If saltwater fishing in the UK is traditionally the poor relation, then how on earth have we got to the stage that increasing numbers of anglers are prepared to spend what is some pretty serious wedge on a mainline? OK, so you're going to be just fine fishing with a braid that costs a whole heap less, but just the fact that some UK saltwater anglers are spending what it takes to use the best lines is a world apart from only a few years back.
But for the life of me I will never understand spending 8-strand money and then not taking the time to either tie really good modern knots to your leader (if indeed you use one), or if you can't tie them, then at least learning how to because you've spent all that money and as a result you want your expensive investment to work as it is designed to. I do like fishing with good 8-strand braids for some of my lure fishing and I accept that for the advantages I believe I am getting I am not getting good abrasion resistance etc.
I just don't think there are many bad braids out there these days, or at least if there are then I am not coming across them. I like to think that I am an open-minded angler, but when I hear or read reports of so and so braid snapping "for no reason/out of the blue", nothing has changed my opinion that for the most part it's down to bad knots and/or angler error - I am just not getting my braids snapping for no reason. It just doesn't happen to me, and I am pretty sure that I fish with a tighter drag and pull my fish somewhat harder than most of you do. It's not remotely a macho thing, rather it's me having seen plenty of good anglers around the world fishing pulling the living daylights out of their fish, and landing bigger, much harder fighting fish than we are ever going to see here in the UK - and because I try to watch and learn, it's me then applying a bit of that to how I do things here at home because I can't see a reason why not to.
Sure, run a tight braid against a sharp rock with a scrapping fish on the end and chances are it's going to break. It's called fishing and we do it in some pretty tough-on-gear places at the end of the day, so some fish losses are part and parcel of it - but why on earth not learn how to tie really good knots so that you can take the "don't understand why" line breakages out of the equation?
"Yeah, but my (old) knot is great and it does just fine". Good for you, but surely you want to give these really modern lines that you have spent considerable money on their best chance of performing to their maximum? Is a bit of change really that hard? Tie a grinner to grinner, uni to uni or even an Improved Albright and fish away with no worries, but how about feeling an extra bit of confidence to pull the living daylights out of a fish over rough terrain or in a strong current? How about getting more of your expensive lures back from snags because you can apply a hell of a lot more pressure to hooks that might well end up bending out instead of your leader knot breaking and kissing goodbye to the lure?
A couple of times last week in Ireland I snagged my Black Minnow up and managed to wrench it out when I am very confident I would have lost it with any other knot I know than this FC/Simplified GT knot - see here. Earlier last year I snagged some Black Minnows up in exactly the same place and lost the lures with an Improved Albright from braid to leader, but this time around I got the lures back - ok, I can't prove it was because of my adoption of the the FC knot, but I do know I can pull a massive amount harder with this knot over something like the Improved Albright.
Look, the Improved Albright is a good knot. It's quick and easy to tie, it's perfectly strong and it did me fine for ages - but because I want to keep on learning and I hope improving, I went looking for a better knot, and the FC knot is better. I wanted to be able to sometimes use a longer leader and I knew that the braids I was using were stronger than I was already seeing - so why not give them a chance to be as good as they are meant to be? Why buy a 20lb braid and then not get close to that breaking strain because of your knot? Why use ropey knots and either lose fish or lose faith completely with your line and spend more money replacing it with something different. It's just a complete no-brainer to me - why not use the best knot you can find to get your (expensive) mainline working to its full potential?
As I have done before, I come back to the 8-strand bright green Daiwa Tournament, a braid that I have read plenty about on various forums - and I keep wondering why on earth I have never had any of the "problems" that some anglers talk about. Replace the Daiwa with almost any braid you can think of and somebody somewhere is complaining about it. I grant you that with the Daiwa stuff I have tended to treat the bright green 25lb as a 20lb line, but I know plenty of anglers who fish with the same braids as me and are as mystified as I am when some anglers complain of various problems with the same lines.
It's not always knots, as in sometimes we must be honest and admit to angler error (bad casting style, overfilling reel, chipped guides, reel not suited to modern braids, not checking for nicks in the line, etc.), but I wonder how many lure anglers there are who persist in using old fashioned knots with modern lines? Sure, this FC knot might take a while to learn and tie, but why not tie the knot at home and then go fishing with it, because if you tie it right and snag up and the lure absolutely will not come back, then I bet you what ends up snapping is your leader knot to the lure clip rather then the actual leader knot. How much sense does this sort of knot make for say wrassing with lures? Tie a 6' leader on before you go out fishing and then simply retie your end gear on when you lose a Texas rig (fairly rare anyway), rather than having to tie on new leaders? I would also argue that a really good connecting knot then enables you to confidently fish with lighter mainlines in certain situations, but that is for another time. Here's me sitting on the fence - learn to tie better, more modern knots properly and give up complaining about braid which is not being given the chance to work properly in the first place. Good eh?