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Posted on Oct 9, 2008 in Top Shots
What's Your Line...And Do You Care?

If you fish - and if you're reading this, odds are you do - you rely heavily on that wispy piece of string connecting you to every fish you hook. The business of fishing lines is big business here and in Europe as well. But you might be hard pressed to believe the different approaches on measuring fishing lines taken by tackle industries in the two continents.

A reminder of this arrived the other day via email from the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) announcing that this entity "continues to set the standard when it comes to providing anglers with details on the exact performance of fishing lines."

Say what? No organization in the U.S., including the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), our own EFTTA equivalent, makes any attempt to set or check standards. In fact, you pays your money, etc. And the chances are you get line that is not what it claims to be on the package. That's true of monofilament which (unless it says it's "tournament-" or "IGFA-rated" or the like) will typically be 5 to 15 percent or more stronger than the package says. And it's even more true of braided lines, which often actually test out 20 to 100 percent higher than the stated strength.

Yet interestingly the opposite situation is true in Europe when it comes to line strength. The mislabeling is pandemic there also - very few spools of line are rated correctly. But whereas our lines almost always overtest (the tacit implication is that you get at least what you pay for, so what's the problem?), European lines (at least monofilaments) almost always undertest - though diameters usually run greater than stated.

I find it interesting that EFTTA continues its efforts to let buyers know how lines actually test and, presumably, to encourage line manufacturers to label accurately. "We will continue to carry out our twice-yearly random line tests until the problem of incorrectly labelled strains and diameters is cleaned up in the market place," says an EFTTA official.

Do anglers in Europe care? The association says so, calling the interest "tremendous."

Would angers in this country care? Do you? I admit that I would always like to know exactly what strength line I'm buying/using. But I just don't see any U.S. organization or agency testing lines, so, outside of occasional line-test features like those done by Sport Fishing, you'll have no way of knowing if your 20-pound line is actully 20-, 25- or 40-pound. At least - unless you buy your line from Europe - you can be pretty sure it will test out at least 20 pounds, and for many anglers that's good enough, I guess.
-Doug Olander