Jack Wollitz: Getting a line on fishing equipment

I am pretty sure most of us will find something to do this weekend other than fishing.

Until the weather moderates or our lakes freeze over, we will bide our time. Soon we’ll be back on Mosquito, Lake Erie or other favorite fishing holes, but in the meantime, we can continue tinkering with our stuff to be ready when the call comes.

Preparation is key to success in the new season. In previous columns, we’ve discussed the fine points of matching fishing waters with the season and stocking the best lures for optimum results.

Thorough prep can go for naught, however, if the line on which you are relying to present your baits and battle fish fails to get the job done effectively. The best advice for all anglers – beginners to pros – is to start the year with fresh line spooled on all reels.

If you haven’t already stripped last season’s line from your reels, you have a very important job to complete before you go to your favorite lake this spring.

Fresh line is every bit as important as sharp hooks and smooth reels. More days are ruined by failed fishing lines than just about any other angling calamity.

New line helps minimize the chances of failure. But choosing the right line can be a challenge. Monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided lines are the most popular categories, but many people are unfamiliar with each variety’s performance characteristics.

Monofilament is the line with which most anglers grew up. Mono is a single strand of extruded nylon, strong for its size, lighter than the water it displaces and nearly invisible in most water conditions. It also is relatively limp, so it tends to uncoil easily.

Mono is a reliable choice for most fishing applications – from bluegills and crappies to walleyes and bass. Because mono is lighter than the water it displaces, it will float and thus is a very good line for topwater lures.

Anglers can chose small-diameter monofilament lines in 4- to 6-pound test for panfish and larger sizes up to 20- or 25-pound test to cast to larger fish and heavy cover.

Fluorocarbon lines are extruded from polymers heavier than water and thus are more effective in presenting lures to underwater targets. They tend to be stiffer than mono lines of the same diameter and strength, so they have more “memory” and can be a bit more difficult to manage.

Fluorocarbons are super sensitive, enabling anglers to feel bites and bottom contact more readily than they would detect them with mono lines. They also stretch less than mono, so anglers can get solid hooksets in most situations.

Braided lines are woven from strands of Kevlar and other super fibers. They are extremely strong for their diameter and have near zero stretch.

Braid works great for solid hooksets in heavy cover where mono and fluoro might break. Braid floats so it is a good choice for topwater presentations where strength is more important than invisibility.

But because it is so strong, braid is difficult to break when your lure becomes snagged, so anglers may be forced to cut their line and leave a long length in the water.

Every effort should be made to retrieve all line — braid, mono and fluorocarbon — to avoid endangering wildlife, snagging other anglers’ lures and wrapping around propeller shafts.

Most lines lose strength as they age and as they run repeatedly through rod guides. Old monofilament and fluorocarbon ought to be stripped now and replaced.

The investment now — $10 or less for a 300-yard filler spool of mono and around $20 for fluoro — will pay dividends in casting, hooking, fighting and ultimately catching fish this spring and summer.


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