Put your line to work for you

As I prepare for the next Elite season this winter, I'm spooling my reels with braid, fluorocarbon and monofilament.

Generally, I use fluorocarbon in most applications, but rely on monofilament for topwaters and braid when I need strong, small-diameter line.

Some anglers say they don't use fluorocarbon or braid because it costs more than monofilament, but they're overlooking the fact that those lines have valuable performance characteristics and don't lose their inherent properties like mono does. As a result, the cost is similar because you don't go through as much line in a season.

Mono is a lot more fragile. It breaks down easier, is more susceptible to sunlight and weather changes and needs to be replaced frequently. Anyone who leaves mono-spooled reels on the deck through the hot periods of summer is taking a chance on line failure.

I get my line in bulk spools of at least 1,000 yards and carry it with me to all of the tournaments. While it may be pricey initially, it saves money in the long run.

I keep my bulk spools and spooled reels in a house closet to extend their shelf life. When stored properly, bulk spools won't go bad before you use them up.

I'm a firm believer in changing line often. I respool daily during tournaments. That may not be possible for recreational anglers, but caring for your line should be taken seriously. It's a variable you can control and removes any concern about line breakage because of damage that may have occurred the day before.

However, I only replace the top 75 yards on most of my reels, with crankbait reels being the exception since I can make longer casts with big crankbaits. Otherwise, putting new line deeper on the spool is a waste of money.

I know where the 75-yard mark is because I measured it and placed tape over the line backing below it. I strip down to the tape, tie the line around the spool and begin winding it on until the reel is completely full.

After a day on the water, I place my rods on the side of the boat, tighten the drag on my reels (to avoid backlashes), disengage the spools and pull off the old line from all of the rods simultaneously. When it gets down to the tape, I know I'm where I need to respool.

Another thing you can do to get more value from braid is to spool old braid from one reel onto another. That puts the used portion on the bottom of the new spool and the unused portion on top. It's like having new line.

As I respool and get the reel 90 percent full, I spray the line with my line conditioner and then fill the spool the rest of the way. The line will absorb the conditioner, relaxing it and allowing longer casts. I'll treat it again a couple of times during a day of fishing.

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