Braided fishing line has been popular for decades. Store shelves are full of the stuff. There are now multiple braids, line strengths, colors and varieties. But when should you use braided line?
I am talking about modern synthetic braided line here. Lines made of braided natural materials including horse hair were some of the first fishing lines ever created. Though these days “braided fishing line” normally means lines made of materials like Dacron.
Some people use braided line all the time no matter what kind of fishing they are doing. I am not one of those people. I recognize braided line as one of many things that can be used when fishing. It is better in some applications than others.
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Pros and cons of braided line
Braided line has a few major strengths. One is that it is very strong. Another is that it is very thin in relation to its strength. It also tends to last longer than basic monofilament line. Finally, braided line typically floats.
At the same time there are some downsides to using braided line. Firstly, braided line is highly visible. If you can see it, then fish can see it too. Braided line also tends to be a lot more expensive than “regular” line. Braided line is also geared more towards medium to heavy fishing tactics.
As you can see, braided line is not a one size fits all material. There are situations where braided line will really help. Then there are times where it might make fishing a lot more difficult.
Fishing with braided line
Braided line has its uses. If you are fishing for large fish in murky water with lots of snags, braided fishing line is going to be great. On the other hand, if you are trying to go ultralight for very weary fish, braided line is probably not a good choice. You simply have to match your gear to the situation. Braid will help you rip a stuck hook out of some submerged branches. But it can fray on sharp rocks.
I use braided line for carp fishing. Especially if I am using a hair rig with a slip sinker on the bottom. I also use braided line when fishing for large catfish. In both cases I stick with natural colors like brown and black that blend in with the surroundings. I don’t see any advantage to using brightly colored braid, and it has the potential to scare off fish.
I do not use braided line when fishing for species like bass, trout, crappie or even steelhead. I have tried it in all of those cases, and I have fished around others who do use braid. I simply don’t see any advantages to using braid for those fish. Though I can spot plenty of downsides. The main ones have to do with the visibility and material. I prefer monofilament or fluorocarbon line when I am going after any of those fish.
Using braided line
One thing to remember is that braided line is low-stretch. That can be a blessing or a curse depending on the situation. It can help you feel a bite at long distances but you can also overdo a hook set if you strike with too much force.
I might use 40 or 50 pound braid for carp. Yet my hair rig might be tied on 15 or 20 pound test. The lightest part of the rig can become a critical failure point. So just remember to react in proportion to what you are fishing with.
Another issue with braided line is that it can be tough to cut or even to break off when you get a serious snag. You want to use a leader to make sure the line will break up near the terminal end if you do stuck. Leaving yards of braid in the water would be bad for fish, anglers and your wallet. Set it up to snap down by the hook.
Finally, cutting braid calls for a particular sort of tool. Otherwise it can be a big pain. Rapala makes a super line scissor that will work if you put tension on the braid. Or you can invest in a good pair of Gerber Scissors that will cut pretty much any braid you can find.