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Choosing the Right Fishing Line
By Justin Hoffman

The strongest, and most fragile link you have between yourself and a fish is undoubtedly your fishing line. Choosing an inferior product in order to save a few bucks, or picking the wrong style for the type of fishing you do, can lead to heartbreak when out on the water. So what are the best lines to choose and when should you use them? The following will hopefully explain the subtleties of the common "fishing line."


Monofilament is the most commonly used line when it comes to fishing, and is a mainstay on the majority of angler's reels. The one problem many anglers make the mistake of is buying the cheapest mono they can find. In fishing, you normally get what you paid for, so spend a little bit extra and buy a reputable brand. Berkley Trilene, SilverThread, Stren and Ande all have proven track records, and make a high-quality line. It is also important to change your line regularly - at the bare minimum once a season - as the sun and water will break down the line, leaving it weak and partial to breakage.

Mono is a great line to choose when you are faced with clear water conditions. This type of line is virtually invisible once it is under the water's surface, and can really up your odds for "line-shy" fish and those with excellent eyesight. Mono can be used for virtually every fishing situation you may encounter, and it is generally regarded as the best all around fishing line for all situations. (Braided lines fill some of these cracks when it comes to specific techniques.)

Monofilament will stretch a fair bit on hook sets, so extra force is generally required to drive the hook home. (Compared to the no-stretch traits that braided lines have, where less force is definitely needed.) Mono is generally a strong line, most are extremely abrasion resistant and are thin in diametre. One problem that many find with mono is the "reel memory" that this type of line has. Coils and loops are common occurrences for the mono angler, which can lead to backlashes and knotted lines on reel spools. One remedy for this unpleasant aspect is to make sure you are using the correct line weight for the reel size you are using. Unless you are doing Great Lakes salmon fishing with a spinning reel, the maximum line strength I suggest for freshwater applications is ten-pound test. Anything higher and coils, backlashes and tangles will rear their ugly heads. Your distance and accuracy will also suffer by going above this recommendation. Anything higher than ten-pound test is best fished on a baitcasting reels. There are certain situations and styles of fishing that afford some leeway in this generalization, but for most anglers chasing bass, walleye or panfish, this advice will make your fishing much more enjoyable.

The Braided Lines

Braided lines have come on strongly over the past few years, and more and more anglers are realizing the advantages these lines possess for specific situations and techniques. Braided lines are made by "braiding" or "weaving" fibers of a man-made material like Spectra or Micro- Dyneema into a strand of line. This process produces a line that is very strong, extremely abrasion resistant and has virtually no stretch whatsoever.

They are also extremely thin in diametre in comparison to the equivalent monofilament pound-test rating. What this means is that you are to choose a braid in a similar line diameter to the mono you would normally use - not the pound-test that you would use. If you generally use ten-pound test mono, the equivalent braided line might have a thirty to fifty-pound rating.

Two of the most popular braids on the market would have to be Power Pro and Spider Line. Both make highquality products. One other thing to consider is the price of braided lines. It can be two to three times as pricey as regular mono, but it doesn't have to be changed as often. The majority of anglers leave a backing of mono on their reels and tie on 50 or 75 yards of braid to fill the spool up. This will also save you money in the long run.

Braids also have some interesting characteristics that can be both good and bad. Due to the "no-stretch" capabilities of the line, a simple flick of the wrist is often all it takes to set the hook into the mouth of a fish. Rear back like you do with mono and you very well could break your rod, line or hook. Although the newer braids have come along way since their inception, they can still wear down equipment such as line guides and reel arms due to their strong makeup. Make sure that your equipment is capable of handling this tougher line before you spool up. Reel memory is also in sharp contrast to mono - there is none. This can mean smoother casts and less chance of backlashes and tangles.

Specialized techniques is where braided lines really shine, and things such as jigging, crankbaits and topwaters are all areas that braids can improve your fishing. When jigging with braids, you are able to feel every piece of structure, weed or light bites. And you have a direct and immediate hookset without the stretch. Crankbaits will dive deeper and feelings will be heightened through the use of braids. And since the line floats, topwater fishing can done more easily and efficient. (One key is to not pull the lure away due to the no-stretch braid..)

Fishing line has come a long way since it's inception, and new strides are being made each year. Consider these tips the next time you're in the "line aisle," and watch your angling skills grow in leaps and bounds.

This article is reprinted from the December issue of the FISHLINE, a publication of the Southtowns Walleye Association, the largest walleye club on the North American Continent