By Tammy Spina
Haven’t tried braided lines before? Want to know more? Looking for pros and cons? This article will hopefully shed some light on the topic for you.
When you think of fishing line you probably think of a mostly clear to green or blue maybe even yellow thin plastic stuff called monofilament line (aka mono). When I was growing up it was all I knew back then, no matter what kind of fishing I was doing, fresh or salt water, estuary or game fishing, baitcaster or spin reel every reel we had was loaded with mono.
I remember the mess it used to make when I was young trying to use a baitcaster or if I opened the bail arm on the spinning reel without holding the line in place it would grow a mind of its own and tangle into mess and ruin dad’s day!
In today’s fishing world we have more of a choice. Braided fishing lines or braid/PE have been a game changer for me. I didn’t try braid till I was in my 20s but since then I haven’t looked back and now each and every reel I own is loaded with Daiwa Saltiga 12 or J-Braid.
What is Braided Line?
Braided fishing lines are exactly that, multiple thinner fibres braided together. The number of fibres is normally X4 or X8 but can go much higher, the higher the number of fibres the smoother and stronger the braid becomes. Braid is more commonly rated in PE instead of pounds which can be a little confusing at first since each brand does it their own way but basically it has more to do with the thickness of the braid then its breaking strain.
So, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of braid when compared to mono.
It may not look like it but braid is very, very strong for its diameter. Because it’s much more supple and so much thinner for its breaking strain one of the most obvious, important and significant differences between the two is in casting. It's chalk and cheese between the two and it will elevate your casting distance and control to a whole new level. Plus being so much thinner for its breaking strain it also means you can run stronger line and still fit more on your spool.
Braid also offers high sensitivity and combined with a graphite rod means you can feel exactly what’s happing with your bait, jig, lure or plastic. You can even feel what kind of ground you are fishing whether it's sand, rock, weed bed or mud. It really does make that much of a difference.
Another great feature of braid is zero stretch which means when you are fishing deep or have a lot of line out and a fish strikes there isn’t all that stretch in the line and you can keep pressure on those hooks and stay connected to that trophy fish.
Because braid is woven fibres its supple and doesn’t have memory so when you open the bail arm the line doesn’t spring into coils and make a mess. This also makes it very good for baitcasters and overhead reels as it helps avoid those nasty birds’ nests. Don’t get me wrong you can still mess up braid on a baitcaster or overhead reel but it definitely makes life easier.
One of the most under rated features that has served me very well since I switched to braid is the advantage of using multicolour braid. Now it may seem strange to some to have rainbow coloured fishing line but what this allows you know exactly how deep or far away your bait, jig, lure or plastic is. Most brands will change colour every ten meters so when setting up a spread when trolling you don’t have to guess how far back the lure is you just count the colours! If your anchored off a wreck, reef or structure you can count the colours and drift a bait or live bait back towards the structure and stop it before it gets snagged up in it. If you mark fish mid water column on the sounder, simply just count out the colours to how ever deep you need to go to place your bait, jig, lure or plastic right in their face.
As with everything there is give and take and braid does have a few things that let it down, lets start buy talking about the dreaded ‘wind knot’. Anyone who uses braid will at some stage experience a wind knot. They are from winding on slack line that then forms a loop under the top layers of braid and then while casting again the top layers pick up that bottom loose layer causing a 'wind Knot'. Casting on windy days definitely doesn’t help.
Braided lines have very little abrasion resistance when compared to mono so a 'leader' of mono or fluorocarbon is needed to protect it from making contact with structure or hard surfaces. Which does mean some fiddly finger work to do braid to leader knots such as the FG knot or albright knot. In saying that, with some practise these knots become second nature while out on the water.
If you let your braid sink and rest on the bottom it may snag on rocks or other structure and may break unexpectedly so when dropping baits a longer leader may be needed.
Because braid is so thin it can dig into itself during hard fights causing damage to other layers in the spool and/or can cut through itself. This is much more likely to happen on overhead reels which is why some braids are more suited for casting while others are better for overheads. Thinner braids aren’t always better and you want to make sure when spooling a reel up with braid it's spooled up under sufficient tension to help prevent this from happening.
Braid can also cut through your skin if you apply to much pressure while tying knots or if you were to try and use it as a handline. When landing fish it is much safer to grab the leader instead of the braid!
And finally, the cost of braid can be twice that of mono, but you get what you pay for. Going cheap on braid can lead to frustration, broken line and lost fish. Investing in reliable quality fishing gear will make your fishing experience that much better.