Understanding Fishing Braid (Braided Fishing Line).
By Danie Engelbrecht
Dyneema, also known as Spectra, are brand names for gel-spun polyethylene fibers that was invented by a Dutch chemical company called DSM; and the material that gives today’s fishing braids their remarkable properties. A braided fishing line made from 100% pure Dyneema fibers will be the finest diameter braid you can buy, but Dyneema is lighter than water, so any pure Dyneema braid will float
As a general rule, similar diameter braids made from 100% pure Dyneema will have similar breaking strains, immaterial of what is written on the spool.
Braid characteristics will vary according to how many fibers of Dyneema are used, how it has been braided and the thermo-fixation process used. This will have an affect on the texture, the cross-section profile, knot performance, abrasion qualities and durability.
Care must be taken when spooling new fishing braid. It is very important not to overfill your reels otherwise 'wind knots' will occur, and it is best loaded onto your spools wet and under tension.
Braid is supple and generally of a low diameter thus during the cast it leaves the spool very quickly (much faster than mono). The slight resistance caused as the braid passes through the rod eyes slows the line a little, thus when the braid flies off the spool it can catch up and you will end up with a mass of line wrapping together into a tangle around the rod eyes and the reel. To solve this problem, the braid coming from the reel needs to be slowed down a little, and this is done by loading the spool about 5mm short of full; it will increases the resistance placed on the braid as it passes over the lip of the spool and slows it thus down.
As there is almost zero stretch in braid the fight from a carp on braid compared to mono is unreal. The feelings transmitted through the braid are magnified 50 times over those of mono.
Some anglers are terrified that the hook is going to pop out at any given second and it can be a bit heart-stopping at first as you will feel every head-shake the carp makes.
Some suggest the use of a mono leader to help soften this.
Others disagree as they say that they always feel in complete control throughout the fight.
The main tip here would be to play the carp a bit more gingerly until you’re used to what you can, or cannot, get away with and try to keep a tight line on the fish all the time; this prevents any movement of the hook, and avoid hook pulls or hooklink breakages.
One thing you do have to watch is when tightening up after casting out; you have to do it much more gently than you would with mono. Because you are in direct contact with the lead and sudden movement can dislodge the lead, especially if you are fishing on the slope of an island or the side of a bar, you could even pull the rig from a clear spot into the weed.
The zero stretch can result in a broken rod if the braid gets wrapped around rings during casting or general handling.
The zero stretch can also result in breakages during the strike. Try not to strike; just lift your rod with a slow and smooth (fluid) motion. That will be enough to set the hook.
Make sure your rod is firmly anchored as some of the takes can be frightening; with rods pulled into the water if the baitrunner is set too tightly.
During the warmer months we have a major problem in our waters with crabs that use their claws to pinches (snip) line off. There’s no scientific explanation why they do that, but it does happen.
Due to the fact that braid flattens when the crab pinches it, it doesn’t cut as easily as mono.
But thicker in diameter braids don’t flatten enough and can be cut by crab claws.
It so happened that I even landed a few crabs that were so interested in pinching my braid, that they totally refused to let go.
Thus, if you get breakages in waters up to 4m in depth, but especially in the region of your back leads near the bank, it’s not your new braid (or mono) that’s crap.
NO LINE (MONO OR BRAID) CAN BREAK BY ITSELF!
Think crabs and move to another spot, or you might lose a lot of line, end tackle, and perhaps fish.
There are two types of braid available:
Floating braids combined with backleads and Kryston tungsten putty is fine for close to medium range fishing, and ideal for marker float use, spodding and lure fishing.
Sinking braids are ideal for 'pinning down' main line when a much less detectable approach is required and especially for extreme distance fishing.
Remember that floating braids tend to float, and even if you use backleads, flying backleads or Kryston Tungsten Putty to pull it to the bottom, there will always be lengths of braid that will float upwards, away from the bottom.
I do not advocate the use of split shots. Split shots can damage line, and you only need one broken fiber to lose fish.
The best casting braids are made from 6 or more Dyneema fibers that can be tightly braided and
with a thermo-fixation process you get a nice round braid that cast easily.
