Understanding Fishing Lines

The perfect line, that will enable an angler to fish with every style and in any type of water, does not exist as yet. Developments in recent years have given a much greater range of lines to choose from and these in-clude nylon monofilament, braided nylon, lead-cored, steel, and the traditional silk line (now only found as a fly line for the dry fly purist). Naturally each of these lines has its uses, and although the vast majority are of monofilament, there is a strong case for braided lines with certain styles of fishing.


Braided lines are twisted from polyester fibre, a synthetic sub-stance manufactured from raw materials which include coal, water and petroleum. It is the petroleum ingredient that in part accounts for the steady rise in price of this line over the past few years. Like monofilament, the polyester fibre is extruded under pressure, but any similarity ends here.

Braided lines are soft, pliable, and can be purchased in continuous lengths of up to 1,000 yards. Unlike monofilament, however, the line is not translucent. Nor is it now manufactured in breaking strains of less than 10 lb – a great loss to the angling world. In the sizes sold, its circumference is greater than that of monofilament, and it naturally follows that less line can be wound on to a normal reel which is, of course a severe disadvantage.

Braided line possesses numerous advantages, not least its complete lack of spring. This makes it easy to wind from the spool on to the reel, it knots easily, the knots pulling firmly together without slipping, making for greater security. Regardless of the material, there must be some loss of strength with every knot that is tied, but the seriousness of this is much less acute with a braided line. The lines are hardly affected by water and have a high resistance to sunlight, mildew and rot, needing only an occasional wipe with a soft cloth to remove fine particles of grit that have a damagingly abrasive ef-fect on fishing lines.

The stretch problem

Every angler who has tried to pull his hook free from a snag will vouch for the fact that monofilament line stretches astronomically under pressure. In fact, it stretches by 17 to 80 per cent, depending on its method of manufacture. Over-stretching leads to distortion in the line’s shape, and causes permanent weakness, often over considerable distances. In use, the braided line will only stretch a maximum of 10 per cent, and only does this in the period immediately before breaking occurs. Thus the risk of permanent damage is small.

This almost complete lack of stretch is a great help in preventing line from jamming on the spool of your reel, where a direct pull with monofilament line can often force one strand under others below it and bring the whole reel to a halt.

Undoubtedly, it is the stretch fac-tor that has endeared the braided line to anglers who need a strong and reliable line for really hard work.

While the initial outlay may cause many anglers to think twice before purchasing a braided line, there is a strong case for its use as a longterm money-saver.

Terylene and Dacron lines

It must be noted that braided Terylene and Dacron lines are not suitable for general boat fishing. Their large diameter (even in the lowest breaking strains) and the considerable amount of water the materials absorb, means the boat angler must use much heavier weights than with monofilament. This is especially true when a bait must be kept in one place, hard on the bottom. Such is the material’s resistance to moving water that a neap tide will cause the line to ‘belly’ out. This has the immediate effect of putting the angler out of touch with the fish. When a spring tide is runn-ing (which at the very minimum means the water is moving at 3 to 4 knots) a braided line’s resistance is sufficient to lift 2 lb or more of lead away from the bottom, and shift your bait many hundreds of yards away from its intended fishing position. The biggest springs, which in many places around the British Isles create a water speed of at least 7 knots, therefore make it impossible to fish with braided lines.

While monofilament line is in-credibly resistant to damage over rough ground, the same is not true of braided lines. They fray very easily, and it is vitally important to examine carefully the final 10ft frequently during a trip. If it shows signs of wear, the suspect length must be cut away.

Unlike the much thinner monofilaments which can be joined very easily, tying lengths of braided line together inevitably results in a large knot, which can jam on the tip ring.