Newest Examiner Article: A Braid Crazy Society by Christopher Heller

Posted: May 14, 2012 by Hellcat in Fish Reports, Gear Fishing, News, Salmon, Trout & Steelhead, Sturgeon, Tips & Advice, Tutorials, Warm Water
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I’ve said before we live in a braid crazy society. Much has changed since the first time I strung up a Penn Senator with 80lb spectra fiber line in 1993. Twenty years since the dawning of new generation fishing line. Fishing line designed to mimic the stretching properties of stainless steel wire line while sporting a limpness equal to kite string.

Yes much has changed indeed. Braided lines have morphed into many different variations of structure while mostly we as an angling community collectively still refer to them as simply ‘braided line’. Let’s look at a few historical and factual points about what I will call ‘traditional’ braided lines made from the spectra fiber….which by the way was originally designed in the late eighties by the Japanese competitive kyte flying commuinity:

Braided specra line was first put to market by Western Filament and used a small amount of black nylon within the braided strands of spectra…presumably to slightly camoflauge the line…making the product a less than 100% spectra line. Used primarily by deep sea bottom fishermen and fresh water heavy flow sturgeon fishermen is was quickly identified as allowing less than adequate abrasion resistance.

Western Filament then replaced their standard line with a “PLUS” option that sported a pure spectra design which came first only in the color of the raw fiber itself, white. This replacement solved the issue of abrasion but with gaining popularity created many new problems that mainly stemmed from angler ignorance; namely proper knots to acheive the advertised line breaking strength.

Fact: Spectra line stretches one to two percent maximum versus traditional monofilament which sports thirty three to forty percent. Specra offered such minimal stretch it was equal to that of stainless steel wire. Yet due to the extreme limpness of the line there was next to no shock absorbtion offered what so ever. This created a backlash of problems with angling methods that required the direct placement of a sliding weight on the line itself. As well as an array of knot strength issues which ultimately created a need for education beyond that of any traditional monofilament line knots most anglers had used their entire life.

With the increased heavy use of braided lines many things not previously used became instant standards. The doubling of the line prior to tying your terminal knots became an immediate standard for heavy braid users with a few key knots working better than others.

At this point in history spectra lines are still considered a ‘utility’ line merely designed to allow the anlger to reach their desired angling depths without the normal weight previously required when using monofilament. You drop your line in 300 feet of water and you are feeling the bottom as if you’re in thirty feet of water. This is what one to two percent stretch can accomplish for you. The same is true to achieve bottom contact in turbid water conditions: Less lead, better bottom contact and more sensitivity all creating a better reaction time on your hook set.

The evolution of braided lines continued through the mid and late nineties sporting new colored line options. However….part of spectra property is zero water absorbtion. This would also ring true with dyes applied to the line itself. After not so significant use the dye would come off revealing the raw white color of the spectra fiber. Not so important to some anglers and very important to other anglers.

By now it’s the early 2000’s and most avid fresh water anglers have now tried one spectra brand line or another for finesse tactics in lakes and rivers. Bass fishermen loved the ability to pull fish out of heavy cover with ease while S&S river fishermen found joy in bouncing or drifting far less lead with much more sensitivity. Then another backlash occurred.

While many anglers by now had switched their reels to spectra…they often did so without considering a few key elements to a virtually zero stretch line. Such as tempering hook sets to avoid blown up rods and lip ripped fish as well as loosening drag settings for compensation. Again slowly but surely that proper knowledge was spread by those in the know and many problems once again ceased to exist. That is until the steelhead angler decided it was time to use these lines for their much coveted float fishing.

Lines that don’t absorb water also float very high when not weighted to sink. Hence properties similar to a fly line while mimicing the size of most dental flosses. Literally. While these characteristics allowed most float anglers the ease of longer drifts, simpler mending and more effective hook setting….the zero memory lent itself to a littany of line twisting issues grave enough to drive the most tenured angler totally insane.

So came what I call the ‘performance braids’. While the first ‘PB’s’ arrived in the early 2000’s it wasn’t until about 2003 that manufacturers really began to figure out their role in the performance braid game. They needed a line that could be used on a spinning reel to accomodate the rage that had gripped the PACNW river angling scene that was and is jig fishing under a float.

Fusing several pieces of spectra together to create a PB with slight memory to avoid tip wrap became the revoluionizing piece to the puzzle. It’s what I still use today. But finding that perfect line wasn’t enough for companies like Western Filament or P Line. They were bound and determined to undermine the perfection of such lines as Berkley Fire Line which had worked it’s way into every serious float anglers tackle bag by 2006. No the companies left in the dust who had been at the forefront of so much development decided they would do one better. Which they did not. Coated floating lines.

Which brings us nearly to current day. The idea behind such lines as Dura Cast by WF and Hydrofloat by P Line was pretty brilliant actually: Create a line that is coated and will mimic the mending properties of a fly line. Castabitlity is awesome minus some wind catching issues and all the other aforementioned beneficial properties of braided lines still applied making these offerings extrememly trendy up until about two or three years ago when they were collectively exposed by die hard river anglers such as myself and other serious river anglers like me. Anglers who put in work and put gear to the test. Most of all fishing line.

The weakness of these super braids? The coating came off with ease allowing the inner core of the line to expose itself and weaken under the simple pressure of a typical bobber stop knot not to mention traditional abrasion resistance issues also became an insane problem. But the marketing dollars of these large corporations continued to push these coated floating lines to tackle shops, large and small….and angler after angler was ill-advisedly handed a spool of this by their tackle store rep with the world at their finger tips promises.

Hopefully this article will waver an angler or two or two hundred or two thousand from making the grave error that is purchasing coated floating lines…and hopefully you’re just a little more informed as to how our Braid Crazy Society was formed.

Chris Heller is the Founder of and an avid river junkie.

  1. daheller says:

    Good article. Interesting history that I wasn’t full aware of. I was one of those that tried the coated lines for float fishing and was pissed when the coating came off in less that one season. Sal

  2. Lucas says:

    Interesting stuff Chris!

  3. […] To read my BRAID CRAZY SOCIETY article just click anywhere here (This article was ran nationally on … * * * TeamSalmon2013 […]

  4. Jim Reed says:

    Great read Chris!!!

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