Get More Mileage From Your Line
By: Tim Allard
Try these easy tips to save money, cast farther, and reduce line-induced headaches.
It Begins with Backing
Unless you deal with long-running fish like salmon, steelhead, or big carp, filling up an entire reel spool with new line is overkill. Instead, add old line as backing to fill the bottom part of the spool you don't rely on, even after your longest cast. This lets you top up two average-sized reels with one filler spool. Or, if replacing line, simply take off only about half to one-third of the old line and leave the rest for backing. Similarly, to add backing to an empty spool, fill roughly the same amount of the spool with older line or leftovers. Once complete, connect the old and new line using back-to-back uni-knots. Closely trim the tag ends so they don't interfere with spooling or casting.
Don't discard long-lasting superlines after one end fades or becomes worn. Instead, rotate it for another season or two of use. Go to a grass field on a windless day. If you don't have a helper to hold the end of the line, tie it to a stable object, start releasing line, and walk until you reach the backing. Cut the knot and return to where you started. Take the original tag end, tie it to your reel and retrieve the line. Voila, a fresh spool. You can also simply top up another reel with the used superline by tying the end of the line from one reel to the other's and reeling it on toward the fresher end. (Note: if the spool wasn't full at the start, remove the old backing and add more before attaching the superline.)
If you think line conditioner is a gimmick, think again. Spray-on treatment with products such as Real Magic or Kevin VanDam's Line and Lure Perfect Cast Line Conditioner can dramatically improve line performance, including increasing casting distance and lessening line spool memory (coiling) and tangles. It also reduces friction, helping extend the line's lifespan. For best results, allow the treatment to soak in. Spray the spool, line, and guides well before an outing.
It's a Snap
Over time, tying knots eats away at your reel's line reserve. Using a snap is an easy way to swap out lures without knot-tying line waste. Snaps also improve the action on most hard-bodied lures (crankbaits, jerkbaits, spoons). Avoid them on finesse presentations, though; the extra hardware might cost you bites from finicky fish.
Tying a fluorocarbon leader to superline has many benefits in finesse jigging situations. It reduces how often you tie the superline, keeping spools filled longer. Another benefit is fluorocarbon is virtually invisible underwater, whereas coloured braid stands out like a thin weed strand, which might affect catch rates in clear, open-water situations. Attach the two ends using back-to-back uni-knots or tie on a small ball bearing swivel to prevent line twist.
Troll Out Twist
Few things impact fishing performance like line twist. Swivels help reduce it, but sometimes it's inevitable. Here's a trick to take out twist while in your boat. Remove all hardware from your line. Get your boat on plane and going at a decent speed. Then, let out the string (at least two times your maximum casting distance). The line unravels as it's pulled through the water, eliminating the twist within a few minutes. Retrieve the line, applying tension as needed with your finger tips.
Starting with the July 2008 issue of Ontario OUT OF DOORS and as part of our re-vamped website we will be offering a "Web Exclusive" article once a month to be featured exclusively on www.ontariooutofdoors.com with "Get More Mileage From Your Line"