Setting the Hook and Using the Drag with Braided Line

Discussion in 'Catfishing Library' started by wolfman, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

    Triadelphia, WV
    Walter Flack
    Because of the way the braids are made and their relative strength, there is little or no stretch in the line. While this provides sensitivity to the angler, it is perhaps the number one reason for missed fish. It will cause an angler to rip the hook out of a fish's mouth if care isn't taken. Here's why -- monofilament stretches, and it stretches a lot more than most anglers realize. On a hook-set, that stretch in the mono cushions the blow to the fish's mouth. That stretch, coupled with give of the bend in the rod allows a fish to be hooked.

    With a braid, a hook-set under the same drag and rod conditions as monofilament can actually tear right through the lip of a fish, leaving the angler wondering why he can't seem to hook a fish. The truth is he is hooking a fish, but all the power of his hook-set on a line that does not stretch is ripping the hook out of the fish, either at the hook-set or halfway through the fight.

    Try this for yourself. Stand thirty yards from a stationary piece of heavy cardboard. With monofilament line on your reel and a hook barely sticking to the cardboard, follow through with a normal hook-set. Then do the same thing on the same rig, this time with braided line. The difference will amaze you. That braided line will bury the hook into the cardboard, while the monofilament will barely push through the other side.

    Here's the key to the whole puzzle. Since the braid can't stretch and give, you must provide that stretch and give with some other part of your equipment. The answer lies both in the drag setting on the reel and in the type of rod you use. It's as simple as that.

    An angler sets the drag on a reel spooled with monofilament based on how much pressure it takes to pull line from the reel with his hand. That pressure necessarily takes the stretch factor into account. The line will stretch before the drag releases any line. His drag-setting actually takes line stretch into account. Braids, on the other hand need a lighter drag setting and will actually perform better than monofilament if the drag setting is right - and right means much lighter than the setting for monofilament.

    On a braided line outfit, the rod needs to have a very fast taper. That is, the tip needs to be very limber and flexible while the backbone of the rod needs to be heavier with less give. With a fast taper rod, the stretch that is missing in the braided line is made up for in the give of the tip on the hook set.
    Medium-heavy and heavy-action rods are not the best choice for braided line - there is no give in the rod. Slow taper rods, those that will bend in a big 'U' shape are just as bad but because they have too much give.
    Be prepared, though. Fast and extra-fast taper rods will cost a bit more simply because it costs more to manufacture the blank. Generally, the cheaper rods on the market will be of the slow taper variety.

    There are arguments at every gathering of anglers about the merits of braided versus monofilament lines. They range from relative knot strength and knot integrity to line visibility, and they always include the hook set issues. Following the simple advice of using a faster taper rod and backing off on that drag can easily solve all of the major issues associated with braided line!

    On the plus side, remember - braided line has no memory. Unlike monofilament line, it remains limp and supple over time allowing it to cast easier and farther. These are the attributes that first attracted anglers to braids. Now, with a change in mindset regarding drags settings and rod choices, that wonderful aspect of braided lines can be realized.

    Give braided line another chance on your next trip. See if these tips don't pay off for you by way of more fish in the box!