Technological advances in tackle can make fishing easier and more productive … or not!
I consider fishing a lot like golf: You can learn the basics in 15 minutes, but you can spend the rest of your life trying to become good at it. But fishermen suffer from a concomitant addiction: collecting fishing tackle. Each time a new rod, reel, lure, plug, line or gadget debuts, the fisherman needs to try it! Sometimes it will replace something already in use, but more times than not, it will not measure up and be relegated to the garage, basement, tackle room or attic. In an effort to help my fellow anglers’ economic well-being, here are some pluses and minuses of various types of fishing tackle.
Baitcasting vs. Spinning Reels
Excluding fly-fishing reels (a whole ’nother addiction), casting a bait or lure over a distance can be accomplished in two ways: with a spinning reel or a baitcaster. Spinners come in only one basic type, while baitcasters come in several: open, closed, level wind, and star or knob drag. Many have other high-tech features like magnets and such. A spinning reel may be the easiest equipment to fish ever invented. You could honestly teach a chimp to do it. Baitcasters — not so easy. My first experience with a baitcaster came with an expert instructor. The factory rep from one of the top manufacturers brought a host of new products for journalists to try. I told him I had never used a baitcaster, and he said, “Easy as pie. Here, let me show you how.” He then proceeded to cast — creating one of the worst “bird’s nests” (a huge, knotted jumble of line on the reel) I had ever seen. Swallowing his embarrassment, he tried again … and a third time … with the same disastrous results.
Obviously, casting a baitcaster can be tricky. But with practice, you can certainly master it. Once you do, casting can be quick, one-handed andaccurate. Even so, you’ll always be able to cast your bait/lure farther with a spinning reel, since it suffers less drag in comparison. Oh, and you can readily switch a spinning reel from left- to right-handed, whereas you can’t with a baitcaster.
Light- vs. Dark-Colored Lures
Ancient proverb: Fishing lures catch fishermen first and fish second. I doubt any professional captain or mate would disagree that if a fish is in feeding mode, you can drag anything in front of it and it will take it. I have caught fish on a banana peel, an old sneaker, a beer can, the top of a pineapple and less savory items.
Old-school wisdom went thusly: Dark water/low light called for dark lures; clear water/good light wanted light colors. Determining what your target species is eating right now always makes your job easier. Captains and guides today have changed that tune. Now, muddy or dark water requires bright colors such as chartreuse, white, silver, gold, pink and yellow. In clear, bright water, choose colors most closely approximating the lure’s live-bait equivalent.
Most fish have rods and cones in their eyes, so they can see color much like humans do. Water has an effect on color, however. The deeper you go, the more red that drops from the spectrum. Bright colors apparently look drab to fi sh in deep water. Darker colors such as blue and black work better at depth. A third school of thought has nothing to do with color. As Alan de Silva, captain of de Mako — one of Bermuda’s top big-game charter boats — says, “It all about the action of the lure!”
Monofilament vs. Braided Line
Stretch certainly constitutes the main difference between monofilament and braided line: mono does, braid doesn’t, making braid more sensitive. Braid — slipperier than mono — runs through rod guides more easily, making for longer casts. Its slipperiness means that tying knots in it requires more care, however. With that said, the proper knot, carefully tied, will be stronger than a comparable knot in monofilament. Even though it’s so slippery, it can eat through rod guides faster than mono does. Go figure! Additionally, braided lines have a narrower diameter, allowing you to fit more of it onto a reel for the
same tensile strength.
After a long fight, mono, which has stretched and relaxed numerous times, can develop weak points, whereas braid won’t. The lack of stretch in braid can be a detriment to your gear, knots and body, though, as the shock when you set a hook gets transferred directly up the line. One area where mono has it all over braid is in abrasion resistance. Rub braid along barnacles, pilings or any sharp edge, and it will part. My problem with braid comes when I tie knots. Wrap it around a hand or a fi
nger and pull it tight, and it will slice right into your skin — and like a paper cut, it really hurts.
You won’t ever find a braided line being touted for its invisibility underwater like so many monofilament and fluorocarbon lines are. Fish will see it, guaranteed. Mono disappears in the water much more readily than braid, and it comes in numerous pretty colors.
Tying knots in mono is easier, and you can trim the excess with your teeth (don’t tell your dentist). Don’t try it with braid! Mono develops memory of whatever it is spooled upon, making casting it problematic after a time. Dragging the paid-out line behind the boat while underway can help eliminate these “coils,” making casting more effective. Both mono and braid suffer UV degradation from sitting in the sun for prolonged periods. And fi nally, the big advantage mono has over braided line is cost.
Mono will set you back only a fraction of braided line.