Whether you seek stripers, bluefish or summer flounder, today's new super lines are your ticket to success. Here's why.
Fishermen on the beach or in boats will catch more fish when using the latest braided, fluorocarbon or monofilament lines. Photo by Milt Rosko.
It seems like only yesterday when, after arriving home from a successful fishing excursion on the coast, the first order of business for my dad and me was to carefully remove our Irish linen line from the reels and place it onto a line dryer. That was a lot of years ago, where it was necessary to be meticulous in caring for linen line, or suffer a line break on the next fishing trip.
Fortunately, synthetic lines like braided nylon and monofilament came into vogue soon; yet, even as advanced as these new lines were, each had their shortcomings from easily fraying to stretching like an elastic band. Then Dacron was introduced, with its fine diameter and little stretch qualities. And the miracle of modern line technology continues.
Quite honestly, I never thought I'd see the day when recreational anglers would have the selection that is currently available to them, including braided and fluorocarbon lines, and what has come to be known as super monofilament.
Perhaps the line that my wife, June, and I are most appreciative of is braided line. For in years past, when we trolled for striped bass and bluefish, we regularly employed solid Monel wire, braided wire or lead-core lines, primarily to get lures to a desired depth. Often this necessitated streaming upward of 300 feet astern as we trolled, sometimes with heavy trolling sinkers. With a combo such as this, we were able to get our spoons, plugs or leadhead jigs into 30- or 40-foot depths.
While this achieved the objective, and got the lures deep, our arms would ache after retrieving 300 feet of line with a tough striper or blue challenging your every handle turn. To say the arms were especially sore the next morning would be an understatement!
And then came braided line. Presto! Just like that, there was a line with strength, fine diameter and a no-stretch quality, and no memory, which all but abolished the heavy, unmanageable lines of the past.
Braided lines for the most part are made with either Spectra fibers, a registered trademark of Honeywell and used by American manufacturers, or Dyneema fibers, which are employed by overseas companies.
One of the greatest features of braid is its fine diameter, i.e., 30-pound-test braid has the diameter of 8-pound-test mono. This fine diameter enables you to get your trolling lures deep with little resistance while trolling. That occurs as a result of the minimal water resistance of the extremely fine braid.
Braid's fine diameter also proves a godsend when fishing deep-water grounds in the Northeast when codfish, pollock and other species are targeted in 250- to 300-foot depths. Instead of having to use 12- to 16-ounce sinkers to hold bottom in a swift current while keeping your line perpendicular to the bottom, with braid you can hold with little difficulty while using 6 to 8 ounces of sinker weight, which makes this type of fishing much more pleasurable.
The no-stretch feature of braid has another advantage in that it immediately telegraphs even the faintest strike you receive. I regularly fish the far offshore canyons for tilefish, and we normally fish in 400- to 1,000-foot depths. I can easily hold bottom, and instantly feel a strike to promptly respond with a hookup, something that would be very difficult to achieve with other lines.
Braid can become unwieldy at times because of its fine diameter and strength. You'll need a pair of braid-cutting scissors that are extremely sharp. If you try to cut braid with pliers or a knife, you'll experience difficulty, to put it mildly.
Fluorocarbon entered the recreational fishing sector as an expensive leader material. Its claim to fame was the fact it's invisible in the water, and repeated tests have shown that by using fluorocarbon leaders rather than monofilament leaders, with the same lures and presented in the same manner, the fluorocarbon outfished the mono.
As with most products, over a period of time as demand and production move upward, the costs are reduced. Soon, many anglers, me included, began to ask, why not just spool fluorocarbon line, making your entire presentation invisible when the line is in the water? As such, practically all of my light-tackle spinning and conventional reels that I employ for inshore fishing in bays and rivers — where shallow, calm, clear water prevails — are loaded with fluorocarbon.
By far, the most effective, easily understood application is using fluorocarbon line while chumming with grass shrimp for weakfish. Using 10-pound-test fluorocarbon, I just tie the hook directly to the end of the line, bait up with a couple of tiny grass shrimp, and permit the baits to drift out in the chum line.
Often, when the chumming action is slow, I'll elect to cast or drift. Simply tie on a swim shad or plug and just cast away. Ditto with respect to a bottom rig, thus presenting my bait, and a tiny sinker the only visible accoutrement, which just has to have had an influence on my catches the last couple of years.
SUPER MONOFILAMENT LINE
Then there is monofilament line, and herein there is a distinction that I believe would best serve the public's interest by just adding the prefix super before the word monofilament. Super monofilament is so unlike the old, unwieldy, elastic, memory-prone, uniformity-lacking line of an earlier era that it truly deserves a new name! Yes, super it is, but to this day, I run into people who often pick up a spool of mono line in a tackle shop, figuring that all mono is the same, which it certainly is not.
Super monofilament has the qualities that were lacking in the original product. Among the most notable improvements are finer diameter, minimal stretch and outstanding tensile and knot strength. Its minimal memory characteristics are also very important, especially when casting, as the line slips from the reel effortlessly, not encumbered by memory that in older lines results in what appears to be somewhat stiff, coiled line leaving the reel, which in turn inhibits the casting distance achieved.
Super monofilament and fluorocarbon lines are ideally suited to boat fishing, especially aboard party boats where tangles are inevitable. There's no question that these lines lend themselves to easier handling when attempting to untangle than do braided lines. The major drawback of braid is its fine diameter and feel of sewing thread. When you get several such lines in a
tangle, it's almost impossible to separate them, and often it means cutting all the lines.
Both braided lines and super monofilament lines are available in a variety of colors. When trolling I find yellow braid very effective as it's highly visible when it's streamed astern. Camouflage color is also available, as is dark green, red and a host of other colors and shades. While colors have their advantages, the invisibility of braid in the water is difficult to dispute.
Knots play an important role in all of the lines, and I still vividly recall vintage monofilament that was so stiff that no matter the knot I chose, it would result in a big, bulky and oftentimes inefficient connection, prone to breaking. All of the lines are only as good as the knots you employ.
Citing the overhand knot as an example of the worst knot you can use only highlights that even in this day and age of improved line quality, many anglers still have not achieved the skills of employing the proper knots. Simply stated, a poor knot will enable the line to cut through itself, hence the importance of taking a couple of extra minutes to learn knot tying. It'll be the best investment you've made, second only to sampling these dynamic braid, fluorocarbon and super monofilaments . . . especially when you've got a big one on!