BRAIDED LINES- considering a switch?

Discussion in 'Catfishing Library' started by stumpjumper, May 22, 2008.

  1. stumpjumper

    stumpjumper New Member

    Dallas, GA
    There are many pros and cons to using braided lines over monofilament lines. While the focus of this post will be to offer some helpful insights into braided line usage, I will briefly describe some of the more “common” pros and cons that are discussed regarding these two types of line. No matter what your reason may be for considering a switch, I would like to iterate that the intention of this post is not to start a debate, but rather offer prospective “switchers” a balanced description of some of the pros and cons, as well as some ideas and tips that I have learned since I switched to braided lines.

    One of the greatest benefits of using braided lines, and the sole reason that I made the switch, is their comparatively small diameter. For example, fifty pound test braided line may have a comparable diameter of twelve pound test monofilament line. This conveys an obvious advantage in that you can greatly increase your line capacity, without decreasing the strength of your line. In fact, in most scenarios, you can increase both the strength of the line and your total line capacity at the same time! How much strength do you really need? There are just too many variables to consider and all will be specific to your techniques, the bodies of water that you fish and the species of catfish that you are targeting. Therefore, only you can decide on the strength of line that is needed. Perhaps you are targeting Blues in relatively, snag-free waters. In this case you may only need 20-40 pound test line, and unless your reel capacity is extremely small, there may be no good reason to switch. This all depends on how you weigh the pros and cons. On the other hand, you may be after Flatheads in log-infested rivers with swift current and an occasional rusty bed mattress. Under these conditions, you may want braided line 50 pounds or more, even if it is simply for insurance reasons. The bottom line, no pun intended, is that the strength of line that you need will depend on your unique circumstances.

    If you are still considering a switch to braided line, let me first describe some of the cons that might effect your final decision, as well as some solutions that have worked well for me. First, braided lines have very little stretch. This is a considerable difference from monofilament lines, and may even necessitate changes in your techniques. For example, if your style involves any type of hook-set, then you may want to learn to set the hook with a little less vigor. One problem with braided lines is that it is much easier to rip the hook out of the fish’s mouth, a force that is usually absorbed by the stretch of monofilament lines. On the other hand, if you target Bullheads and Channels, you will likely enjoy the fact that braided lines are extremely sensitive. Just don’t set the hook too soon! Braided lines have a whole new “feel” that needs to be learned. Braided line is also considered more visible than monofilament, something to consider if you fish very clear waters.

    What type of rod and reel do you have? Braided lines can be tough on less expensive combos, whether it’s the gears in your reel or the guides on your rod. Foremost, I would highly recommend stainless steel or titanium guides on your rods. I have had the nylon inserts pop out on some of my other rods. Now just because it can happen, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try braided lines on less expensive rods. My wife’s Ugly Stick still has all the nylon inserts on its eyelets and she has caught several 40-50 pound fish on that rod. However, I attest that it can certainly happen, so go with stainless or titanium if you can! Did you know that Catfish Safari is a BOC sponsor that makes one heck of a fine rod?

    Do not over tighten your drag! You must learn to set your drag tight enough, but not too tight. The latter can result in an expensive and time consuming snag that I will refer to as a dig-in. More specifically, a dig-in occurs when too much force is applied to braided line causing it to embed and bury into itself on the spool. This will result in a nasty backlash. This first happened to me drift-fishing on Santee-Cooper. This was one of my first trips with braided line and I had not ensured that my drag was set correctly to avoid a dig-in. My drag was too tight and after a nasty snag on the lake bottom, I had my first bad dig-in. I had to cut out all of the line and completely re-spool. This brings me to two other important points of consideration. First off, braided lines are much more expensive than monofilament lines. Enough said there. Second, when you initially spool your reel, you need to use either a monofilament backing or a small piece of tape on your spool knot. Otherwise, the entire spool of line might spin. If this occurs, you will need to pull the line off and spool again using tape or a backing. Some reels now come with a small attachment point on the spool that circumvents this entire problem. Basically, to avoid a dig-in, tighten the drag so that if you are drifting or using circle hooks, there is enough drag and tension for the hook to penetrate the fish’s mouth. Larger fish are then able to pull drag off the reel until you can get the rod in hand. If you free spool or use bait runners, this is not a major concern. Finally, I highly recommend that you use the knot suggested by the manufacturer of the line.

    Dang, how do I break this stuff? Well, if you have chosen a very high pound test braided line, you better be ready to deal with inevitable snags! Don’t just start pulling with a tightened drag. Remember the dig-ins discussed earlier? You may want to use a small wooden dowel rod or towel to wrap the line and then pull real hard.

