I should begin this review by saying that I am not actually looking for a braid replacement. I read or hear about the odd problems that some anglers have with braid from time to time, but for some reason it doesn't happen to me. When I used to do a bit of tournament casting I hardly ever got crack-offs, indeed I hardly ever got one when I was shore fishing with my multiplier reels (but then I used to service all my own reels and I had them all running safe. I knew them inside out, literally). I very, very rarely get a wind knot when I am fishing with braid (and yes, I underfill my spools probably more than most), and I don't suffer random breakages with my knots. Now what I am categorically NOT saying is that I am some kind of line or casting guru - because it's pretty obvious to anybody who fishes with me that I'm not !! But the braids I use these days just work really well for me and as such I am not (or perhaps was not) looking to change from braid to something else...........
So we come to this new Berkley NanoFil line - a "Uni-Filament" fishing line that to give credit to Berkley was launched last year with a fair bit of fanfare, and especially in the US. Somebody I know kindly gave me a spool at the Tackle and Guns show last October and asked that I use it and see what I thought. Which I have done. I spooled it up before I headed over to Ireland for my last trip of 2011 and have made sure to use it in all kinds of conditions since then, and on one occasion especially I was running back to my camera rucksack and chopping and changing between a spinning reel with NanoFil on and another (same size) spinning reel with that bright green Daiwa Tournament 8-braid on in 20lb breaking strain. The spool of NanoFil that I was given is the 6.9kg - essentially 15lb breaking strain to you and I.
First off, I have had no problems at all with knotting this Berkley NanoFil (and I get no problems with knotting braid either). I have read about various issues and I see that Berkley even supply a leaflet with the spool that advises on the use of particular knots. Good on them, and I wish other tackle companies would be more proactive like this, but from the off I used my regular braid to mono/fluoro knot and it's worked just fine - see here for the knots(s) I use. I have had no random breakages with the line and it feels perfectly strong when you fight a fish or indeed try and wrench a lure out of a snag. From my time so far with NanoFil I don't feel that it's offering me any kind of abrasion resistance advantage, but then I did not expect it to. So far this NanoFil is working just fine for me, but is it working a whole load better than these 8-strand braids that I tend to lure fish with ? Should I be changing over to it ?
"You can expect your casting distances to soar by over 50% over mono of the same breaking strain" - I have taken this quote directly from the Berkley video that you can watch here. Now is it only me, or have other anglers picked up on something here ? One of the selling points of NanoFil is that it is a low diameter mainline when compared to mono - which it is. So logic then says that of course it should be casting further than the equivalent breaking strain mono, indeed if it did not then there would be something seriously wrong with it !! I know little about science, but the thinner line SHOULD be outcasting the thicker line should it not ? So excuse me for not quite jumping around in wonderment at that statement above. Note here that this 15lb Nanofil's stated diameter is 0.134mm - Daiwa Tournament 8-braid in 15lb is stated at 0.10mm, 4-strand PowerPro braid at 0.18mm, and a regular mono at 15lb is of course 0.35mm.
Don't for one second get me wrong though. Berkley NanoFil casts very well. I love the way it comes off the reel so smoothly, and I have not had one single hint of a wind knot yet. It is a very easy line to fish with and I can't find anything about it that I don't actually like. Sure, it feels very different to these 8-strand braids that I tend to use most of the time, but I would disagree with the bloke in that Berkley video who says that it "feels and handles much like a supple monofilament". I can't recall ever fishing with a mono line that felt remotely like NanoFil - NanoFil feels like NanoFil if that makes sense. Kind of like a bit of a wiry feeling braid if that makes any sense, but it is feels supple and of course it does not stretch. Much like braid.
Much like braid. This one thought keeps coming back to me. For me to switch over to using this NanoFil for all of my lure fishing I need to find something in it that I feel is giving me a direct advantage over the lines I am already using - and as I said earlier, I just don't get any problems with the lines I am currently using. So I come back to the casting thing. Most of what I read about in relation to this NanoFil talks about the casting qualities. These 8-strands just fly for me, indeed so do the good 4-strands. So does mono. But does NanoFil cast further than say a good 8-strand braid of the equivalent breaking strain ?
Look, NanoFil casts great, but I don't for one second feel that it is giving me any extra distance over the lines I am already using, indeed there have been a couple of occasions when I have felt that my 8-strand braid was outcasting the NanoFil. I have no facts and figures to back any of this up - it's all on feel and what I can see, but I had a particular morning in Ireland late last year when I had a strong wind that was across and into me (imagine facing north, with a strong ENE wind if that makes sense). This was when I kept on changing reels as I described earlier, because I was convinced that the NanoFil was almost getting knocked down a bit in the wind. If you play golf you will know what I mean when a certain kind of wind knocks your ball down. The 8-strand braid just seemed to cut through this kind of wind direction a bit better. I can't say the distance differences were big, because they weren't, but I could definitely feel the difference between casting the two kinds of mainlines. Also bear in mind the 8-strand I was using was 20lb and the NanoFil was 15lb.
If you are having issues with braids then this Berkley NanoFil is seriously with a look. It works great, and I would guess that from my experience with Berkley lines over the years (remember that old bright green Trilene that was as strong as rope ?) there is every chance that NanoFil for example which is stated at 15lb (6.9kg) breaking strain might break well above this. Please note that this is pure speculation on my part and I have nothing at all to back it up. These 8-strand braids seem to be pretty accurate on their breaking strains, and perhaps this is where some "issues" arise from - the fact that many lines don't actually break near their stated breaking strains, and as such we perhaps have almost come to expect that a 20lb line for example breaks at MORE than 20lb. Again, that is speculation on my part, but it's a hunch I have had for a while. Take a line that genuinely breaks at 20lb and then put a knot in it and it's now breaking at less than 20lb. It's a fact. Knots weaken lines and you simply have to allow for it when picking a breaking strain to use.
But will I be changing over to Berkley NanoFil ? No. I think it's a good mainline, but so far I have notfound it to be better than the mainlines I am currently using. I get on great with the lines I use, and I will continue to play around with the NanoFil that I have on one of my reels, but as hard as I have tried, so far it just is not proving to be any better than the stuff I am fishing with at the moment. But, Berkley NanoFil does seem to be another viable option for lure fishing especially - and if this Berkley NanoFil is a first generation "Uni-Filament" fishing line, where perhaps will the next generations of these kinds of lines go ?