Braided Lines and Top Shots
In 1994, Russ Izor, the "Father of Spectra" would change the way we
fished forever. Spiderwire sponsored, "Lets's Talk Fishin", a radio show,
that Russ and I would co-host for twenty two weeks. We explored all
aspects of fishing the new braided line and found some tremendous
applications for specific fisheries. Unfortunately we face a lot of opposition
from out sport fishing fleet and tackle shops. It was difficult for
me to relinquish my monofilament line, yet, over the years, I now have
braided line on every reel I have, including my fly reels. The impact of
this line and ongoing utilizations is astounding. Russ and I, as sport
boat captains, always advocated changing your mono every trip as
"cheap" insurance. I've got braided line backing on my reels that is
sixteen years old, and it break tests the same as the day I spooled it on.
So, if you amortized the cost over sixteen years, it lessons the sticker
shock you get when you first put braided line on your reel. IGFA records have been set thanks to braided line. The same captains, that cursed the line in the early years, no longer have to throw "back up rods" in the water, or jump into a skiff to chase down fish for fear of being spooled.
The thinner diameter with greater strength allows you more line capacity with a smaller, more manageable and comfortable reel. Braided line has no stretch, which gives you greater sensitivity and quicker hook sets. It will not absorb water, in turn, reduces line drag from water weight. It allows versatility of changing conditions, by changing short top shots (under 80#'s) with quick Uni to Uni knots. Other connections include: Serves, loop to loop wind-ons, and above 80# fluorocarbon, the Sato Crimp System.
Make certain that your braided line is put on your reel with a line machine that can exert higher pressure on the spool to pack the line correctly. Be careful of abrasion. This will weaken and break your line. I advocate lightweight roller guides to take away the heat from guide friction and abrasion,
and for better casting and lifting properties.
Short top shots of fluorocarbon range from as short as three feet to as long as twenty five feet. Keep in mind, both the braided and fluorocarbon lines have very little elongation (stretch) so use a more parabolic rod or one line class down from what you would normally use for monofilament line. The quick funs of a fish or surge (rock) of the boat in the trough will break lines or pull hooks if you do not address this.
Adapting these new smaller and lighter systems will give you more enjoyment and efficiency on those treasured days on the water.
Rod Angles and Lifting Efficiency
In the early nineties, we started quantifying the amount of rod pressures we generated at different lifting angles. We had hoped that anglers would take note of how much more fish fighting efficiency you got out of keeping your rod at a lower angle to the water. As a sport boat captain, we inherently
knew our fish came up quicker with lower rod angles. Hook sets and fighting fish with the rod behind your head, creates wild, splashing for sensationalism
on T.V., but it's a horrible way to teach our angling crowd how to fish.
Our study on rod angles (done with a 30 lb. graphite rod) 30 degree
angle puts the stress on the line and reel (drag). You will see that
this angle offers the astute angler the maximum amount of pressure
you can generate (62 lbs.).
At 45 degrees, the line and the butt section of the rod get the lions
share of the stress (45 lbs.). 90 degrees has the butt and tip sharing the same stress (this angle gives the rod 12 lbs. of pressure).
A good majority of the fisher people fight fish at 150 degrees, where the midsection and tip of the rod bear the main part of the stress (6.8 lbs.).
180 degrees (high stick, we do not have pictures of this) is the danger zone, where many a rod tip section has broken. Lifting power is 6.2 lbs, 1/10th of the power that you get at 30 degrees.
Another huge attribute of fishing the rod at a lower angle is that the fish circle up in a much tighter diameter, keeping you out of tangles. As you raise your rod angle, the spiraling diameter widens, along with the probability of tangling with twenty other circling fish. A quick and smooth short stroke with any of the new high speed, high torque, or two speed reels can retrieve up to four feet of line per crank. If you time your cranking with the movement of the swell, holding as you go up and cranking as you go down in the trough, you'll retrieve substantially more line.
This positive gain is attained by the lack of elongation (stretch) of both the braided line with the fluorocarbon top shot. I designed these graphite rods with a secondary shut off, so I do not sacrifice my recoil. The quicker recoil of the rod keeps the fish coming at you, never getting a chance to get their head down. If they are swimming at you, all you need to do is keep up with the cranking. Also, the secondary shut off stage in the rod will alleviate any surge by the boat or by the fish sounding suddenly. This is where conventionally fast action rods either break lines or pull hooks. If you follow my tips on rod angles and pressures, you should land more fish in less time, with less fatigue.