Ockert, a German manufacturer, has taken it a step further with their 8 fiber Climax BR8 Mono-Braid. Due to the 8 fibers it’s braided extremely round and a unique fibre coating technique gives the braid a mono-like smooth coating, for hassle free casting similar to that off monofilament.
With sinking braids, polyester fibers that’s heavier than water, are blended with Dyneema fibers. Polyester fibers are thicker and weaker than Dyneema and as such can’t be braided as tightly as Dyneema, thus you get a looser, more oval, braided line, that’s not really suitable for casting.
For the very same reason sinking braids are also thicker in diameter compared to floating braids.
The diameter stated on the spool label (for all brands) aren’t the true diameter.
Due to the softness of braided line the standard way to measure mono (with a micrometer/caliper) press the braid flat and so it is basically impossible to really measure a braid precisely. For that reason braid companies either don’t indicate diameter or they label a 'technical' diameter that theoretically would be correct if you add the diameter of all the single fibres.
But this is not realistic, thus I would recommend that you select or buy your braid according to the breaking strain, which can be measured and labled precisely by the manufacturer.
For the same reason the diameter/breaking strain indications given on reels are always for monofilaments and not for braids.
At the moment there is no international guidelines for indicating breaking strain, thus some manufacturers underrate braids (and mono). A line labeled 20lb by one company may have a true strength off 30lb+ while a line labeled 20lb by a different company may have a genuine strength of 20lb.
This practice will change in the near future. The European Fishing Tackle Trade Association is working on bylaws that will prohibit untrue labeling of lines. Manufacturers that want to sell their lines in Europe will then have no alternative than to comply with the new laws; thus quite a few anglers will to their surprise find that the 20lb (or whatever) breaking strain line that they now use, won’t be so exceptionally strong in the future.
Some knots that are suitable for mono can’t be used on braids.
Due to the softer braided body some knots tend to slip (loosen) under load, either losing knot strength or they completely pull loose, but most importantly some knots will cut braid as if it’s butter.
Using knots as recommended by the manufacturers are the safest and I would sugest that you also
finish off all knots with a rig glue such as Gardner Rig Glue.
Don’t use any glue as most glues have a smell that might repel fish. Gardner rig glue doesn’t have any smell and it will increase knot strength with both braid and mono by seeping in and preventing any slipage that might occur as well as strangulation.
Use sparingly, especially on braids; one drop is often too much – try half a drop.
The best knots to use with braid are the Grinner (double looped); Double Clinch (swivelled 7 times); Surgeon’s Loop; the Bimini Twist-Knot and the Palomar (double looped),.
Lastly, I’ve heard off, and seen, various ways that anglers use to “test” braid strength.
Some tie an ordinary overhand knot in the line, and then pulls the two ends with a jerk motion.
It’s not a decent test as the knot itself most definitely cuts into the braid and the jerk motion has the same effect as a strike.
Some think that to pull the two ends, without any knot, is a good test.
But, our body strength differs, thus we can’t exert the same strength onto that piece of braid.
With one person the braid won’t break, and no matter how hard he pulls he will only end up with bloody hands, while another person might break the same piece of braid with ease.
Thus, for one person that braid will be very strong whiles the other guy might think its crap.
Who’s right, and who’s wrong?
Some anglers use a spring scale to test the line, but the springs used in spring scales are made for a short, fast, pulling action, and become sticky at a certain point.
I’ve used three brand new 25kg scales from different manufacturers and all became sticky at between 8 to 12kg. Thereafter they pull with jerky motions that in my opinion have the same effect
as a strike. Even my old 10kg Salter, that I know to be very accurate, became sticky at about 6kg.
Unfortunately none of the tests that I know off are a fool proof way to test strength, but you can do
a better than average test with a 3lb test curve carp rod.
Using a casting glove, let somebody hold the line about 50 metres away from you.
Then with a slow but smooth (fluid) motion lift your rod as far as you can (do not strike) to exert pressure on the braid.
Don’t overdo it or you might break your rod.
If neither your rod nor the line breaks, you can safely assume that no fish will break it either.