The Facts on Fishing Lines
Fishing line is many times part of our fishing equipment inventory that we take for granted. Most guys go to their local Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest thing on the shelf. They usually make sure to get about 5 sizes larger than they actually need just to make sure the big one will NOT get away. The truth is there’s a lot more to line than many would expect and to learn more I went to one of the best experts on the subject, Matt Zook in Atlantic Beach, NC. Matt’s knowledge covers all types of fishing lines, especially offshore. As a former fishing guide, my knowledge is pretty extensive even so Matt certainly taught the old dog some new tricks.
First, Matt explained the concept of using a “top shot”. This is the practice of using mono line on top of the now popular braid line. This allows you to use the mono to act as a shock absorber for strikes that otherwise might pull out of the fish’s mouth when using braid as your only line. With braid line having almost no stretching ability any instant hit can break the line or pull the hook. By putting a significant length of mono on top of the braid, you now have a level of shock absorption take place when a bigger fish hits.
Matt like most fishermen is a big supporter of braid line due to its strength and ability to allow more line to be spooled because of its smaller diameter. He says that the blue braid line is his favorite, with dark green coming in second, but is quick to say he really doesn’t see a significant difference in the braid color other than the ability to see the line behind the boat. Braid has only few drawbacks, the biggest being the saw blade effect when it is under high tension. For this reason, care needs to be taken when handling braided lines with big fish. Also, as mentioned above the absence of flexibility can cause the hook to pull out of the fish on sudden impact.
The lifespan of line is also a much longer than the lines of yesteryear. Today’s braided and mono lines last can last up to 6 to 7 years under moderate use and around 2 years with heavy use. The key will be making sure the line is properly maintained and cared for. This means keeping them in a climate controlled area with consistent and moderate temperatures. Also make sure you wash not only your rods and reels with clean soapy water, but make sure your line like your reels are dried. A small amount of salt residue can create substantial damage to your line. Drying the line will remove such residue. Another important step to keeping your line effective longer is to remember that both salt and sunlight will break down the line prematurely.
Matt also added that the line is only as good as the swivels and snaps used. Using less expensive snaps and swivels will almost always result in creating a propeller effect that will weaken your line, especially mono. Make sure you choose a good ball bearing swivel that won’t allow the tiny salt particles to seize it up. The same is true for snaps. Bad swivels can quickly ruin your day fishing.
When it comes to fishing line knots, Matt Zook is the master. This was recently proven in the recent “Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament” where Matt’s leader creation held up to bring in this year’s winning fish. His multiple line leader rig held up to hours of tension and fighting the 754 pound marlin. He is also the master of numerous other rigs such as a leader rig made especially for wahoo. Learning the correct way to make rigs and tie knots is an art that runs deep in Matt Zook’s family. Matt suggests that rather than learning how to tie the correct leader knots by trial and error your far better off by visiting your local tackle shop and learning from an experienced professional. You’ll be glad you did!
It’s important to remember that there are many factors to a great day fishing and your line is the foundation of that success. Don’t take shortcuts and make sure you’re using the right line the right way.
Matt Zook is the owner of Saltwater Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Beach, NC