Battle Lines with James Niggemeyer

In my experience, one of the most common mistakes of casual anglers is not matching their equipment to the technique they're using.

James Niggemeyer

In my experience, one of the most common mistakes of casual anglers is not matching their equipment to the technique they're using. For example, some folks throw a shaky head on 12-pound-test line and a baitcaster. While you may get bit doing this, you're leaving fish on the table.

When you're throwing a shaky head, you're typically fishing a tougher bite with clearer water. In these conditions, the fish can be finicky, so you need everything in your favor that you can get. When you throw line heavier than about 10-pound test, you're killing the action of the lure. It's muted. I use 7- or 8-pound test. I'll go to 10-pound if I'm fishing where there are lots of big fish.

On top of that, the larger diameter line tied to — I should say bolted to — that 1/8- or 1/16-ounce jighead and finesse-style worm just doesn't look natural in the water. Even though you may be using fluorocarbon, the thicker line shows up. You're giving the fish every opportunity to deny your offering.

Another situation where using the correct line is critical is when you're throwing deep diving crankbaits. Once again, you're leaving fish on the table by not optimizing your setup.

I stick with 10- and 12-pound-test fluorocarbon for deep cranking. If I'm fishing little flat-sided balsa baits, I may go to 8-pound, but for the most part it's 10- and 12-pound test. The reason you want to use as light of a line as possible is to minimize the drag in the water. This allows it to run to it's full potential. Heavier lines kill the action, like on a shaky head. With lighter line, you can throw your bait farther which means it will get deeper and be in the strike zone longer.

For my topwater fishing, I stay away from fluorocarbon for the most part and use either monofilament, braid or a combination of the two.

I like braid when I'm on a lake with a lot of grass. I'm not even talking about with frogs over pads or anything like that. I like braid with any bait like a Strike King Spit-N-King or a walking bait. This is because you're fishing them around targets. If the water's stained or dirty, I'll tie the braid directly to the bait.

If the water's clear, I'll use a 6-foot monofilament leader and connect them with a double uni knot. I can still cast the lure a mile, and I don't have to swing like I'm hitting a home run. You just sweep it, then start reeling and the braid will sink those trebles in there really well. Also, I use braid when there's big fish in a lake like when I used to guide on Lake Fork. I like 28- to 30-pound test.

I firmly believe that if you match your line to your technique, you'll increase your catch and have more fun on the water. 

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