Father’s Day Gift: A Daiwa® Black Gold rod and reel combo. I thought it was time to try braid (or “super line”) instead of mono, which triggered much investigation into line, spooling, and knots.
Comparisons of braid versus nylon mono summarize to three main points:
- Braid’s minimal stretch means greater sensitivity, but with an increased risk of line break.
- Braid’s greater strength at smaller diameters means you can cast farther and have more line on a reel.
- Braid can cut up your fingers if you’re not careful.
I also ran across suggestions that braid may not work well with some reels. One commenter in a Hull Truth Boating forum specifically mentions the Daiwa Black Gold as unsuitable for braid, but a Google search on the topic turned up plenty of fishers who use the two together.
At StripersOnline, Tim Surgent writes that braid must be retrieved under some tension to wrap back on the spool properly. Use it for fast retrieve situations. Even so, slack braid at the end of a cast can “come across the spool instead of going around the spool.” The solution:
When you cast and close the spool, make sure the braid is not crossing the top of the spool. You can do this by looking, or by running your finger around the edge of the spool before you reel any line up…or, as I just learned to do with my new Mitchell Neptune, which is bigger than all my other spinning reels, I close the bail, then I pull the line hard enough to make the drag slips just an inch or two…that way, if the line was crossing the spool, it’s not anymore but is now right on the spool.
One factoid related to braid comes from “The Ultimate Line Experiment,” a great article in the May 2010 issue of Field and Stream (not online at this point, as far as I can tell). According to author John Merwin, if you wish to use lines of similar diameters for spooling or leaders, 30-pound Berkley FireLine Braid is roughly the same diameter as 10-pound Big Game mono.
“The Ultimate Line Experiment” also provides laboratory test results (diameter and strength) of 10-pound-test mono, which is worth checking out. Personally I would appreciate tests of 20- and 30-pound-test mono for surf-fishing, but in the absence of that, the article at least highlights some brands that did well, including P-Line Xtra Strong, Gamma Ultra Clear, Maxima, Sufix Elite, and Silver Line. Sufix Elite and Silver Line stand out as the strongest 10-pound-test lines not over 0.012″ in diameter.
As far as braid goes, PowerPro, FireLine, and SpiderWire all have their advocates in the forums. Fishingmag.co.nz offers a strong endorsement for Sufix Performance Braid in surfcasting conditions, especially in contrast to FireLine.
Because braid will slip if attached directly to a spool you need to spool with a run of mono before splicing it in. The most concise advice I found on this topic is on a Stripers247 forum:
It is very important to use a mono backing under the braid, simply because without it the braid will slip on the spool rendering your reel useless when you have a fish on. I put just enough mono on the reel so that you can still fit at least 200-300 yards or so of braid on top of it, filling the spool to within an 1/8” or so from the lip. The amount of mono will vary depending on the size of your reel, but you don’t need much to provide the spool grip it’s intended for, anything more than that is just to save you money by partially filling the spool with a cheaper line than braid.
I use an Albright knot to join the mono backing and the braided line. The Albright knot is pretty easy to tie once you learn it and is great for joining two lines of different diameter.
Above that, Roccus recommends wet-packing the braid:
I put about 10 yds of mono on my spool (via an allbright knot 21 turns) then I wet pack the braid, to do this, I half fill a 5 gallon bucket with water, I then put my spool of braid into it, I have a steel dowel that is the width of the bucket that I put through the spool, and drop the spool into the bucket, now I can pinch the braid between my fingers and fill my spool, the line packs tightly and is less likely to dig into itself.
Good enough. This leaves open the general question on spooling techniques. Spooling is covered ably in the “How to Spool New Fishing Line Onto a Reel” article on wikihow. One additional technique, mentioned in a Bass Fishing forum, is to walk out the line. Tpayneful writes:
But you are going to have some line twist based on the fact that you are taking a big curl from one spool and turning it into a small curl on the reel. After I spool up the reel, I connect a snap swivel to the line, connect the snap to something outside and walk until all the line has come off the reel. Then I reel all the line in under pressure as I walk back. The swivel allows the twist to twist out of the line.
The connection to the spool, the mono to braid splice, and the braid to terminal tackle define three targets for specific types of knots.
Since the spooling is done with mono, a standard Centauri or Arbor knot applies. The Centauri knot diagram below is from Fintalk (I’ve edited it a bit for appearance):
The mono to braid splice can use the Albright knot or the J-Knot developed by Dave Justice.
Netknots.com offers this diagram of the Albright (click through for an animated version):
Here is J Knot:
At the terminal end, the strongest knot for braid is the Palomar, as verified by “The Ultimate Line Experiment.” The easiest approach is to tie a Palomar knot to a swivel — a barrel swivel for an opposite leader or a snap swivel to connect to a lure. For a direct connection to a lure, a Berkley Braid knot offers an alternative that doesn’t require looping around a rig.
Here is the Netknots.com diagram of the Palomar knot:
Finally, the Berkley Braid knot:
Someday, when I have time, I’ll draw my own diagrams.