Fishing line is by far the utmost important fishing equipment component for anglers, as the line is the direct connection between the fisherman and the fish. Using the proper line in presenting lures or live bait, upon hooking a fish and landing the fish is the key to a successful catch. Yet many anglers are not aware about the new types of lines available today each with its own special use and qualities including stretch, flexibility, knot strength, visibility, breaking strength, diameter and abrasion resistance.
HERE’S A SHORT SLIDE SHOW OF SOME NICE FISH CAUGHT AT WAWANG LAKE
Modern day fishing lines are made entirely from artificial materials including nylon, polyethylene, dacron, spectra, dyneema, polyvinyl chloride, wire, and lead. The manufacturing of fishing lines vary from using a extrusion process, melting and mixing of polymers which is formed into a strand through a die forming monofilament, fluorocarbon or copolymer fishing line. Braided line is made by braiding or weaving man-made materials such as fibers of dacron, dyneema, spectra. Wire line used on copper and stainless steel are also braided forming stranded lines Thermally fused lines are made of dyneema/spectra that is twined or clustered together to form a single line.
No brand of line is perfect for all fishing conditions. In choosing the best line for the type of fish being targeted one must consider many factors, the size and species of fish along with the type of fishing presentation and the most important matching the line to the tackle (rod-reel-lure-bait) used. Understanding each of the line types and when to use them will increase one’s fishing success.
Here is a breakdown of each fishing line by type:
In 1935 nylon was discovered by DuPont, made public in 1938 as a new invention, this created a group of synthetic super polymers that are commonly used in textile manufacturing today. In 1939 DuPont began making nylon monofilament fishing line that was primitive by today’s standards (stiff and heavy) as braided line was considered still the popular choice by anglers. Over the next two decades improvements where made (added flexibility, uniform quality and thinner diameter) which increased the popularity with the fishing community.
Today monofilament is the most commonly used fishing line accounting most of the line sold today. It offers the angler versatility, as it is available in a selection of colors: red, yellow, green, blue, clear and fluorescent along with degrees of flexibility, stiffness and abrasion resistant qualities. It can be spooled on spinning, baitcasting and spincast reels. Monofilament is best used on shallower water presentations than deepwater fishing due to it’s high stretch and water absorption factors resulting in loose knots and lack of sensitivity.
Walleye anglers use colored mono line when fishing jigs and soft plastic’s to detect strikes by watching the line, conversely live bait fisherman like thin flexible translucent mono for a natural presentation, on discolored water they favor fluorescent, on clearer water clear or green is preferred. For casting lures around cover and rocky area’s abrasion resistant lower stretch clear line is recommended.
With all of the options monofilament offers there are some line maintenance to follow, All monofilament have a memory, which means if the line is stored on a reel for a extended amount of time it will form to the shape around the reel spool. When this occurs in casting it will come off the reel in loops or coils. The other is the combination of sun or heat, storing your rod & reel outfit in a garage / shed over the hot summer months or leaving it outside exposed to the heat sun will deteriorate the line making it weak and brittle, if the line has developed a chalky type film it is time to be replaced. Finally in buying monofilament line stay with the known recognized brands than the cheap off brands bulk spools, as the cheaper brands don’t receive the quality control, proper additives and attention during the manufacturing process as the premium grade lines receive.
In the mid 1980’s copolymer fishing line was introduced. The process called copolymerization, is a combination of two or more nylon monomers to create a copolymer during the extrusion. The outcome of this resulted in a material that has additional benefits than monofilament. Copolymer fishing line features are smaller line diameters, abrasion resistant, have a lower stretch factor, high tensile strength, higher impact and greater shock resistance. Over the years new formulas have been added notably the addition of fluorocarbon which adds invisibility stealth factor to the line.
During the industrial period from the early 1900’s modern machinery was developed to manufacture braided fishing lines, this was considered the first commercial fishing line made in quantity. Silk was the common used material with many maintenance issues, after a day of fishing silk lines had to be un-spooled off the reel, washed and hung up to dry in order to prevent dry rot. Over the wars years two new synthetic fibers were developed and employed as fishing line, first Rayon considered at that time a artificial silk, then Dacron a polymer fiber know as polyester. The invention of braided fishing line was also instrumental in the development as a coated or wrapped component of specialty fishing lines such as fly lines, lead core trolling lines and for ice fishing tip up lines.
