Everyone knows that your fishing line is the most critical link between you and the fish. The slightest imperfection can mean the difference between landing that big fish or being spun into a fit of foul obscenities. After all, is there a more empty feeling than breaking off a big fish, especially on those days when the bites are few and far between?
But caring for your line is probably more about lacking laziness than anything. We get in a hurry, racing from spot to spot, and we often just try to get our rods strapped and ready to run as quickly as possible. Those few seconds of haste can really damage your line and cause a weak link in the chain between you and the fish.
So we thought we should give guys a heads up on some of the common ways fishing line is damaged. Here are 10 things we commonly find anglers guilty of when it comes to compromising fishing line.
1. Missing an eyelet – This seems like such an easy one to overcome but we’ve found with the emergence of microguides that the frames have small gaps between the frame and the actual eyelet. And the eyelet itself is very minuscule. The combination has lead to several rods we’ve seen over the last few months actually have the line running between the frame and the eyelet rather than through the eyelet. We don’t have to tell you how scraping on the sharp edge of those frames can damage your line.
2. Lures strapped too tight – Adding a hook hanger to rods really gave anglers a way to store their rods neatly with baits already attached. However we’ve seen a lot of rods stored in this manner with big kinks in the line. The reason is they attach the lure to the rod and then ratchet down the reel as tight as possible. The top eyelet is pinching a groove in the line as the rod is stored. The longer it is stored, the worse the kink can be, and now there is a weak spot in the line. The solution is to simply not fasten the line down so tight. With the advent of Rod Gloves you really don’t have to tighten everything down so much. Even if the lure pops loose, the Rod Glove keeps it in place.
3. Bird’s nests – we all get them, even professionals. If you fish enough, you’re going to get that “professional overrun” on your reel. It’s no big deal, but as you pull and pick it at, it often pulls loops in the line into points, and the pull against them again creases the line and makes a weak spot. It also will lead to further backlashes as that crease has a tendency to resist as it goes through the line guide. Obviously reels have a lot of mechanisms to control backlashes, but nothing works better than your thumb. The tendency to let the reel handle the line is what leads to backlashes. Train your thumb to be more sensitive and be mindful of changing situations like turning into the wind when casting to avoid more overruns.
4. Rushing knots – This is one place a lot of compromises in fishing line occur. A lot of anglers will get in a hurry to get a new lure tied on or the same lure retied (which is good practice) that they don’t wet the knot and cinch it down quickly causing a friction and burning that can break down the strength of the line. When tying your knots, avoid twisting or overlap in your knots, pull them tight slowly to avoid friction and always wet your line before cinching it.
5. Not retying often enough – We have a tendency when the fishing is fast and furious to just keep casting without ever checking our line. That can be a real problem when the bigger fish are biting. The deeper a fish takes a lure in its mouth, the more the line has opportunity to rub on the rough teeth. Just pinch the line between your fingers and run it from the lure up a foot or two and check for nicks after every fish to avoid that errant break off.
6. Not changing enough – Fishing line doesn’t last forever. That mono from last season is not going to be as good as it was last season. The cheaper the line, the more you need to change it too. Today’s more advanced lines like braid don’t have to be changed as much as fluorocarbon and monofilament. The weather, heat and light can all have effects on the line. If your line is feeling brittle, breaking easily and not casting smoothly you need to put fresh line on before you have a costly mishap.
7. Stored under lights – heat can have effects on fishing line, but studies have shown that light seems to do even more to breakdown fishing line. If at all possible, try to store all your fishing line in a cool dark space. That will prolong its life and keep it fishing like new.
8. Hooking lures to your reel – This is another one of those quick fixes we do when we’re running around on the lake. Not only will the lures scratch your reel, but they digs and nicks in the reel can compromise fishing line. Not to mention a hook swiping back and forth against your spool of line and line guide has the potential to knick your line as you bounce down the lake. Use the hook hanger on the rod. A scratched rod is better than a nicked line.
9. Reeling lures into top guide – this may be one of the biggest pet peeves we have with anglers not caring for their equipment. Nothing will damage a top guide more than reeling a lure into and running down the lake. With advances in weights like Tungsten, a very hard object like tungsten rattling against ceramic as you run down the lake is a recipe for cracking, chipping and breaking of the top guide on your rod. And nothing cuts line like a damaged top guide.
10. Overlapping line – this is a little less common, but we’ve seen instances where line spooled on a reel has been a combination of loose and tight spooling and actually spooled on lopsided so that the line had a tendency to crisscross on top of itself. Then when you wrench it down under the weight of a heavy fish or snag, the line digs into itself making creases and kinks that compromise the line. Try to keep even tension on the line when spooling and keep your tension centered on your rod to get a nice even spool on your reel.
Obviously there are other ways that fishing line is compromised, like fishing heavy cover. It’s imperative to check for nicks, creases and imperfections in your line. If it starts behaving differently like not casting as smoothly or backlashing more, it’s time for a fresh spool of line.
What other ways have you found that line gets damaged?