Losing a fish due to a line break has happened to everyone who's ever picked up a rod and reel in pursuit of bass. With today's high-tech lines, many anglers get lulled into the belief that their line is invulnerable to nicks and abrasions.
No fish, whether a keeper or a lunker, should be lost due to poor line maintenance, says Elite Series pro Jeff Kriet, who is fanatical about inspecting his line. Kriet typically reties his knots 15 to 20 times over the course of a tournament day.
"I retie after just about every fish," he says. "I'm constantly feeling my line for any nicks right above the knot. That goes for braided line too, particularly when I'm using Tungsten weights."
An exception to that rule, as Kriet points out, occurred at the last Elite Series regular season tournament at Oneida. "I lost a 4 1/2-pounder because I didn't check my line," he explains. "It was getting close to the end of the day, and I just got lazy. That was a huge mistake and a missed opportunity."
With the amount of wear and tear inflicted on his fishing line over the course of a tournament day, Kriet points out that he will re-spool his reels multiple times over the course of a four-day event. "I'll generally change my line at least every other day during a tournament," he says.
Though he doesn't respool as often with heavier line or braid, he often stretches his line before going out on the water. "A weekend angler who doesn't change line very often ought to tie the end of the line to a boat cleat, back off and stretch it," he explains. "Once you've got it stretched out, reel it back on the spool under a little pressure."
Stretching out spooled line is very important on a spinning reel. "Before I ever make a cast with a spinning rod, I'll stretch the line," Kriet says. "A lot of guys have trouble with line twist on their spinning reel, but doing that first thing in the morning will save a lot of time and effort."
Kriet hears frequent complaints from some casual anglers about line twist and tangles when using spinning reels. "I guarantee that if you'll stretch your line out before you use it, you'll change your outlook on spinning reels," he opines.
"Most guys put too much line on the spool, and the rest don't stretch it out before they use it."
To avoid over-fill, he employs a simple trick. "When I'm filling my spinning reels up with line, I'll get full to the point that it's almost flush with the spool," he explains. "I'll then open the bail up, and if the line 'jumps' off the spool I'll pull off a little line and close the bail again. I'll repeat the process until the line stays flat on the spool."
Storage is an important aspect to line maintenance, though Kriet points out that the solution is to keep it out of the heat. "I just try to keep my line out of extreme heat," he says. "As a general rule of thumb, I try and store my line at room temperature just to be on the safe side."