At last, PE ratings for braid make sense to me!

I like to think I am relatively intelligent and I pride myself on trying to keep on learning about fishing all the time, but up until Saturday morning I don’t mind admitting that this PE numbers rating system for braid had me both confused and a little angry into the bargain - confused because as with quoted diameters and breaking strains, I was thinking that PE ratings were yet another set of numbers designed to bewilder us, and annoyed because I can’t stand it when fishing comes across as overly complicated………..

I spent a couple of hours on Saturday morning with my mate Mark at the highly impressive Art of Fishing tackle shop in Wadebridge, indeed I would hazard a guess that there is nowhere else in the UK where you can see and pick up such an array of modern style lure fishing rods, not to mention heaps of lures, reels, clothing, accessories etc. I repeatedly take my hat off to Ben the owner and I also got a sneak preview of the new shop website that is coming soon - take it from me, I doubt there’s another English language website out there that goes into such easy to understand depth on lure rods especially. I shall shamelessly be quoting and grabbing screenshots from this forthcoming Art of Fishing website for future blog reviews!

Anyway, I digress. PE ratings and how they have confused the hell out of me in the past, and how they now make perfect sense, and it’s all thanks to Mark and Ben. OK, so I could have gone and done loads more research into PE ratings, but to be perfectly honest I had left the subject alone ever since I wrote this blog post here way back in August 2012. PE ratings annoyed me back then and I decided to stick to the more conventional diameter and breaking strains, even if they themselves are quite often a steaming pile of meaningless poo anyway. Perhaps here in the UK as anglers we have been conditioned to think of lines in terms of diameter and breaking strains? I remember when I first went to catch big sharks off the beach in Namibia and I was fascinated to learn how the anglers out there only talked about mainlines in terms of diameter.

On Saturday morning the three of us were having a discussion about braids (I got to have a look at the new sub-£20 Shimano Kairiki 8-strand braid, felt bloody lovely) and how for example I had seen a post on WSF where an angler had provided links to ratings for that new Shimano braid where yet again there were those annoying discrepancies between diameters and breaking strains depending on which country you live in and buy your braid from - check here and here. So I launched into another tirade in the shop about how these differences annoy the hell out of me because it’s so damn difficult to find a “standard” say 20lb 8-strand braid if you base it on those kinds of discrepancies -  to which Mark and Ben both replied “forget about breaking strains and buy your braid based on the PE numbers”. “But how can I when those bloody PE ratings confuse me as much as the breaking strains and diameters?” I asked.

PE # Diameter

  • PE 0.6 ………………………….. 0.128mm
  • PE 0.8 ………………………….. 0.148mm
  • PE 1 …………………………….. 0.165mm
  • PE 1.2 ………………………….. 0.185mm
  • PE 1.5 ………………………….. 0.205mm
  • PE 1.7 ………………………….. 0.218mm
  • PE 2 …………………………….. 0.235mm
  • PE 2.5 ………………………….. 0.260mm
  • PE 3 …………………………….. 0.285mm
  • PE 3.5 ………………………….. 0.310mm
  • PE 4 …………………………….. 0.330mm
  • PE 5 …………………………….. 0.370mm
  • PE 6 …………………………….. 0.405mm
  • PE 7 …………………………….. 0.435mm
  • PE 8 …………………………….. 0.470mm
  • PE 10 …………………………… 0.520mm
  • PE 12 …………………………… 0.570mm
  • PE 14 …………………………… 0.620mm
  • PE 16 …………………………… 0.660mm
  • PE 18 …………………………… 0.700mm
  • PE 20 …………………………… 0.740mm
  • PE 22 …………………………… 0.780mm
  • PE 24 …………………………… 0.810mm
  • PE 28 …………………………… 0.870mm


The PE rating system comes out of Japan, and as per the figures above it is actually based around diameters, with the PE numbers are meant to be standards diameters across the board. From talking extensively with Mark and Ben about it, it now seems to make sense for me to ignore those breaking strains and diameters figures on the spools and packets - because we know they are kinda meaningless with how different countries rates their lines - and instead start buying your braid based on the PE ratings (when the number is actually on there of course). If you all do this already and I haven’t been then ignore this blog post and instead have a good giggle about how stupid I have been, but I would hazard a guess that a number of you out there have been confused as me about all this.

