Kyle Waterhouse looks at the evolution and use of braid in angling
Despite being a relative young’un in fishing, I do remember a time when modern braids weren’t readily available. My first experience with anything other than a monofilament was spooling an old beaten Abu 7000 with Dacron for conger fishing. The diameter of it was so thick and bulky that I only just had enough on the spool to hit bottom when out on the charter boats. If I got snagged up, which I inevitably would, I had to forget trying to break it by myself. This stuff was like anchor warp, and much to the skippers delight when he had to be called over with a plank of wood to assist me in snapping it!
Fast forward 15 years and thankfully those days are long gone, and we can view the development of braided lines as a great triumph in fishing tackle evolution. The manufacture of modern braids has advanced so far that we are now spoilt for choice and in fact we face a new challenge in deciding the best ones to go for. Today’s braids cover all the new developments in fishing styles right down to the most finesse hair like lines. Each spool is designed with a specific benefit and application for use so I’ve put together a user guide of all the Berkley and Spiderwire braids on the market which might help you choose.
Developments in Manufacturing
Modern manufacturing processes have seen the quality of braided lines improve dramatically and the use of man-made fibres such as Dyneema® and Spectra have led the way. These are spun through a spinneret and then intertwined together to form the line. It then undergoes various coatings and treatments which alter the smoothness, stiffness, tightness, colour etc to form the braids we know today.
40% stronger than kevlar
The production process creates a fishing line which is extremely strong and in fact the strength-to-weight ratios for Dyneema are about 40% higher than that of Kevlar! Another most notable benefit is its low diameter and as an example, a monofilament line of 15lb breaking strain would typically equate to around 0.35mm diameter. In braid terms the same breaking strain would have a diameter as low as 0.12mm, so it’s easy to see why anglers are choosing braid over mono. The developments in braid have revolutionised boat and kayak angling in the UK, though it’s safe to say that monofilaments do still have a place. I’ve had a go at summarising the key advantages and disadvantages of braids for boat anglers to help you decide whether it’s the right choice for you and your fishing.
- The low diameter of braid means that it can cut through tide far more effectively then thicker monofilament. Improved bite detection will be noted as the lack of stretch helps anglers stay in touch with what is happening with their rig, even hundreds of feet below them.
- Longer and smoother casts can be achieved with lower diameter coated braids.
- Braid is much stronger than monofilament of the same diameter and depending on the braid it can often be more abrasion resistant
- Your reels line capacity is greatly improved, and a lower diameter line means you get more meters loaded onto your spool. Essential when fishing deep or for big, fast running game species such as Sharks and Tuna.
- The non-stretch properties of braided line make it less forgiving than mono and it can suddenly give when over loaded. Incorporating a monofilament shock leader can help to add a little stretch.
- When boat fishing, braid can cut through monofilament if lines under pressure come into contact, e.g. when an inevitable multi-rod tangle occurs!
- Despite the general price of braids decreasing, these types of lines are still much more expensive than mono. My guide should help you choose the most appropriate line for your needs and budget.
- Braid that is not spooled correctly can slip or bite into the spool. This can be overcome by spooling under tension with the help of a friend or a portable line spooling station.
It might just be me, though I tend to get through quite a lot of braid. I’m particularly fussy about wear and tear as the type of fishing I do means a lot of stress and strain is put on my line. I routinely check my reels when rinsing them down and this includes a braid check to look out for nicks, frays and wind knots. I can tell you that finding any of these at the end of a cast, can play havoc with your confidence and is best avoided! Damage from rocks, rough ground and other structures will seriously weaken your braid and just like mono your braid should be changed regularly if it looks past its best. A good rule of thumb is to keep an eye on the colour of the braid as once all the colour has leached out, it’s usually been on long enough and is time for a change.
Using the correct knots for the type of braid is also an overlooked subject and one certainly worth discussion. I’ve learnt this the hard way and have now completely stopped using my trusty blood knot with braids after having it fail on me more than once. That’s a knot I’ve always used with mono with no issues at all, though I must say it’s rubbish with braids and is best avoided. I’ve added some knot diagrams into this article and personally I’m having good success with the Palomar knot for swivels and lures and Jeff Smith kindly taught me the Albright special for a strong braid to mono link. That knot was very helpful during our Panama adventure where knot strength was tested far beyond that of the UK. I can say I have full confidence in it and the fact it can be tied quickly and easily is ideal when you’re in control of a kayak!
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