Fishing Line – When To Change It And Why

Fishing Line is something that many anglers take for granted

It goes on the reel, it’s used and abused and after a short while, little thought is given to its condition. This is a mindset that we need to avoid, as when so much effort goes in to tying effective rigs and ensuring hooks are as sharp as possible, that all becomes lost when our primary connection- the mainline -fails. So just how often should we be changing our mainline and why?

When monofilament fishing line is new, it should be smooth so that it flows off of the spool (be it a fixed spool or multiplier reel) of the reel on the cast. It should be resilient to abrasion and it goes without saying, break at the stated breaking strain. If any of the above are compromised, the line will soon become ineffective and likely cost you not just several sets of end tackle, but possibly a fish too.

If you’re fishing a sandy beach

Chances are that your line will last longer than those casting into rougher terrain. That said, it should still be inspected regularly as sand will act as fine grade sandpaper over time and gradually take away the smooth surface that allows for trouble-free casting. Colored lines will begin to lose their color – which ultimately weakens them- together with their shine. If you notice this happening, it’s time to change. We would recommend changing your 12-18lb (0.28mm-0.37mm) mainline on such venues at least every five trips.

If you’re fishing over rough ground

The signs are far less subtle and it will likely become obvious when you need to change your line. If you’re getting snagged and pulling for a break, your leader knot should hold out pretty well, but if it begins snapping too easily, it’s probably time to change your mainline (presuming your leader knot is up to the job to start with). Likewise, if when you attempt to tie a fresh leader the mainline snaps as you pull the knot tight, you should also change it. If you’re a multiplier user, a rough and damaged line will be noticeable as it runs beneath your thumb. 

Shockleaders themselves are no different and the same principals should be applied. As the job of the shockleader is to take the full force of the cast, a compromised leader is potentially dangerous and MUST be changed as soon as possible. If you have any doubts in your mind, change it. Tapered shock leaders are obviously more vulnerable and the lower diameter end tied to the mainline should be inspected often. Again, if in doubt, don’t cast out.

Monofilament or Braided Line?

The three enemies of monofilament fishing line are generally considered as the following-

  • Sunlight (UV rays)
  • Saltwater
  • Physical abrasion

But what about braid?

Braid has some tremendous properties. Many anglers use it from the shore and used it over clean ground together with a conventional mono shock leader, it will last for a long, long time.

Two years is not out of the way, so the seemingly high initial price is actually a good investment.

Thicker braids are favored over rough ground, but a mono leader that will be in contact with the sea bed and take the wrath of a gnarly terrain should still be used. Braid used in this environment should be inspected more regularly and again, if it shows signs of deterioration, change it.

The above observations and advice should be applied to both boat and shore fishing reels.

Changing Line

The first thing you’ll need to do is remove the damaged line from the reel. There are many inexpensive electronic line strippers now available that make this a doddle, but be sure to dispose of the discarded line in a responsible way.

Once you have removed the old line, you may notice salt residue on the reel’s spool and it’s worthwhile cleaning this off to prevent possible corrosion setting in.

Next, tie your new line to the spool of the reel by going twice around it and securing it with a uni knot. Whether you are loading a fixed spool or multiplier reel, consistent tension should be applied by firm fingertip pressure. A line spooler is invaluable for this job and will take the majority of the memory out of the line which in turn should lead to trouble-free casting. Don’t overfill the spool and in the case of shore fishing or uptide casting reels, always allow room for a shock leader.

Changing Braided Line

The same principles apply to filling a reel with braid, with a couple of extra pointers that should also be adhered to. Firstly, add a small amount (say 50 meters or so) of the monofilament backing line to the spool. We would recommend a budget line of around 20-30lb breaking strain that will cushion the braid and prevent it from potentially tightening down on the spool to the point that it might slip, giving the impression that the clutch is loose even when it is locked uptight. Tie the braid to the backing mono and wind it on wet as tightly as you possibly can.

A good way to do this is to place your spool in a sink of water and grip the braid with a soaked tea towel. This will assist the braid in settling and prevent any loose coils that could cause problems on a fixed spool reel when casting. Although some experienced anglers use braid on shore casting multiplier reels, it can have its problems and if you’re new to fishing it is probably best avoided.

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