys will Super-Glue the knot to prevent it from coming untied.  Also braid is nearly impossible to break off when you want to if you get hung up on something.   I also don't recommend you use this line on a spinning reel, it just doesnít work well. With a spinning reel, it tends to tangle coming off the reel due to its limp features.  If you find yourself getting a lot of backlashes with braid using a bait casting reel, you probably just need more practice with your reel, rather than blaming it on the line.

I like to fish braid in several different situations for bass. First is my most common way of fishing these days, using the Brovarney Swim Jig. I always throw my jigs on braid 100% of the time.  It allows me to make longer casts; it is easier to pop the grass off and gives me solid hook ups. Second is flipping in pads. Braid will get a fish turned around faster out of the pads and in the boat. Third would have to be frog fishing, there just isnít another choice.  Obviously, braided line is useful in any situation where there is thick cover or slop, or where there is a lot of debris or structure in the water which would scrape up your line causing it to break off when you set the hook.

There are many different brands of braided line.  I prefer Power Pro line by Innovative Textiles, because it is rounder so it less apt to burying into your spool and the coating on it makes it smoother for longer casts. It really is superior to other brands.  I have also started experimenting with Suffix Braid, which seems to be almost as good as well.

Fluorocarbon Ė
Fluorocarbon is made from polymer of fluorine bonded to carbon and has several advantages over other lines. A true 100% Fluorocarbon, like Triple Fish Fluorocarbon , is crystal clear and is invisible under water because it has nearly the same light refractivity as water.  Fluorocarbon has a higher density, which adds line weight and creates a smoother surface, which means it will cast better and has 20% less stretch.  Yet the line is very supple which makes it easier to tie knots and it has little to no memory at all.  Of coarse memory is a problem because it affects sensitivity and castability, and causes more tangles.

Fluorocarbon has replaced mono for the most part for me and many other tournament anglers.  Itís the best all around line that can be used in a wide variety of situations.  I have it on both my spinning reels and some of my bait casters.  I love to pitch tubes around wood and grass using Fluorocarbon because of its sensitivity and abrasion resistance. Itís invisible underwater which makes it awesome in clear water.  If you like to Drop Shot, Carolina Rig or fish any other finesse techniques than you need to be using Fluorocarbon.  Most people use fluorocarbon for spinnerbaits, although I often use braid for them as well.  Of todayís swim jig anglers, about half use braid and half use fluorocarbon.

My favorite brand of fluorocarbon is Triple Fish, because it is an excellent quality line at a great price.  Seaguar line is also excellent, but pricier.  Some other popular brands with tournament anglers are P-Line, Berkley Vanish, and Yo-Zuri.  Some people say knots come undone more often with fluorocarbon, but I have not found that to be a problem using a good quality line.

Mofilament and Co-Polymers Ė 
Nylon Monofilament is formed through an extrusion process which forces molten plastic through a die creating a single strand of line.  Different grades of Mono are created by changing the formulas of plastics which makes some lines softer and some tougher. The different chemical formulas used and the quality control processes used are why the costs very on some lines.  Co-Polymers are similar to Mono except they are not a single strand, they actually have an inner core with an outer wrap of nylon to help lessen stretch and increase wear resistance. 

Monofilament is a fine choice for the casual fisherman because it is versatile and inexpensive.  But for the serious tournament angler, it is not always reliable enough and requires high maintenance. My primary reason for not using mono very much is that it has a higher degree of stretch to the line, which I believe can affect the hook set.  About the only time I use mono these days is when I am fishing some top water baits.  Mono is the only line that floats which helps a lot when working a popper or a spook.

Line Maintenance-
With braided line, I re-spool my reels about every three months. Some people choose to extend the life of their braided line by re-spooling it back on backwards, so that the used line is deep in the spool, and the line you are casting was never used.  With Mono I re-spool at every tournament, and about every three tournaments for fluorocarbon.  I also check frequently for any frays in the line while I am fishing a tournament no matter what line it is.  If there is any nick in the line, I immediately re-tie it.  Mono gets nicks most easily, braid least often.  I always re-tie all my lures the night before a tournament, as well as throughout the day on the water.  The bottom line to using any fishing line is proper maintenance, using the right line for the situation and using good quality.  The time and money you might save by cutting corners wonít be worth it when you lose that money- winning fish in a tournament.