By Brandon White
So far in this series we’ve covered a high level overview of light tackle fishing for striped bass, in Parts 2 and 3 we went into detail about light tackle spinning and bait-casting rods, and in the last two articles covered spinning and bait-casting reels. In Part 5 we’ll cover fishing line.
There are essentially two types of fishing line you can use to spool your reel, monofilament (or mono as its often referred to by fishermen) and braid. The key with light tackle fishing for stripers is that we’re using relatively small reels in the 2000-4000 size range. These smaller reels only have so much capacity; the challenge is getting as much line as possible on the reel in the desired pound test. Practically speaking striped bass usually do not make super long runs compared to other species, so it’s not necessary to have several hundred yards of line on your spool. Having said that, I like to have as much line as possible because sometimes you get snagged and have to break off line and the last thing you want to have to do while fishing is re-spool your reel. Ideally I shoot for at least 100 yards of line on my reels, if I can get 150-175 yards all the better.
Monofilament vs. Braid
Monofilament has been the stable type for fishing line for decades. It’s made by combining any number of synthetic materials, each manufacturer has their own secret recipe, melting them into a gel and then pushing the gel through small tubes that decrease in diameter while they are cooled.
Using braided lines is a relatively new idea for light tackle fishing. Braided lines are made by weaving fibers of man-made materials together (i.e. fibers such as spectra or micro-dyneema) to produce one continuous strand of line. Because the fibers used are strong and thin the final product allows for a stronger pound test in a thinner diameter when compared to monofilament.
While the major difference between monofilament and braid is diameter/strength ratio, the other big difference is line stretch. Mono gives and can stretch a large amount vs. braid, which has very little to no stretch. I prefer the no stretch action of braid, it allows for instant hook sets which for me is an important thing. I also prefer braid because it allows for a higher pound test rating while being able to spool a large amount of line. I generally use Spiderwire or Power Pro, but there are several other good manufacturers of braid such as Ande, Stren and Berkley where you can not go wrong. I generally spool my light tackle spinning striper reels with 14lb braid and my bait casting striper reels with 20lb braid. One word of caution if you choose to go the braided line route, it braid will cut you like a knife. Never touch the line as a fish is taking drag or try to grab the line. I also recommend if you have kids fishing your rods/reels, go with mono, it only takes a small mistake with the stuff to result in a deep cut that will require a trip to the emergency room.
While, braid is my fishing line of choice, monofilament does have its applications where it shines over braid. The very fact that mono gives can be a good thing when fighting a fish because it provides some shock absorption. If you’ve been using mono and switch over to braid, be sure to take extra care to set your drag. I usually set my drag a little lighter then I do with mono because the only shock absorption you have with braid really is your drag. Also, I find that mono works a little better for crankbaits and/or swimming baits because of the stretch, what you give up with stretch in the hook set, you gain in lure action. And lure action can be the difference between eliciting a strike and not.
Both type of lines have their advantages and disadvantages; choose the line that fits the lures you’ll be using and what you are comfortable with and catch’em up.
The Light Tackle Fishing for Striped Bass Series
Part 1 - Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing for Striped Bass
Part 2 - Light Tackle Fishing Rods
Part 3 - Light Tackle Spinning Reels
Part 4 - Light Tackle Baitcasting Reels
Part 5 - Fishing Line
Part 6 - Fishing Knots
Part 7 - Lures: Plastics and Jigs/Bucktails
Part 8- Lures: Topwater Poppers
Part 9 - Lures: Crank Baits
Part 10 - Lures: Spoons
Part 11 - Putting it all Together: Where to look for Striped Bass
Part 12 - Boats: Reviewing the Best Light Tackle Boats
Part 13 - Boats: Rigging your Boat for Light Tackle Fishing