But can we bring ourselves to essentially forget about the supposed breaking strains of our mainlines though when it comes to buying them? Yet again I would draw your attention to how confusing and arguably meaningless those figures we use to base our line buying decisions are - take a look here for starters which is me searching the word “diameter” on my own blog - yet if these PE ratings are indeed “standard” diameter measurements, then surely it’s a simple way of bypassing those other figures and instead buying your braid based on some sort of standard ratings system? Granted, braids coming out of the US especially don’t use the PE ratings system, but for me I can only think of PowerPro, Sufix 832 and Performance 8, plus the new SpiderWire Stealth Smooth 8 braid as lines I use or have used which don’t carry some sort of PE rating number on the packet or spool - and all those excellent braids I would suggest have some confusing numbers on the spools depending on where you buy them.

I found this information online and I am quoting it here: “The PE standard of measurement is based on a numbering system known as “gouw”, the system that the Japanese originally used to measure the diameter of silk thread. This measurement system has since been applied to monofilament and braided fishing lines. The “PE” stands for Polyethylene, the fibre used to make Dynema and Spectra braided lines. The PE rating is a constant measurement, so while two lines advertised as being rated to 50lb may actually test at different breaking strains, two lines with the same PE rating will always be the same diameter. As a very general rule, you can multiply the PE# by 10 to get an approximate breaking strain of a braided line, i.e. PE4 x 10 = 40lb, as it will rarely test below (10xPE#). However, the breaking strain can vary a great deal between different lines of the same diameter. This is especially true in many of the high end braids that use more strands and a tighter weave, resulting in a rounder, smoother finish and higher breaking strain for the same diameter as lines of lesser quality”.

So what PE number braid should you be buying for let’s say your bass fishing from the shore? It’s hard to get away from wanting to know at very roughly what your braid might break at via what I assume was some sort of machine based test, and my understanding is that a high quality 8-strand braid quoted as PE#1 should be somewhere around the 14-18lb mark, and a high quality PE#1.2 8-strand braid is roughly a 20lb breaking strain (whatever those breaking strains actually mean of course) - BUT, you need to understand that the PE system is based on diameter and NOT breaking strain. Trying to apply breaking strains to PE numbers is very much a generalisation then, but if I go looking through the 8-strand braids that I fish with, I reckon I’m fishing with a PE#1.2 8-strand braid the most, and then say a PE#1 on the slightly smaller spinning reels (Shimano 3000 size, Daiwa 2500 size). I can’t imagine that any of us would go wrong with either of those PE rated braids for our bass fishing in the UK or Ireland, and then adjust accordingly whilst bearing mind that however much we love our bass, they ain’t straight-breaking these lines due to their sheer size or power! Nope, for me I want the best mix of strength, casting, abrasion resistance, and the chance of pulling snagged lures free.

So rather annoyingly I then notice on those Shimano Kairiki 8-strand links from earlier, plus with J-Braid on the Daiwa UK website, that the PE numbers are not actually quoted. They are actually quoted on the packaging and spools on both braids, but I can’t find a complete list of their PE ratings online, so I am not sure how you get around this unless you can find a decent website that sells the braids and lists their respective PE numbers. I know for example that the 20lb J-Braid that I have been getting on so well with has a PE#1.2 rating on the packet and spool - which interestingly doesn’t correspond with the quoted diameter of 0.16mm on the spool when as per the figures further up the page which says PE#1.2 is meant to be 0.185mm. Go frigging figure yet again! Can you see why the braids and their numbers annoy me?

I am sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that a number of spinning reels coming out of Japan especially quote their spool capacities as being able to hold so and so length of so and so PE number braid which now makes a lot of sense to me, and of course many of their lure rods use the same ratings which I must admit doesn’t make that much sense to me! I like the idea of buying a spinning reel which tells me exactly how much braid of a certain PE number I can fit on there and know that I am not then wasting any. Bear in mind as well that a thicker 4-strand braid coming out of Japan will also have PE ratings, but don’t forget that the PE ratings refer to diameter and not breaking strain, and as such a PE#1 8-strand will most likely be a stronger line than a PE#1 4-strand and so on.

Does this make sense? I hope so, although when I read it back to myself I wonder if I have gone and tied myself in knots all over again! I hope I haven’t though, but as much as I have tried to make sense of this PE stuff, at the end of the day it can still be pretty confusing, and if you put a decent knot on most braids we might use these days then you will be just fine. As for me? The more I think about, the more sense these PE ratings now make if I can bring myself to forget about breaking strains and actually how little they really mean, and I will start buying my 8-strand braids especially based on their respective PE ratings and how much I can fit on a spinning reel spool if indeed the numbers are quoted on there in the first place!

And note that there has been no mention of the final match in the Six Nations! Well done Ireland he says through gritted (gutted?) teeth……………….