Another look at line

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

It seems like this is a good time to review some things about fishing line. The basics are still about the same, but there have been some advancements in the last few years that I think deserve our attention.

First, let me say that I’ve always been a fan of lighter lines. To me, they give you better lure action and a lot more bites. Some of that might be because I fish in clear water most of the time, but that’s not all of it. They produce better in stained water, too. The problem I hear about most often is breakoffs. Set your drag properly and that won’t happen.

Recently, however, I’ve found myself using heavier line. Now, my idea of heavier line will still strike some of you as silly. When I say heavier I mean 12-pound-test for Texas-rigged baits and maybe 14-pound-test if I’m throwing a frog in really heavy cover.

What’s happened is that fishing line has gotten better and more specialized, and almost all of it is thinner so you can get away with heavier stuff.

Maybe the biggest changes have come in fluorocarbon. As recently as two or three years ago much of it was stiff and wire-like. I know there were exceptions, but I see a lot of it in my store and I stand by that statement. Only the very best was worth using.

That’s not true anymore. This new fluorocarbon lines are soft, supple, have little memory and perform as well as most monofilament lines. Some of it has even been engineered to stretch. I’ve found that it’s useful for jigs, Texas-rigged baits and almost anything else you might fish with when you want a sinking line. Heck, it’ll even work with crankbaits when you need a little help getting them down.

Monofilament didn’t get left out of the upgrade, either. They now make a bunch of different types. Some of it has a lot of stretch, and some of it has very little. That can make a heck of a big difference when you want something specialized. It’s tougher, too. Some of the line that’s abrasion-resistant will work in rock and heavy wood.

Unfortunately, braid is still braid. It’s tough and has almost no stretch. The thing I don’t like about it, however, is that it’s visible. No matter what color it is, or how you doctor it up, the fish can still see it from a mile away. In my opinion that’s a serious negative for smallmouth anglers.

When fish see line, they don’t bite as well. I know there are exceptions. One of the obvious ones is when you’re looking for a reaction bite. Still, I don’t like it when my fish can see my line.

What I’m saying is that if you’ve been using the same line for years, you should at least look at what else is available. Buy a small spool of something new and go fishing. You might like the change.

I’m not making specific brand recommendations for a reason. Good line is a little like physical beauty — it’s in the eye of the beholder.