After settling your rod & reel, it’s time to load some braided lines onto your reel to go fishing! I’ll be sharing info on braided lines only as I’ve never looked back after switching from monofilament to braid many years ago.
I emphasize all information shared in this blog is just my personal opinion & experience which some may beg to differ 🙂 If you have any thoughts or questions please leave them at the end of this post.
Some of the differences braid vs mono are:
- Braid has almost zero stretch which makes your connection from rod to fish very sensitive. You can feel the movement of the lure, when your jig hits bottom & especially when the fish hit.
- Due to almost zero stretch, you do not have to set your rod very hard (saving energy) to drive the hooks in. In fact, you should not strike too hard if going for soft-lipped fish as you may rip the hooks out.
- Most of the braids nowadays are either marked (popping braid) or colored in section (jigging braid) to indicate its length. This is useful if you want to know how far you’ve cast out, how much line you’ve released, at what depth or distance out is the fish biting, etc.
- Braid has no memory ie. if you lay out your line from your reel onto the floor, you won’t see it in coils unlike monofilament. Thus if you’re using old mono, your line cast out may be wavy & not straight, unlike braid which will be straight even when heavily used.
The only 2 setbacks I find in braids are:
- Price – higher than mono; this can be overcome by turning over the line in the reel ie. for each filling of your spool, you can use it twice. Put a tag on the spool arbor to indicate no of times used.
- Absorbency – as a single braid is made of many minute strands spun together (like a rope), it’s inherently absorbent. This means saltwater may accumulate in the line especially in old lines when the protective resin coating has worn off. As listed in Tackle Care, it’s advisable to rinse braid in freshwater after each use especially when storing tackle for long period (preferably to soak braid) to avoid deterioration in line quality & to prevent corrosion in the spool.
Braid for Jigging vs Casting/Popping
- If you notice, several of the top brands like YGK, Varivas, Sunline, etc offer specific lines separately for jigging & casting/popping. I’m not sure if this is a marketing gimmick or is it really backed by scientific studies but I really cannot feel the difference when using either line. I’ve even used popping line for jigging & vice versa & still don’t feel any significant difference.
- I do heard from some anglers popping line is supposed to be softer (than jigging line) in order to achieve greater casting distance which I agree too.
Hint: If you want the best & if it’s within your budget, go for specific jigging or casting/popping line for each application. This can be a psychological edge you gain in helping you chase your trophy fish 🙂
What is PE?
- PE (stands for PolyEthylene) is the base material used in the manufacture of very thin strands of filament which are thereafter spun together to form braids…like rope, pony tail, etc.
- The Number that follows behind eg. PE8 refers to the diameter of the line…the bigger the number, the bigger the diameter ie. the thicker the line. This PE number is a good reference when buying braid to fill up a spool eg. PE8 300m stated on the spool circumference. It means this spool is built to be filled adequately near the brim by 300m of PE8 line of any brand. If you’re filling in with thinner PE6 line, then you will need more line maybe 350m to reach the same fullness in the spool.
- Many mistaken this PE number as the KG/LB rating of the braided line…& it’s not. But there are conversion table from each brand converting eg. PE8 to the KG/LB rating or breaking strain. And it’s appropriate to use table from the brand you’re using as different brand measures the breaking strain of the braids differently…some using Ave value while some use Max value. Eg. if a braid breaking strain is tested 3 times with line breaking at 8, 9 & 10kgf…the Ave will be 9kgf while the Max is 10kgf. It’s the same line but can be rated & marketed differently by different brands. Obviously if you buy a line Max rated at 10kgf, it can still break at lower 8 or 9kgf.
- You can also find this PE rating on rods especially the Japanese jigging or popping rods. You need to match correct PE braided line to the rod you’re using as described in Fishing Rod Basics.
x4 vs x8
- This refers to the number of PE strands spun together to form the line. Many thin PE filaments are spun to form 1 strand which in turn 4x or 8x strands are spun together to form the finished product. This is the same concept behind production of rope, string, thread, etc. It’s the combination of several spun strands that made braided line, rope, etc so strong as compared to a single strand.
- Some brands spun their lines into non-circular cross-section but it’s those with circular cross-section that I prefer eg. Sunline PE…almost circular as nobody can achieve perfect circular spun braids. A circular cross-section will produce less friction when going thru the rod guides resulting in a further cast.
- Though x8 braided line cost more than x4, I personally prefer & recommend x8 as it provides a rounder profile compared to x4 due to its geometrical combination of more strands. This gives a smoother surface on the line reducing friction as it passes thru the guides.
Hint: Go for x8 which gives a smoother less friction flow thru the guides. When using x4 in jigging, I can hear a wheezing sound produced by friction between line & guides which was rather distracting.
Soft body vs Hard body
- Most brands apply a very thin coat of resin or silicone based coating onto their lines to protect & increase abrasion resistance. This coating gives rise to 2 types of end product…soft & hard body braided line.
