Fish Like A Pro: Line Choice
When veteran tournament angler Cliff Pace packs his boat for a fishing trip to the shallow, weed-filled Louisiana Delta, at least a dozen of his 20 rods will be spooled with braided line, but when the Yamaha Pro heads to the clear, deep waters of Table Rock Lake in Missouri, he'll likely leave braid at home and use fluorocarbon instead.
The key to making line choices, emphasizes Pace, is studying lake conditions and the habitat bass are using, then picking a line type that fits that environment.
Bass fishing today has become very specialized because we have such a wide choice of tackle we can use," he explains, "and that includes lines. The three primary line categories we have are monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid, and for me there is a time and place for each.
"Ten years ago, monofilament was the universal fishing line, but today it has largely been replaced by fluorocarbon, and most bass pros now only use mono in specific conditions. That's a major change."
Pace is one who has made the change to fluorocarbon line, and admits he uses it for the majority of his fishing. Fluorocarbon's advantages over monofilament include far more sensitivity, less stretch, and increased abrasion resistance. Additionally, fluorocarbon line sinks so it does not have as much drag in the water, particularly for deep diving crankbaits, Pace's favorite lures.
"Because fluorocarbon has much less stretch than monofilament, I also changed my rods so I could use the line more effectively," adds the Yamaha Pro, "and this is something every angler should consider. You just don't need the stiffer rods we all used with monofilament.
"I have kept the same rod lengths, but switched to slightly softer and slower actions on both my casting and spinning rods. Instead of heavy action rods, for instance, I now use medium-heavy actions, and my rods don't have fast tips, either. Because fluorocarbon is so sensitive, I don't need a fast rod tip that was designed to provide sensitivity.
"With a slower, moderate tip and a softer overall action, I get a more parabolic bend, which is better for playing bass. A rod with a parabolic action flexes smoothly from its tip to the handle so I lose fewer fish."
The only time Pace uses monofilament line now is when he's topwater fishing, because monofilament floats on the surface and thus provides better lure action. For this, he still uses his original stiffer rods.
"The one exception I make to monofilament and topwater fishing is when I'm throwing a floating frog, because I fish frogs in extreme cover," continues the Yamaha Pro. "I use braided line, which I think is the most durable, sensitive, and certainly the strongest line available to bass fishermen. When I set the hook with braided line, I feel I'm in control."
Some anglers hesitate to use braid because they believe bass can see it more easily than fluorocarbon, but Pace doesn't think line visibility is an issue in the heavy cover environment he fishes. He believes the sticks, limbs, grass, roots, rocks, shadows, and contrasting light making up that cover all help disguise the line. When he's flipping, he frequently chooses 100 pound test braided line, not so much for its awesome strength but rather, because it will literally cut through vegetation and small limbs when he's playing a bass.
"Line choice is about putting more of the odds in your favor instead of in favor of the bass," concludes the Yamaha Pro. "The advantages of fluorocarbon make it the best all-around line we have available today, and I use everything from six to 25 pound strength.
"Still, a fisherman needs to study the water and cover conditions he's fishing, and choose his line accordingly, not pick a line by the lure he wants to use."
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