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Posted on Jul 25, 2008 in Top Shots
Monofilament? What's That?

Recently back from the annual ICAST tackle trade show in Vegas, then even more recently packing up rods/reels for a trip to fish northern Gulf in a couple days - jigging, throwing big topwaters, some trolling - those waters often do have it all. Those two events reminded me just how significant braided line has become.

I wonder how many of you now have braid on most of your reels - that used to be filled with mono. That certainly describes my tackle. One exception for most still remains in the area of offshore trolling, though even there, some blue-water big-game guys have gone to braid (albeit with mono topshot).

Despite all its faults, braid does a lot of things very well. And it's changing the way we fish, with most of us using increasingly smaller (but tougher) reels because it's so much thinner at the same strength than mono.

Granted, there are times when I curse the stuff and wish I were fishin' mono - especially with very light braid that loves to sneak a nasty little loop into a spinner's spool. Then it sits there like a time bomb, waiting to - almost literally - explode next cast, when that tiny loop becomes a hopelessly anarchic jumble of fibers as it passes through the rod guides.

Still, when it's good, it's great. And I've learned to be mighty careful, maintaining enough tension during casting and retrieving to minimize loopage (and also keeping a close eye on the spool). I've also continued to find knots to be critical - with all braid but particularly with the more "slippery" woven braids (vs. thermally fused fibers, as in Fireline and its ilk). That means first making a double line with a 10-turn Bimini twist. (So few turns should come as no surprise for regular readers of SPORT FISHING; others may want to find some of our knot-test features online; fact is that hours of testing proved to me that this is the strongest knot and in most braids offers 90-100 percent strength.) I follow that with a Yucatan (aka bristol) knot to connect main (braided) line to a (fairly light) mono or fluoro leader. Tiny knot, tiny footprint, casts easily through the guides and is amazingly durable.

Finally, while offering thoughts on braided line, I see it as something of a conservation tool, especially since I love to fish light tackle. That's because I am fishing little spinning reels that used to hold 200 yards of 6-pound mono but now hold 300 yards of 12-pound braid. So the line is lighter and thinner than 6-pound; I fish it as if it were 6- (or okay, maybe 8-) pound. But in those rare moments when I actually hook a fish that is too big for the tackle, rather than worry about being spooled or about an extended fight that may wear out a fish I want to release, I can simply crank the drag or put a bit more palm on the spool and get the fish to the boat.

So, love it (most of the time) or hate it (now and then), braid will no doubt remain my line of choice for most fishing, inshore and off. What do you prefer -- and why? Put your feedback in the forum on this; I'll be curious to see what others are thinking and why.