Braided fishing line is a mainstay among anglers, but this product has only gained popularity in the lifetime of many people reading this. Most never heard of braided line at younger ages, but they’re now using it regularly and would feel lost without it during certain fishing situations. But for all its good qualities, it’s not always the best line to use.
In speaking with saltwater guides and everyday anglers across the Carolinas, it’s evident that braided line has its place, but monofilament is still the choice of many for certain applications — and not just because it’s a less-expensive alternative.
Chance Davies of Georgetown, S.C., spent decades in Florida guiding inshore and offshore fishermen, and he prefers monofilament over braid “in all but the most mundane fishing situations.”
“If you’re trolling, monofilament is the way to go. If you’re fishing hard structure, monofilament is the way to go. If you’re catching anything that requires you to grab the line to boat a fish, monofilament is the only choice. If you’re using small baitcasting reels, give me monofilament all-day long,” he said.
More often than not, Davies said the main reason is that monofilament has some stretch that braid simply doesn’t offer.
“If you’re trolling with braided line and hook a 60-pound tuna, something is going to break. It’s that simple,” he said. “More often than not — and hopefully for everyone involved — it’s the braided line that’s going to break. There is a great degree of stretch that mono can take without breaking. And you better have that ability to stretch when a big fish decides to take your lure in any direction other than what you want.
“It’s the same when fishing reefs. If you hook a grouper and he runs through a hole in the reef, if you try muscling him up, you’re going to pin him against the roof of the reef, and the sharp edges of coral will either cut your braid like a razor blade, or you’ll break your line or rod. With mono, the line will stretch, allowing the fish to settle down and hopefully swim out on his own or with a little pressure from you. Braided line is useless in that situation.”
But braid does have many advantages, and Davies said anglers can get the best of both worlds when using braid and mono together.
“Using braid allows anglers to spool much more line onto their reels, and when I’m using big trolling reels or even reels that I’m jigging with, I will use braid, as long as I use a long, shock-top leader of monofilament,” he said.
And when he says long, he means long. He insists on using at least 100 yards of mono on his reels.
“On my jigging rods, the braided line never even touches the water. When it’s time for new line, I just replace the 100 yards of mono and leave the braid. It’s very economical, lets me fit plenty of line on the reel, and gives me the shock absorption I need,” he said.
When fishing inshore, Davies doesn’t mind fishing braided line. He often uses a fluorocarbon leader, especially when fishing for flounder, redfish or speckled trout. With little structure to worry about, he said the fluorocarbon gives him more than enough shock absorption for these fish, and he likes being able to fit so much of the thin-diameter line on his 2000-series spinning reels.
“I also like how far you can cast with braid, which doesn’t come into play when trolling or jigging. But it can help tremendously when casting to spooky redfish or in keeping your distance from a known flounder hole,” he said.
When fishing for sheepshead around bridge pilings, Davies even uses braided line straight to the hook.
“Sheepshead don’t seem to be line shy, so they bite just as well. And the braid helps the hook penetrate their hard mouths quickly, and lets me pull them away from the pilings in short order,” he said.
But Davies does avoid braided line in one instance, even when fishing inshore.
“When I’m using a big slip float, I use mono. It’s always more difficult to get braid to slide through as easily as mono does. I always have to add more weight when using braided line, so I stick with mono there,” he said.
Knots for braid:
Braided lines, particularly when they are new, have a slick finish, and many knots commonly tied by fishermen, including the improved clinch, tend to slip, so they’re not the ticket for a knot tying braid to terminal tackle. The Palomar knot (www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOc3Q6-BnZ0) is a great choice, because it will not slip. The Berkley Braid knot is a similar knot that relies on loops to snug down the line in a fashion similar to snelling.