- Soft body eg. YGK, Varivas, Sunline, etc
- coating is very thin enabling PE strands to retain its original soft nature
- greater cast distance due to reduced friction in soft body
- lower abrasion resistance; can be mitigated by having an abrasion leader
- has almost no memory; not as easy to handle, more tangle
- suitable for spinning reel for longer distance cast
- Hard body eg. Fireline, Spiderwire, PowerPro, etc
- great abrasion resistance due to thicker resin coating
- reduced cast distance; higher friction in hard body
- has memory; easier to handle, less tangle
- more suitable for bait casting reel
Hint: I’m using only soft body line as mine are all spinning reels.
Marking & Color Coding
- Jigging lines are nowadays mostly color coded in section to represent a certain length eg. 10m or 50m. This is useful when you want to know how deep you’ve dropped your jig OR at what depth is the fish biting. When you hooked a fish at a certain depth, in your next drop you can send your jig 10m past that hit point & jig up again hoping to hit another fish.
- Popping/casting lines are similarly marked eg. in black over a metre, to indicate a certain length of line. This can give a rough indication of line cast out or how far out is the fish biting.
- As mentioned in Tackle Care, rinse your line in freshwater after each fishing session especially in saltwater to prolong lifespan of your braided lines. I prefer to either run line thru running warm water (short storage) or soak the plastic hand spool in water after transferring line from the reel (long storage).
- When rinsing line, check for knots which have to be removed or fraying which section has to be cut off or entire set of line replaced.
- Ensure lines are dried thoroughly before storing in a cool dry place. Never expose line to hot sun over long periods.
- For old lines which are still in good condition, you may want to re-coat line with Varivas PE Spray to protect & smoothen its contact with the guides for better casting distance.
Following are some brands of braided line I’ve trusted & been using for many years for luring, jigging & popping which you can use as reference when choosing yours.
How to Spool Braided Line onto Spinning Reel?
There are many schools of thought on this subject you can find in the web as well as among anglers. After thorough research & discussion, I believe I’ve found the answer for spinning reel. And only realized after all these years, I’ve not been doing it the right way!
If axes are perpendicular ie at 90 degrees to each other, it means the line is twisted to a certain extent (which should be avoided) from its original orientation before entering the destination spool. And many are doing it this way, including myself in the past.
To illustrate my point, refer to image of yellow PE line being transferred onto a bait caster. In this example, you can see the axis of the source spool (retail clear plastic spool) is parallel to the axis of the destination spool (reel spool). This is the correct way without any twisting.
Matters become complicated when it comes to spinning reel as you cannot load your line similar to the illustration above unless you have a dedicated set up customized to do this (like the retail shops in Singapore using a customized set up loading line onto spinning reel when customers buy the line from them). In those set up’s, the spool is removed from the spinning reel & secured by a vice-like device in such a way that its axis is parallel to that of the retail plastic spool. The device then rotates to spin the reel spool to load in the line.
Cannot do this at home…unless you have a customized set up
Axes at 90 degrees creating twisting in transfer
Thus for spinning reel, another option is needed for one to do it alone at home:
- Secure your reel to a rod
- Remove PE line from the retail spool & thread it thru the last 2 or last lowest guide of your rod towards your reel
- Tie line to reel arbor using expandable knot so it can be removed if needed
- Place retail spool on the floor (or have someone hold it) such that line is coming off the spool in an anti-clockwise manner. If not, turn the spool around to have line coming out the way intended.
- For a right-hander, use your right hand to hold the rod (somewhere above the reel) & thumb/fingers to hold the line providing tension
- Use your left hand to turn the reel handle to wind in the line
- Sit in a comfortable position to do this either on a chair or the floor whichever way preferred
- To prevent friction which can burn your thumb/fingers, wear a cotton gloves ( Amazon / eBay ) on your right hand to grip the running line. Spray some Varivas PE Spray ( eBay ) onto the cotton if needed to further reduce friction & coat the line at the same time.
This can be done comfortably in a sitting position. Adjust how far out you want the line to be away from you by using lowest 1, 2 or more guides
Some will now ask why must line be coming off retail spool in an anti-clockwise manner. If you place retail spool in front of reel & look from the rear/behind of reel towards the front at the retail spool, you’ll notice a spinning reel is winding in line in an anti-clockwise manner. Thus in order to have line coming onto the reel spool without any twist, it should similarly come off the retail spool in an anti-clockwise direction. This will still follow the concept of both axes being parallel to each other.
Placing retail spool in front of reel & looking from the rear of the reel towards the front. Line should be rotating anti-clockwise onto reel spool & off retail spool
In removing line from reel spool (eg. for soaking), I follow the same concept by placing reel with its side facing me. Line is then wind onto big plastic hand spool ( Amazon / eBay ) with the spool drag set at free spool.
Hint: When providing tension to line during transfer, DO NOT use leather, Kevlar gloves, etc except soft cotton gloves ( Amazon / eBay ) preferably sprayed with some Varivas PE Spray ( eBay ) to reduce friction. Other materials in gloves will produce excessive friction transferring much heat onto your PE line altering its properties. I’ve seen test done rubbing leather gloves on PE lines which snapped under tension thereafter.
All the best,
PS: Please leave a comment if any information in this site is inaccurate or incorrect…I’m learning too 🙂