Braided lines are extremely strong, very abrasion resistant, low stretch and absorbs less water allowing greater sensitivity even when wet unlike monofilament. It also has no memory so it won’t come off your reel in coils and it doesn’t weaken from direct sunlight. Dacron braided line is still made today but with the advancements of monofilament along with the introduction of the new hybrid lines it has decreased in popularity by anglers and now primarily used for deep water trolling along with backing on fly reels.
In the early 1990s fishing line companies began adding new man made fibers to their braiding process such as Dyneema, and Spectra this created a new category of braided lines referred as ” Super Braids – Multifilament” ( by combining multiple fibers together during the process of braiding) the new synthetic fibers are thread like thin, very strong, pliable but yet abrasion resistant and have little stretch. The common factor of all of the new super braids today is to provide the angler with the smallest diameter (ultrathin -microdiameter) with the highest break strength. The benefits of the super braids are numerous, in casting artificial lures they dive deeper and faster with longer casts due to the thin diameter, with the low stretch it telegraphs strikes instantly to the rod tip for a immediate hook set, along with the high break strength it is the primary line used by fisherman targeting big fish such as Pike anglers.
In spooling super braids on reels you have two options to prevent line slipping, better casting and less backlashes. If you choose to spool your reel entirely with a super braid tie the line on the reel arbor, wrap a piece of electrical tape over the line and complete the spooling with tension applied, the other option is using monofilament as a line backing spooled on the reel arbor first and tied using a uni-knot to the super braid also applying tension upon spooling. (The lb test of mono should match the diameter of the super braid for uniformity and tying) Using a line backing conserves line usage as well as filling the spool, take in to account that super braids have small line diameters and the line filling amounts listed on the reel are based on monofilament diameters. Use the lb/yards amount listed on your reel as a guide for spooling the super braid; for instance if a 50lb super braid has the diameter equivalent of 12lb mono and the line capacity on the reel is 175 yds/12lb with the filler spool at 150 yards you will need to add approximately 20 yards of mono backing. As with all fishing lines the proper amount to fill a reel spool is within 1/8 of a inch from the top of the spool rim.
With the popularity of the new super braids incorporating the many features that Dyneema and Spectra micro fibers achieve: ultra thin diameter, low stretch and high tensile strength. Innovative fishing line companies realized this and introduced a new manufacturing process called fusion. Fused line are multiple layers of microfilament gel spun polyethylene fibers fused/twined together to produce a single strand of line. The end results are a high performance line, ultra thin, superior strength, very sensitive with good abrasion resistance.
Lead Core (Weighted Trolling Line)
Lead Core line came on to the fishing scene during the 1970’s as weighted trolling line. This allowed walleye anglers the ability to use light weight shallow running lures such as spoons, balsa and plastic minnow lures to reach depths were the fish are present. Lead Core is constructed of two components, the inner wire made of soft pliable lead and the outer sheath of nylon braid which is color coated every ten yards for metering purposes referred as the term colors. Recently a new environmentally safe non lead line was introduced using a metal alloy wire in lieu of lead. Weighted trolling lines are available in 100 – 200 yard spools ranging from 12lb to 45 lb test ratings.
The amount of weighted trolling line spooled on your reel is totally dependent on the species of fish you are targeting by the depth required, as a example Wawang Lake walleye anglers may use 15+ yards of weighted line or three colors. The approximate rule dependent on the lb test is every two yards of weighted line will sink one foot. The only reel type to be used for weighted trolling line is a conventional level wind trolling reel, the line capacity is based on the species ( smaller for walleyes larger for pike). In spooling the reel a line backing should always be used this also helps to fill the reel to the proper line amount. The most popular line backing used
today is the super braids which is tied to the weighted line using a Albright knot, after the weighted line is spooled a monofilament/fluorocarbon leader is tied using a Uni-knot.( Note: When tying backing or a leader to lead core remove the inner wire) This entire line set-up is referred as “segmented” which when properly used places the weighted line and lure at the feeding depth of fish. Trolling weighted (lead core) line is a technical presentation requiring a level of expertise and knowledge. If your considering using this trolling technique your success would be best served if you research the fishery and species before purchasing the proper equipment.
