Hopefully everybody had a chance to check out our post last month on the different varieties of fishing line—from monofilament to fluorocarbon, hybrids and braided—and get a little bit more familiar with this essential piece of tackle. Don’t think that you’re done, however—far from it! There are many more line effectiveness factors to know, and today we’re going to continue by exploring line weight and the pound test.
Every spool of fishing line comes marked with a weight in pounds...from as low as 2-pound test to the more ambitious 400-pound test. The number associated with any of these varieties correlates with the amount of tension at which the weakest point in a line will snap.
It’s important to understand that the number provided does not indicate at which weight of fish a line will snap. Although it’s often a good rule of thumb to use line that corresponds with the weight you’re aiming for, there’s no real limit to what you can catch with a smaller line. The record fish caught with a 6-pound test is a black marlin, which came in at more than 735 pounds!
Don’t get too excited—if you’re a beginner, it will be a while before Hemingway writes a novella on your adventures with a 6-pound test line. Reeling in big, fighting fish is a fun challenge for experienced “finesse” fishing enthusiasts, but let’s keep our aims humble for the moment.
Drag is created by a pair of plates within any reel that determines at what point the force delivered by a fish causes line to release. For example, if the drag is set to 25 percent on an 8-pound test line, then it will release when a fish applies roughly 2 pounds of tension.
There is no “go-to” amount of drag to set—everything varies depending on the kind of line you use, what kind of fight you expect from a fish, what kind of action you aim to get from lures or flies, what kind of knots you plan on using, as well as other factors. The best you can do is understand that too much force will break your line, and too little drag can allow a fish to shake a hook loose from the line, and try to find a happy place in-between. Too little drag will also reduce your ability to set the hook firmly
There are some simple tests you can undertake to make sure you’ve got your drag well set.
Try tying your line to your fishing scale and applying a light, smooth pull. Begin with the “loose drag” setting and gradually increase it until you reach the tension you desire. Monitor the force applied on your scale. If you’re using 8-pound test line, then two or three pounds is a good target. If you don’t own a scale, you can experiment with household items with marked weights. Now you can justify buying a three-pound bag of gummy bears (it was all to measure my fishing drag, I swear!).
As with most material goods, use will have an impact on your line and its ability to take tension. If you’ve been fishing on the same stretch of line for a long while, its efficiency will take a hit. Part of this is simple wear and part of this is simple tear—such as nicks and abrasions that form as your line comes into contact with rocks or other debris.
One source of weakened pound limits is inevitable: knots.
There are a number of knots—including the trilene—which have been proven to reach nearly 100 percent efficiency...however many of these will also be tricky for many anglers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with starting with a simpler option, such as an improved clinch knot, as long as you understand that a knot will inherently take away from the “6-pound” test on the label.
Now, if you’re one of those aforementioned finesse fishermen and you’re looking to tackle bigger fish with smaller tackle, you can also get a boost from using our TYEPRO tools. We’ve designed TYEPRO tools specifically to work with smaller lures and line that often result in more bites, and a greater challenge. That said, some of the smallest flies and jigs may not be able to be threaded using our tools, so make sure to visit http://www.tyepro.com/pages/faqs and ensure that your favorite tackle works with our products.