Braid Friend or Foe?
Case for the defence
In my opinion a lot of rubbish is spoken about braided lines, in the right situation they can be the difference between catching and not. Note 1 I said “the right situation”, braided line not is not the “holy grail” but is just another technical advance to help us anglers put more fish on the beach or in the boat.
The use of braids goes back decades and I am sure a lot of you will have heard of Terylene lines that were
popular for boat fishing back in the 70`s. Even the old “cuttyhunk” lines were made of braided cotton or flax. The braids we are fortunate to have at or disposal these days are Hi tech “gel spun” products sold under a variety of brand names. The growth in popularity is that where as the old braids were much thicker than comparable breaking strains of nylon line. The new braids are much thinner.
These new generation braids have very low diameters in relation to their breaking strains and the benefits are longer casts, due to reduced friction. Better bite indication due to virtually zero stretch and the ability
to hold out in strong tidal flows with less lead.
A variety of shore and boat braids
Shore fishing
Clean Ground
I mentioned “the right situation” earlier. For shore fishing I meant on the right reel. Nothing divides shore anglers more than the use of braided or nylon main line, except perhaps the use of either a multiplier or a fixed spool. In this respect the use of braid can be a great leveller. Using braid on a small beach sized multiplier is a recipe for disaster as the very fine, limp, line has a tendency to “lift” on anything like a powerful cast leading to horrendous birds nests and frap ups..In this situation a quality mono is far superior. On a fixed spool reel, however, the use of a quality braid can put many yards on a cast over a comparable mono line.
A braid of 15-18 lb breaking strain has an equivalent of 6-8 lb mono and the reduction in friction allows braid to fly through the rings with much less resistance. Add this advantage to the current range of long, fixed spool rung, rods and an advantage caster can reach distances usually only achieved by a multiplier user casting with a pendulum style.
As with a multiplier a casting leader is required, for safety. Some braid users prefer to use a level leader of 50-60 lb mono but in my experience I have found a tapered leader of 16-65 lb to be easier to use. The smaller knot achieved is much more comfortable to cast with and picks up less weed.There are a variety of knots that can be used for this. I generally use a double grinner (or uni knot) but other knots may suit you. Its all a matter of finding a knot you are confident at tying and sticking with. Another good knot for this job is the Albright. Both these knots and many other useful ones can be found on www.animatedknots where you get an animated demo of each knot and also a text description.
I have also seen some anglers in the North East using 100 lb braid material. If you go down this route you MUST make sure your clutch is screwed down as tight as it will go as the zero stretch in this set up can have serious consequences. Its hard to pick your nose with a stump! Speaking of finger protection, its always advisable to use a finger stall when casting braid off a fixed spool.
Rough ground
The fixed spool and braid approach is not just limited to clean beach work as the use of 60 lb braid straight through to the rig has become popular with North East anglers of recent years. Again used with long rods to quickly winch fish up out of the kelp the braid gives excellent bit registration an the use of a rotten bottom system usually means fewer fish re lost to snags.
Lure fishing
The increasing popularity of lure fishing for Bass etc from rock marks has seen a wide range of lures and rods specifically designed for the job. Again braid is the choice over mono for identifying takes and ease of casting lighter lures further. A level mono leader of 25-30 lb is used in this situation to cushion savage takes as most lure rods are quite tippy.
First chuck into unknown sea loch
Boat fishing
In almost all angling situations afloat I would recommend braid over mono every time. A bold statement I know but having been on the receiving end of more than one drubbing at the hands of braid users, when I was spooled with mono, I stand by my words!
The a ability to use lead in strong tidal flows gives a major advantage over mono users. For example on one trip up tiding on the Humber in a big tide I was not able to hold bottom with 8 oz Gemini’ using mono but the braid users on the boat were all holding with 6 oz leads, Lesson learned.
Whilst drift fishing over wrecks and reefs it is imperative to be able to feel what’s going on. With braid you can clearly feel the lead hitting the bottom which allows you to reel up a few turns to prepare for the wreck. With mono that initial bump is not always felt and you can become snagged in the wreck if your not careful.
A further advantage braid gives when wreck drifting is the amount of time you actually have with your lure on the “zone”. On a wreck with large structure if you don’t get a hit on the first retrieve you can often drop down again and get a second chance. This is because with braid you are fishing on a more perpendicular plane than when using mono and you can drop straight back onto the wreck. With mono the increasing drag means that you could be past the taking area before you get to the bottom
I recently had an interesting experience when ling fishing off the Shetland Islands. We were fishing in 150 metres of water (that’s 450 feet plus in old money!!) .  I was using 100 lb breaking strain braid and needed a 2 lb,s lead to be able to drift the wreck effectively. As well we were fishing with three booms it was important to be able to feel each hit and strike into the fish. I had been told that you risked the fish coming off the if you didn’t give them some serious toothache, so that’s what we were doing.
I usually felt the first hit and sometimes the second but never managed a treble hook up. My Shetland neighbour who was fishing wit a wire line was feeling and hitting every take. Wire lines were very popular in the seventies before modern braids became available but you really need to know what you are doing with wire (as locals obviously do). The point I am making is that in the situation we were in I would have hardly had a fish were I using mono.

Loaded with 30 lb and 100 lb braid

Spot the inefficient one
30 lb braid under pressure

Uptide result
Types of braid available
When talking about braid for sea angling we usually referring to thin floating braid. All gel spun braid floats unless it has substances added to make it sink, which increases the diameter This sort of line is usually used by carp anglers and so does not concern us. I only mention it so it can be avoided. The fact that the braid we use floats is immaterial as we usually have a great lump of lead attached!.
There are two types of floating braid: Dyneema and Spectra. One is American made, the other is Japanese.
Both are available under a plethora of trade names but the main thing to look out for is that your chosen product has a round profile. There are braids that are woven with a flat profile, avoid them like the plague!
They have tendency to dig in when under pressure and at best lose you a fish, at worst you lose a rod.
I once nearly got dragged over the side with a tope when the flat profiled braid I was using dug in. Luckily the crimped trace went because there was no way I was letting go!
There are dozens of different colours on the market. I like to use yellow when beach fishing or drifting on wrecks. This is so I can see the line in my headlight at night and can also identify which is my line when some “muppet” using mono has tangled me! Bright colours don’t seem to bother the fish but greys and greens are readily available also.
Why don’t you give braid a go you may be pleasantly surprised and it could just catch you a fish or two more.
Tight lines
I caught this using a sinking braid
Steve Akeroyd aka foxyfisher