Some Friday feelings....

I have been using this Daiwa Tournament 8 braid for long enough now to have formed a proper opinion - and I simply can't find any kind of fault with it. You either know all about using 8-strand braid for lure fishing or you don't. It is not going to catch you a truck load more fish, but personally I believe that these modern braids do offer us distinct advantages, and one of the things that I really like about this new Daiwa stuff is that it gives more anglers the chance to use a modern braid like this at more sensible prices. Plus it is also starting to become a little more easily available here in the UK. At least I think so......

The 20lb Daiwa Tournament 8 braid is freaky thin - I have no figures to prove it, but it just feels slightly thinner even than the already awesome 20lb Varivas Avani Sea Bass Max Power PE (see here). Longer casts without a doubt when using thinner lines, cuts through wind and tide a whole lot better, so limp and easy to fish with (not one single wind knot yet, not even close in fact, but I might regret saying that !!), and as strong as hell. I tend to use it for a lot of my lure fishing and it just plain works really well. To be perfectly honest, I have not come across a bad 8-strand braid yet, and I am hearing really good things about the new pink YGK stuff from Ultimate Fishing as well (contact these guys here).

One advantage I personally see with these massively thin and limp 8-strand braids is that they give us the chance to up our line strengths without losing out on the advantages. Yes, I know we don't get 30lb bass from our shores (I wish), but I do like to sometimes put a 30lb braid on when I am fishing really heavy rough ground. I like the added bit of abrasion resistance that a slightly thicker line gives me (agree or disagree, it's only my opinion), and I very much like an extra bit of grunt to help wrench lures out of the inevitable snags. I don't actually use 30lb half as much I used to these days, mainly because these 20lb 8-strand braids are just so strong and abrasion resistant, but I have played around with the (insanely thin) 30lb Daiwa Tourament 8 braid and it is just sublime to fish with. I do like spinning reels that come with spare spools, mainly because I can load one up with 20lb and the other with 30lb for example

There is a spinning reel that I have been playing around with for a while now that I really want to tell you about, mainly because I think it is one of the best spinning reels for bass fishing that I have ever had the pleasure of using. But it is not yet on the UK market. If and when it does become available, I will get some photos and reports up here. It is not cheap, but it is not proper high-end prices, and it does come with a spare sool. It is one hell of a spinning reel.........

I always use a short 20-25lb Varivas fluorcarbon leader to my lure clip, but from time to time I hear of anglers claiming that their braids are breaking on the knot that they have tied to their leader. Personally I reckon that practically every single time it's angler error though - sorry to say that, but I come across so many people who simply don't know how to tie a decent braid to fluoro leader, and it's especially vital with these 8-strand braids that will slip if you don't secure them down properly. I might regret saying this as well, but I have never had one of my leaders break at the knot when fishing. Sure, they have eventually gone when a lure is snagged good and proper and I have wrenched the hell out of it, but never when fishing or horsing fish. And I mean horsing fish. Playing fish properly so that they come in and nice and green and go back really strongly. Line does not just break when horsing fish if you tie decent knots and you know how to use the drag system on your reel.

If you can, get your hands on the latest issue of the outstanding Sportfishing magazine from the US - check here. There is a really good article in there about braid to mono/fluoro in there, and one of the strongest tested knots is actually a variation on what I know as the "Improved Albright" - have a look at this link here for some very easy to follow diagrams on tying the standard and the Improved Albright knots. Mick has a You Tube clip here that shows you how to tie it as well, see here. Although the title says "Albright", the knot that Mick ties is actually the Improved version. Have a look right at the bottom of this page here - I tend to put that "lock" in after tying my Improved Albright. Nice and easy, but a seriously strong connection that works really well with these 8-strand braids.

I have talked about the awesome Costa del Mar 580 polarised lenses on here before, but recently I have been wearing and using their Green Mirror 580 Blackfin glasses that you can see above - I know all about the Green Mirror 580 lenses on bright tropical flats, indeed they are freaky good. But what surprised me a bit his how staggeringly good these Green Mirror 580 lenses are for a lot of our own fishing over here. Costa do not make a bad lens, and yes, they are not remotely cheap. The best stuff never is. There are all manner of polarised sunglasses out there that will do a good job for not very much money, but these Costas are a big step up. Personally I believe that a good pair of sunglasses is as important as a good rod or reel.

Everybody has their own preferences when it comes to the actual colouration of their lenses, but I can't tell you how well these Green Mirror ones work for "our" fishing, and in all kinds of light as well. What I really like about the Blackfin frame is that it cuts out any stray light that can sneak in around the sides of your eyes - talk to these guys here about Costa del Mar glasses. They all use them for their own fishing and you can't ask for better advice than that. I come back to what I said on here a while back - it seriously is like seeing the whole world in high-def. Andy is wearing a pair of them below - the catwalk beckons........