The other day I blogged about braid leaders, and because the idea of a thicker length of braid as an attempt at some extra protection against sharp rocks etc. made a lot of sense to me I went and put braid leaders on a couple of rod and reel setups that were sitting in my rod rack. I liked the idea but I will never know if this system might work for me unless I use it as part of my own fishing gear……………
And so far a braid leader has worked flawlessly for me. I can’t give you an indication yet as to whether that extra bit of potential protection is helping me from an abrasion point of view, but obviously I hope that it might one day if I persist with this leader setup. My mainline setup with a braid leader in there seems to be as strong as you like - I have caught fish in some heavy conditions and very rough ground, I have snagged a few lures and had to pull for breaks, I have cast repeatedly with all manner of lures, and I haven’t had a single issue.
As much as none of us like losing lures, I kinda needed to snag a lure up good and solid to see if that braid mainline to braid leader FG was going to hold up and not snap before either the FG knot from braid leader to fluoro leader, or preferably the knot in the fluoro leader to my lure clip. The FG knot is that bloody strong that if I need to pull for a break, for me it’s got to be nine times out of ten that my fluoro leader breaks somewhere (and usually on the knot to the lure clip) and the rather amazing FG knot which secures my braid mainline to my fluoro leader just keeps on going.
But obviously if you are going to put a thicker braid leader into the melting pot, that’s another knot, although it seems that a braid to braid FG is incredibly strong and that if you are using a bit of a longer leader then it might well be on your reel for a decent length of time before needing to be replaced, and as per usual you can simply replace your fluoro or mono leader as required.
Last Saturday and Sunday I was using what I could call my north coast setup - that ridiculously good 9’6’’ Shimano rod I reviewed on Monday, a 4000 size Shimano spinning reel loaded up with my favourite, has never let me down 21lb/0.15mm Sufix Performance Pro 8 braid, and on the end of that I put say a five metre long Berkley Whiplash 8 38.5lb/17.5kg braid leader. This new Berkley Whiplash 8 braid comes in 300m spools and it feels as tough as hell, although I can’t take the quoted diameters of this line remotely seriously - a 38.5lb 8-strand braid at a claimed diameter of 0.12mm? Mmm, perhaps not! That aside, this rather nice braid feels all of 38.5lb strong and I thought it might do well as a braid leader. On the end of that braid leader I stepped up from 20lb/0.37mm to 30lb/0.44mm Sufix Invisiline fluorocarbon for Sunday because we were getting a lot of leader damage from the rough ground.
On both days I happened to snag a Savage Gear Sandeel up and had to pull for a break, and on both occasions the knot that secured my Sufix Invisiline fluorocarbon leader to my Breakaway Mini Link lure clip broke - as indeed I hoped it would, or rather I was hoping that the FG knot securing my braid mainline to my braid leader would hold, and it did. Even when I stepped up to a 30lb Sufix Invisiline fluoro leader and was still using the same braid mainline and leader, the connections were that strong that it was still my knot in the fluoro to the lure clip that broke when I snagged a lure up. So if there is one thing I am not going to worry about whilst I am trying out a braid leader, it’s the overall strength. I have a braid leader setup on a lighter rod and reel setup as well and that fishes just as well.
Not once has that FG knot from braid to braid caught in my rod rings, and I haven’t thought for one second that a braid leader is remotely affecting how far my lures are going if they need to - I can’t prove it, but it sure looks like my lures are flying incredibly “true” with that heavier braid leader trailing behind them, plus a part of me thinks they are going a little further as well. Please bear in mind here that I have been fishing mainly with that amazing Shimano Exsence Infinity 9’6’’ lure rod, and if there is one thing which is so obvious with this rod it’s that you seriously only need to be casting at say 75% power to get the best out of it, so this “smoothness” may have a lot to do with why my lures seem to be going out so well. I do though have a feeling that a braid leader is proving beneficial on the casting front.
But to be fair and impartial here, I was fishing with a couple of lads on Saturday, and we got to talking about braid leaders. Both Charlie and Jody then put braid leaders on their setups for our early morning Sunday session, and both guys reckoned their casting distance had been cut. These guys are seriously good anglers so I am not about to dismiss what they were saying, but on the other hand I do also wonder if the fact that we were battling tricky conditions around HW especially quite naturally leads one to question something new in the setup. I set a rod and a reel up for a friend the other day, and I put a braid leader on that as well. He fished for the session and had no idea there was a braid leader in there until I told him on the way home.
Somebody kindly left a comment on the original braid leader post from the other day that gave a link to the video above. I have actually fished and photographed with the angler in the video down in South Africa, and holy cow do these lads know their shore based fishing. I can’t pretend that I had ever thought of your potentially very thin braid mainline potentially suffering from repeated casting - watch the video for an explanation - but it does make sense and I wonder if a few unexplained line breaks might be down to this? Whatever the case, I like their thinking behind a braid leader.
Anyway, there you go for the moment. I didn’t mean this to be a very long blog post, but there’s more to it than I thought. I am going to keep going with this braid leader thing and see where it might get me. It does seem to be an entirely logical way of fishing some very rough ground and hectic conditions with a nice thin mainline but then getting that extra bit of protection in there, but time will tell and all that.
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