The popularity of braided line (often referred to as simply ‘braid’) by UK sea anglers is a perfect example of how developments in sea fishing tackle are constantly moving forward. In previous generations braided line was thick and bulky, meaning it could only be used for boat fishing where casting distance was not important. However, the manufacture of braided line has advanced so far that today this type of line is extremely low diameter while also being very strong so it can be used for shore casting. Indeed, many anglers are reaching casting distances with braid far in excess of what they could have achieved with traditional monofilament. Furthermore, the low diameter of braid means that it cuts through tide and it is also stretch free (monofilament can stretch by up to thirty per cent) meaning that anglers using braid are more in touch with what is happening at the end of their line. The increasing use of braided line can be seen as something of a revolution in UK sea angling, but there are still some drawbacks to using this type of line and it certainly does not suit all anglers.
The Development of Braided Line
The first braided lines used by anglers were very different to modern braid. Made from polyester fibre past braided lines were not specifically made for angling. The book A Complete Guide to Fishing from 1979 states that braided line is only manufactured in breaking strains of 101lb or greater and “its circumference is greater than that of monofilament” (p 214). This meant that this type of line was only used for boat fishing, and anglers had to use very large high-capacity reels to be able to fit enough of the very thick braid onto the spool. However, the stretch-free nature of this line meant that anglers were prepared to put up with its drawbacks as bite detection was significantly improved and they were much more in touch with what was happening to their bait or lure on the seabed.
Advancements in modern manufacturing processes have seen the quality braided line improve greatly: strong breaking strains have been maintained while the diameter of braided line has been significantly reduced. Simple polyester is now no longer used (apart from in ultra-cheap braided lines which should be very much avoided) and instead braided line is made with modern, man-made fibres such as Dyneema® and Spectra which are spun through a machine known as a spinneret and then intertwined together.
This creates a fishing line that is extremely strong and stretch free and yet also very low diameter – the table below shows the typical difference in diameter between braided line and the equivalent strength monofilament.
These developments in braided line have revolutionised shore and boat angling around the world. Boat anglers continue to use braided line, but modern braids are much more effective at cutting through tides than the bulky old braid of previous years. Indeed, braided line has almost completely replaced wire line as the top choice of anglers boat fishing at depths or in situations when the tide is running fast and hard. For shore anglers the reduction in the diameter of braided line means that it can not only be used to cast with, but casting distances with braid are much improved compared to those made with monofilament of an equivalent breaking strain. Braided line is now often used by anglers switching to a longer Continental-style fishing rod, read more on this topic by clicking here.
Advantages, Disadvantages and Myths
- The low diameter of braided line means that casting distances can be improved dramatically. Anglers using braid along with a long, continental style rod often see their casting distances greatly improved with no changes/modification to their casting style – a simple overhead casting style can still see improvements when braid is used.
- The low diameter of braid means that it can cut through tide as it does not catch in the tide in the same way that thicker monofilament does.
- The stretch free nature of braid puts anglers in touch with what is happening at the end of their line. Bite detection is much improved.
- Braid is much stronger than monofilament of the same diameter and also more abrasion resistant
- Because the coils of braided line bed down into each other as it is wound onto a reel many anglers find that they can only use braided line with fixed spool reels. Braid is very difficult to use with multiplier reels.
- The non-stretch properties of braided line can also work against it. Lacking the stretchy give of monofilament means striking can rip the hooks from the mouth of a fish. Incorporating a monofilament shock leader adds a little stretch and helps counteract this.
- The lack of stretch can also be a problem when casting as even the smallest mistake can be greatly amplified. Again most anglers get around this problem by using a monofilament shock leader to absorb the power of casts.
- Braid can cut through hands much more easily than monofilament if anglers are pulling out of a snag or pulling a heavy fish out of the sea.
- Braided line is expensive. It can be triple or quadruple the price of monofilament of an equivalent breaking strain. Many anglers will avoid using braided line if there is a risk of losing a large amount of line when fishing snaggy marks.
Myths: Some anglers think braided line cuts through rod rings. This is only true on extremely cheap and poorly manufactured rods. Any half-decent rods will not see braid cutting through the rings in any way. Braided line also has a reputation of slipping on the spool. If the spool is loaded properly and a sufficient amount of braided line is on the reel then this does not happen.
Why is Braided Line Growing in Popularity?
