The new breed

A new fishing line is made by braiding several strands of super-strong fiber together, the same fiber used in bullet-proof vests. It is extremely sensitive to the slightest tug and will surprise fishermen used to more elastic lines.

Stronger than steel…

Powerful enough to stop a speeding locomotive…

Able to yank big fish out of the heaviest cover…


Actually, it’s a new breed of premium fishing lines made by braiding fibers that are five to ten times stronger than steel and used in the manufacture of bullet-resistant vests. These lines have high strength, low diameter, no stretch, and tremendous sensitivity. And they probably represent the future as far as fishing lines go.

The braided fishing line isn’t new. Braided Dacron line existed decades ago but faded with the arrival of nylon monofilament, which helped advance the acceptance of spinning reels. What makes these new braided lines different are the synthetic materials they are made of and the fact that over a dozen companies are now producing some version of the high-tech braided line.

Most are only available in 30- to 80- pound breaking strengths. Because lighter lines are more difficult and expensive to braid, only three are presently produced in strengths under 20 pounds. Yet, the high-strength lines are visually deceiving, a 50-pound line may have the equivalent diameter of a nylon monofilament with 20-pound breaking strength or less. A 20-pound braided line that I fished last year was said to have an equivalent diameter of 8 pounds. Low diameter is a factor in casting performance as well as reel spool capacity

These new lines are much more sensitive than their predecessors, greatly enhancing your ability to detect strikes. Every time your lure ticks a rock or strand of weed, you’ll feel it. When you first start using the line you’ll often set the hook when there is no fish because you felt something that you weren’t used to feeling before.

The lines also enhance your ability to feel the action of some lures, especially swimming plugs and spinnerbaits. If you’re trolling, this sensitivity is also a plus. Many trollers watch their rod tips to gauge if the lures are working properly, and the new braided lines make that task easier.

Because these lines have near-zero stretch, they react quicker than any nylon monofilament, and this should turn more strikes into hookups. But if a small fish strikes fairly close to the boat, don’t be surprised if you jerk it right out of the water when you set the hook. The line has no give. It’s powerful.

Fishermen have grown accustomed to using nylon monofilament lines that stretch up to 30 percent. That may seem like a rubber band, but elasticity has the benefit of allowing people to rear back and make a sledgehammer hook-set under certain conditions. If you do that with these lines, especially the strong ones, you could break a rod (some people have), particularly if the rod is stiff and the length of the line was short. This is probably not common, though; in six months of testing, I have yet to break a rod.

The strength of this line can be a definite factor in playing a fish. I’ve pulled the hook out of a few fish that would have been caught had they not overmuscled. The line and rod didn’t give and the drag was set a little tight, so under the pressure, the hook pulled out. It might also have straightened out. But this is good news when it comes to hard-fighting, deep-boring fish which you’ll be able to land in less time – an advantage if they are to be released – because you don’t have to counter the effect of line stretch if you use reel drag properly.

You’ll also lose fewer lures with braided lines because getting hung up is not the problem it is with nylon monofilaments. With braided lines, you tighten the drag and pull the stuck lure free, period. You may straighten the hood, or bust a plastic plug bill, but you’ll get unsnagged.

There are disadvantages to the new braided lines. Knot strength is poorer than it is with nylon monofilament. Some popular conventional knots slip, and care has to be taken in tying the right knot. The popular Improved Clinch, a jam knot, will slip, and shouldn’t be used. The Palomar Knot works well on these lines as a terminal connection, and a Uni Knot is good for terminal and line-to-line connections. Also, braided lines are annoyingly difficult to cut with clippers, needle-nose pliers, and standard fishing pliers. You need scissors, a sharp pocket knife, or pliers with a fine and sharp cutting edge.

Some of these lines are also not as castable as unbraided, smooth, nylon monofilament. The flat-braided line has a tendency to sail. Some don’t pack on the reel uniformly, so the line can dig into itself on the spool, creating minor backlashes in bait-casting reels.

The new lines also pick up a lot of water, a potential drawback for cold weather fishing. Unlike nylon, which soaks up water and actually becomes weaker in a wet state, these high-tech fibers are not absorbent. But the braids catch water and bring it to the spool, so the reel, your casting fingers, and possibly your hand get wet. I’ve used braided lines in cold weather and they did contribute to cold hands; as of this writing, I have not used them in freezing air and water conditions so I don’t know if water pickup will mean a greater likelihood of having frozen rod guides and reels parts.

A debatable issue regarding braided lines is abrasion resistance. Some manufacturers tout their braided product as being more abrasion resistant than nylon monofilament because of the number of carriers and strands of fiber. Some anglers who have used these lines extensively report tremendous durability. But I’m dubious, having had several big fish break heavy braided line that had become worn on rocks.

I know of no way to scientifically test abrasion resistance under fishing conditions. But I have observed numerous experiments in technical labs where braided Dacron line and an equivalent nylon monofilament were run continuously over sandpaper at the same time. The braided Dacron parted quickly; the mono lasted many times longer. Some of the new braided lines are coated, perhaps to reduce guide friction. It has long been a maxim that the higher the diameter of a line, the greater its resistance to abrasion, so it could be that strong lines resist abrasion better simply because they’re thicker.

Beware of line wrapping on the rod tips. No stretch braided lines could cause a rod tip to break if you accidentally get a wrap around the tip and set the hook on a fish. This can also happen with other lines, but the unforgiving nature of these braided lines seems to make this more of a potential problem. Think of what could happen if you got it wrapped around your finger at the wrong time!

Also, beware of overpowering terminal tackle. Last summer I lost several big fish while using reliable wire leaders when the snap opened. When it happened for the third time I realized that my braided line had a 50-pound-test rating and the brand-new snaps, a 30-pound rating. Still another disadvantage: the new braided lines are hard to test for breaking strength on standard measuring devices and don’t break consistently at the same points. The International Game Fish Association, the repository of world records, is looking for a new way of testing these lines. Until it finds one, they are putting record applications that involve high-tech braided line on hold. High-tech braided lines have the potential for changing some aspects of your fishing, from hook setting in freshwater (a short set may prove best) to the way you play fish. I think they are most applicable for certain types of bass fishing pitching and flipping in heavy cover and using some surface lures), some types of trolling (flatlining and using diving planers), and for vertical jigging in deep water. They are said to be great for bowfishing They may be useful for big-game trolling in saltwater, and they’d make an excellent backing for the fly line on fly reels because of their low diameter and lack of memory. They are a very expensive product, but if they prove to be durable, they’ll be worth the money.

But they are not the perfect line for everyone or for all types of fishing, although it’s possible that future technological advances will make them so. And they raise a serious question about sportsmanship: Is it necessary or sporting to use 30- to 80-pound line, albeit of fine diameter, for catching freshwater fish, most of which weigh about a pound? Some anglers have used excessive firepower on their quarry for decades. I hope this new generation of the fishing line doesn’t promote more of that.

High-tech fibers do not hold knots as well as nylon monofilaments. You can’t get 100-percent breaking strength from many knots. This may not be a critical issue when using extremely strong lines on small fish, but you should be attentive to it and try self-tightening instead of jam knots. The popular Improved Clinch, a jam knot, will slip, and shouldn’t be used. The Palomar Knot works well on these lines as a terminal connection, and a Uni Knot is good for terminal and line-to-line connections. DuPont is selling a knot glue for use with braided Kevlar, but I don’t see glues as a good remedy in terms of time, expense, or mess. Some people report using a clear plastic sleeve on the line to tie full-strength knots.

Most of the new breed of braided lines are made with Spectra, a synthetic fiber developed by AlliedSignal, a Virginia-based conglomerate, and introduced commercially in 1985. Spectra, and its clones Dyneema (made in the Netherlands) ad Tekmillon (made in Japan), are referred to as gel-spun polyethylene by some, and “ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene” by engineers. AlliedSignal makes this fiber but does not make fishing line. They sell Spectra to companies who braid it for themselves or for others who put private labels on it.

A different high-tech braided line comes from DuPont and is made of Kevlar, an aramid fiber. DuPont makes Kevlar and sells Kevlar fibers to many companies. It is the only firm that produces a braided Kevlar fishing line.

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