Now is the perfect time to change out old gear, organize your tackle box and check your rods and reels for spring, which is almost upon us.
One of the most important items you should consider is your line, that last bit of terminal tackle that makes all the difference in your pursuit.
If you are using braided lines, you will need to use a bit more scrutiny than in the past. Line braid is abrasive and on less expensive rods, and a good many top-end models, will cause wear around line guides. It will create guide grooves and can cut the heaviest lines very quickly.
Due to the nature of the braid groove, cuts are very small and unnoticeable, until you have a fish on and your line breaks. Closer examination will reveal that your knot did not fail, but your line was cut. Inspect your rods closely if using braided lines to ensure the guides are not damaged.
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Braided fishing line has its advantages and disadvantages. First off, a smaller diameter allows more line to be spooled on your reel. Stretch and line coil, or memory is almost non-existent and casting distance is improved greatly.
Possibly the biggest disadvantage is the smaller diameter will drive itself down into the spool between windings. As a result, backlashes -- or professional over-runs, as I like to call them -- are prominent.
There is a simple solution that will save you money and provide another change of line when needed. Add a bit of backing to your reel spool using monofilament line. Braided line will slip on a bare spool, and monofilament allows a more secure tie-in. When you wind on braided line, use a floor weight to add tension and prevent spaces between each wind of the reel spool.
A little trick I learned from my early battles with braided lines is to drop the spools in a bucket of warm water an hour or so before spooling. It's a simple matter of drawing the line through a soft cloth while winding the reel, this ensures a consistent diameter and more evenly distributed layers on the reel spool.
The unused portion of your braided line can be used on smaller reels or serve as a spare when your line is due for another change.
LAUNCH RAMP TIP
When backing down the ramp, put your tow vehicle in neutral for safety. Wet footwear will make brake pedals slippery, and the chance of your foot slipping and hitting the gas could be costly.
With age comes wisdom -- or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof.
I've lived a little bit of life and learned a few things along the way. This usually occurs as often by failing as it does by succeeding. Most of the things I have learned come from first-hand experience, and a good many came from those with whom I have shared the outdoors, among the woods and waters of the Lowcountry.
I've learned that: