Jeff Elliott On Fishing Line, Part One: Braid Line

By on April 27, 2016
Braid is a necessity to get fish out of grass mat jungles. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)

Fishing line seems simple enough right? It definitely can be, but as a fisherman we are always seeking to improve upon things. We’re constantly searching for the exact setup that produces the maximum amount of bites and the maximum amount of fish landed for each technique and lure choice. Between the rod, reel and line, there are a whole lot of options to consider so we will just stick to one of them.

My line choices are greatly influenced by where I primarily fish. Not just the cover types, but the size of fish we have here. What works for me in the north might not be enough for someone who could snatch a 10-pounder on any cast. The same may go for someone who spends most of their time in a place devoid of vegetation. Or even for people who just have different mechanics to their hookset, there are definitely a lot of opinions out there on the subject.

Given the choice, I would rather fish around vegetation than do anything else. One of the best lines for the green stuff is without question braid. One of the biggest advantages it has in the grass is the ability to cut. Being able to cut through those stalks of grass can be the difference between catching or losing a big fish. It also really helps when using moving baits in the grass since the no-stretch allows you to cut the weeds and rip the bait free. That isn’t something I do all the time, but in certain situations it can really pay off. You just may have to use a lighter, more moderate action rod to avoid losing fish.

The other thing that no-stretch really does is increase sensitivity. Oftentimes when bass are in the grass, the bite is just mushy and doesn’t feel much different than being bogged down in the grass. That no-stretch will allow you to know that it is a fish way before either fluorocarbon or monofilament will. One thing I don’t worry about is whether they can see my line or not. I know that bass cruising in the grass are in ambush mode. The last thing on their mind when a bait is moving through the stalks of grass is whether they can see the line. The bait is already on top of them by the time they get a good look at it, and they don’t take a lot of time to figure out if they will eat it or not.

Braid definitely shines in heavy-cover applications like lily pads and grass mats. Without it you are setting yourself up to get owned by big fish in their natural environment. If you are planning on digging them out of the thick stuff, you’ll need that no-stretch, high abrasion-resistant braid to get them out.

Coontail can be a really tough strong grass, but braid will still cut through it with ease. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)

Coontail can be a really tough strong grass, but braid will still cut through it with ease. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)

Many people are split on this but whether I’m around grass or not, I do all of my topwater fishing with braid. Braid floats so it helps get the most out of a topwater’s action. I use rods that have enough flex to not pull the hooks out of a surging fish even with the no-stretch properties of braid. Braid also makes it super easy to get some distance out of casting light topwaters or really getting distance when bombing a 5-inch walking bait out there. There also is no way you are getting most bass out of a lily pad field on a topwater frog without some strong no-stretch braid. Not topwater related, but a benefit of braid floating comes when fishing something weightless like a stick worm-style bait. It’s that the braid acts like a bobber, and you can see it floating by the side of the boat and react easily when you see your line start to move.

Another benefit to braid is its castability. Since it has no memory, it is super easy to manage. It also holds its strength and abrasion resistance far longer than any other type of line. That is one of the big reasons I love spooling up with a high quality braid like P-Lines XTCB 8 braid, as well as recommending it to any beginner or anyone who is going to have an all-purpose setup. There are no worries about kinking it up in a backlash and seriously compromising its strength like you would with any of the other types of lines.

But what pound test? I’m all over the place when it comes to that, mostly depending on how thick the cover is. I’ve always had trouble with wind knots when dropping below 20-pound test on spinning equipment so that is as low as I’ll go. You’ll have no trouble managing it because it is typically around the same diameter as 6-pound test mono. Thirty pound is a great all-around pound test for baitcasting gear and when I step up to heavy cover applications, generally 50- or 65-pound test gets spooled up.

Braid may be my personal favorite line to spool up with, but I don’t limit myself to just that. In the following parts we will get to fluorocarbon, mono and using the lines in combination.

Top image: Braid is a necessity to get fish out of grass mat jungles. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)

About Jeff Elliott

Jeff Elliott is a 2014 Bassmaster Team championship qualifier. He has 75 tournament wins, including the 2012 Detroit Lions/Kevin VanDam Charity tournament. He is a seven-time points champion and a Bust'in Sticks TV show champion.

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