    Is it harder to cast? The common theme thus far has been that the transition from monofilament to braided line will require a few slight adjustments. Regardless of the style of reel you are using, most everything will remain the same. Just take a few practice casts… adjust the spool tension (baitcaster) just like you would with monofilament. I do have one very important piece of advice for casting braided line. After a snag, fighting a fish or even before the first baited cast of a trip, I take a “pre-cast”. Because braided line has a tendency to embed into itself, it may help to take an unbaited cast to get any embedded areas and kinks out of the line. This way you won’t sling off a bluegill, sending it hundreds of feet to its senseless death. It is a simple precaution that can save you both bait and time.

    There are so many choices to choose from! No problem, just ask any of the knowledgeable folks here on the BOC. You will undoubtedly get all kinds of advice, opinions and descriptions. Some braided lines tend to become deformed and flatten easier than others. Some lose their coatings and fray faster. Yet, others seem to cast better. The topic of braided lines comes up quite often on the BOC, which is why I have taken the time to share some of the information that I have learned. Unfortunately, most of it was learned the hard way! Ultimately, you must consider the pros and cons to determine if braided lines will work well with your style of fishing. Good luck!

    I would like to thank those members of the BOC that gave me helpful comments and suggestions on the initial draft of this post.
    JoshFisher likes this.
  2. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

    South Caro
    < Dang, how do I break this stuff? Well, if you have chosen a very high pound test braided line, you better be ready to deal with inevitable snags! Don’t just start pulling with a tightened drag. Remember the dig-ins discussed earlier? You may want to use a small wooden dowel rod or towel to wrap the line and then pull real hard.>

    Catmaster James Matherly showed me to wrap the line around the reel about two to three times and point the rod tip towards the snag and pull. Works miracles without having to use any other devices to pull the line with.
    Bill in SC

  3. TexDan

    TexDan New Member

    I like your approach. No debate just the bare facts…I use braid in some places and mono in others. Something that I found early on is that you will do better with braid if you use a somewhat softer rod. I had never had the pleasure of snapping my line on the hook set until I tried braid. As you mentioned, a rip their lips off hook set isn’t needed or wanted with braid. While braid is stronger than mono in some areas, it has very little “shock” resistance. You just can’t break mono on a hook set. It gives and absorbs the force. Braid has no give at all and will just pop unexpectedly. This is a BIG bummer when you are sure that you just lost a good ole big’un.

    Braid, just like mono, is usually somewhat stronger than the stated pound “test”. I once had to use my boat to pull a heavy bass jig up out of a log jam. I was flipping with 65lb braid when I felt a tick. I crossed his eyes and evidently set the hook into a limb of considerable size. The limb would give but I couldn’t break it or my line! I’m a big boy and even with the line wrapped around my gaff handle I couldn’t pull it loose. I finally tried wrapping it on a cleat and pulling with the boat motor and straightened the hook. This can be very annoying!

    One place where braid really shines is when you are fishing long lines such as surf or long cast catfishing. That lack of give makes setting the hook when you have a hundred yards of line out cross current a much surer thing. The massive amount of line that you can get on a regular reel allows you to use smaller lighter reels to get the job done. A 6500 ABU suddenly can cover ground that previously you needed a Penn 209 or a 7000 ABU to cover. I still use my old 5000B that I got for my 16th birthday 40 years ago. With 20lb braid it is just right for catfish in open water.

    If you are fishing water where Hydrilla and moss is a factor, braid is wonderful. It will allow you to pull up a fish buried in “moss’ that you wouldn’t have ever had a chance of getting with mono. Often it will actually cut itself free in light reeds and such.

    I often tie a 10 foot shock leader of mono on the end of my braid when fishing fairly open water so that when the fish gets near the boat and is thrashing I have the give of the mono. This also makes it easier to break off and offers a little give if you need it.
  4. Rapptorman

    Rapptorman New Member

    I have been a big fan for a long time, spiderwire first, but the finesse fishing is is impossible. Then I moved on to fireline which is more of a fusion line but still very strong, again the change to bass fishing is a bit difficult because of visibility problems in my opinion. I have recently been using powerpro line and have found it to be much smoother casting than the old spiderwire but again visibility can cause bass to drift off. For catfish though the power pro hasn't let me down. I use I believe a 30 pound with 8 diameter. And as of yet only broke it on a paddlefish that spooled me in the river. Good luck and I hope this helps,