It is not difficult to see why braided line in growing in popularity throughout the UK. The combination of increased casting distances and better bite detection means that many anglers find that their fishing is vastly improved when switching to braid. This does not mean that braid is the best choice for all anglers. As previously stated, braided line works best with longer, softer action continental rods as these rods go some way towards counteracting the lack of stretch in braid, and are the best way to gain the extra casting distance which braid offers. For this reason, braided line works best for anglers using these types of set up to fish over sandy beaches to lightly mixed ground. Anglers fishing rocky and snaggy areas would probably be best served by sticking to stiffer fishing rods, multiplier reels and 30lb breaking strain monofilament straight through.
Types of Braided Line for UK Sea Fishing
Koike Deep Green Braided Line – This is a great all-round braided line for anglers fishing around the British Isles. This dark green braided line is only 0.18mm in diameter and yet retains a 20lb breaking strain. This braided line is supplied on a 250 metre (273 yard) spool priced at only £14.49.
Spiderwire EZ Braid – Another popular choice. This line is relatively cheap for a braided line from a highly regarded manufacturer and is a good choice for anglers making their first choice of a braided line. It is a high-quality dyneema braided line and is four times the strength of equivalent monofilament. Available in a range of breaking strains, with 15lb and 20lb being the most popular with UK anglers.
Spiderwire Stealth Braid – This braided fishing line is fluro coated making it abrasion-resistant and yet smooth to use. It comes in a range of breaking strains all of the way up to 80lbs, but UK anglers will find most use for the 15lb breaking strain which is only 0.20mm in diameter and the 20b breaking strain which is 0.25mm.
How to Use Braided Line
There are no real secrets to using braided line. As stated it works best with fixed spool reels. This is because braided line smoothly flows off a fixed spool reel, whereas on a multiplier reel the coils of line bind down into each other potentially causing problems when casting. Because braided line is so thin it takes a very large amount to fill up a standard-sized fixed spool reel. For this reason many manufacturers make special shallow braid spools that can be filled with 200 – 300 yards of very low diameter braid. The Penn Surfblaster 8000 is an example of this as most retailers sell it with two spools – one standard spool which is designed for monofilament line and another shallow braid spool. Anglers who want to use braid but do not have specialist braid spools can always fill up a standard spool with backing monofilament to avoid having to fill the entire spool with expensive braid.
Some anglers are confused over whether a monofilament shock leader needs to be used with braid. If a full-sized beachcaster is being used to cast 4 – 8oz weights then using with braided line a shock leader is highly advisable (and considered essential by some) as the stretch-free nature of braid amplifies and compounds any mistakes which are made in the cast. Incorporating a monofilament shock leader avoids this problem and also adds a stretch during the cast, absorbing some of the impact of a mistake. As stated the lack of stretch in braid means that striking in a conventional manner can potentially rip the hooks out of the mouth of any fish which has shown an interest in the bait. When using braid many anglers, therefore, modify the way they strike to a much less energetic strike to avoid hooks being pulled out of fish. This is of course a process of trial and error for anglers using braid and working out exactly how to strike and hook fish with braid is something that all anglers have to learn on an individual basis. While monofilament shock leaders are important with full-sized beachcasters anglers using braided line to fish using lures with small and light spinning rods (where much less energetic casts and much lighter weights are used) often forgo the monofilament leader and simply use braid straight through.
Using braided line does take some getting used to. Many have lost fish due to striking too hard, and even pulling out of snags is different as braided line will not stretch at all and then suddenly snap a very different experience to pulling out of a snag with stretchy monofilament line.
Maintenance and Longevity of Braided Line
Braided line is strong and fairly abrasion-resistant and should last anglers for a considerable amount of time, somethimg which anglers are glad to hear considering the cost of braid. Of course, it is impossible to say exactly how long braided line will last an individual angler as it depends on the type of fishing that is being carried out and how much stress and strain the line will be under and how much damage it will take from rocks and rough ground. Just like monofilament line braid should be examined for nicks, tears and damage on a regular basis and the line should be changed if it is thought to be past its best. Anglers should rinse a spool containing braided line in cold water after it has been used for sea fishing. Specialist braid scissors can also be purchased which are specifically designed to cut braided line, with many anglers who are planning on using braided line investing in these. Have a look at NGT Braid Scissors which can be bought from Sea Angling Shop for £2.69.
See the article on Long Continental Style Rods for ideas on rod and reel set ups which are suited to use with braided line.