Wire is another trolling line option especially if your fishing presentation requires to go very deep. Wire lines come in a variety of choices, solid and stranded. Solid wire know as Monel is a metal nickel copper alloy which will go deeper than stranded based on the ultra thin line diameter and weight. Stranded offers many versions made of stainless steel or copper, in cable-laid wire, 49 strand, three and seven strand wire some of these come with vinyl coatings used mainly as leader material. One of most popular wire line for freshwater fishing is the seven stranded six wrapped or braided around one.
Copper seven strand is utilized as a alternative to lead core where as the weight of copper is double than lead core this achieves the same depth of lead core with only half the amount of line. The advantages of using wire line are numerous when compared to other conventional lines such as braided or monofilament, wire line with the weight and the ultra low diameter cuts through the water easily getting deeper using less line, it also has very low line stretch thus telegraphing fish strikes as they happen.
Getting set-up with a wire line outfit requires all special equipment, reels are trolling level wind with a metal or stainless steel spool to accommodate wire line, rods require hardened line guides that wire won’t cut along with a roller tip or all line guides using rollers. We highly recommend if you’re looking to use wire as a trolling outfit, go to a pro shop that specializes in wire line rods and reels. One of the most common problems in using wire starts with correctly spooling the backing and wire on the reel to the proper level. Fishing wire with the proper knowledge and set-up will add another dimension to your arsenal increasing your catch rate.
Line Maintenance / Spooling your reel:
Line replacement is highly important yet often neglected, this is commonly overlooked as some angler’s feel the existing line on the reel is sufficient. In writing this we can attest to the numerous times trophy fish where lost due to line breakage, in asking when the line was changed the response was similar “never” or “years ago”. Line degradation is caused by numerous different effects, some are environmental such as exposed to sunlight and heat for a extended amount of time other’s are physical, line scraping across rocks, logs, docks or other lake structure. For practical purposes most line wear occurs in the first few feet from your lure or bait, periodically check this by running your line between your fingers, if you feel any nicks, frays or twists remove that section of line and retie. All fishing line needs to be replaced at one point, as fishing line becomes wet and dry over time it eventually breaks down and wears out. Depending on the amount of fishing you do will determine line changing frequency, tournament anglers and pro guides replace line daily, other fisherman that spend a lot of time on the water replace line weekly or monthly. As a general rule fishing line should be at least re-spooled annually.
Filling A Revolving-Spool Reel:
Baitcasting and trolling reels are the easiest to spool up, especially if you ask a friend to help you. Just remember to maintain a moderate, consistent tension on the line at all times (by gently pinching the line between your thumb and forefinger) to avoid loose wraps that might cause tangling later.
- Insert a pencil into the supply spool to allow the fishing line to feed smoothly off the spool. Have someone hold each end of the pencil while you turn the reel handle. Your helper should maintain slight inward pressure on the supply spool to prevent it from overrunning, and to keep proper tension on the line.
- Fill the reel within 1/4-inch of the outer rim of the revolving spool. Don’t overfill.
Filling A Spinning Reel:
Because the spool of a spinning reel does not rotate, you should use this method to prevent putting a twist in the line.
- Pull old line off reel through line guides until you have enough room on spool for new line. If this is a new reel or if you wish to completely place new line on the spool your reel use an arbor knot to tie your line onto the spool.
- If your leaving existing line always leave some line from spool through rod guides and past end of rod to tie new line to.
- Tie new line to end of old line with a blood knot or a uni-knot
- Lay spool of new line of floor so line comes off spool just like it goes on reel spool
- Hold line tight with hand not turning reel handle just above reel
- Reel line onto reel slowly, making sure it is spooled firmly
- After about 12 turns allow some slack between the supply spool of line and your rod to be sure you are not getting line twist. If the line is twisting flip the supply spool over. Check this periodically because spinning reels automatically put twist in your line.
Filling a Closed-Faced Spin-Cast Reel
Fill a closed-faced spin-cast reel the same way you would a spinning reel, except remember to thread the line through the hole in the front of the reel. Spin-cast reels do not hold very much line, so remove the reel cover partway every now and then to make sure you do not overfill the enclosed spool.
So the next time you are ready to go fishing and need to run into your local sporting goods supply to just grab some leaders, take a few extra minutes to do an inspection of what you are purchasing. It might make the difference between a smiling photo or going home disappointed.
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