As the days continue to get longer and the weather seems more and more springlike, a return to regular fishing outings isn’t far off for most of us. With that welcome prospect also comes the need for a little routine tackle maintenance. First on the to-do list should be replacing the line on your spinning reels before that first fishing trip of the season.
I have become somewhat of a fanatic when it comes to having fresh line on my reels, and I now routinely replace my lines after each fishing trip. That may sound a little extravagant or expensive, but after doing so for several seasons now, I’m sold on the peace of mind and top performance that comes with starting each fishing day with fresh spools of line on my reels. I also know a few tips that make replacing your line more often more cost effective too.
Like most anglers in this area, I use light to medium spinning tackle for most of the fishing I do around here. One of my favorite reels holds a little more than 200 yards of 6-pound-test line, but there is no reason strip and replace all of it on each line change. Instead, I just remove and replace about the first 80 yards of line, which is well more line than ever comes into play in a normal fishing situation. Another reason I settled on that number is many brands of quality monofilament line come in 330-yard spools. Therefore, you are able to get four line changes from one of those filler spools.
To facilitate things, the first time I fill a new reel spool, I start by winding it about three-quarters full with some inexpensive line. It makes little sense to use premium-quality line for this, because the line on that portion of the spool is little more than filler. Next, I splice on the good stuff using a blood knot or barrel knot and wind on the last 80 yards of the line I will actually be fishing with. I have used this system for years, and it makes changing line about as quick and economical as possible. And last year, I used more than six miles of 6-pound-test line alone, so I believe I can say I know something about changing line.
Even if you only fish a few times a month, it still makes sense to use the best line possible and to change it often for best performance. For most of the light freshwater spin-fishing I do, I want a line that casts well, has reasonable abrasion resistance and good knot strength. Fortunately, most of the major line manufacturers produce monofilament spinning lines that satisfy those requirements. I’ve fished with just about all the popular brands of spinning line at one time or another and have found few that I couldn’t be satisfied with.
For the past several seasons, the brands of spinning line I’ve used most have been Suffix Seige, Berkley Trilene Sensation and Bass Pro Shops Excel. All of those have performed well under about any conditions in which I’ve put them to the test. In spite of that, I will sometimes talk to other anglers who claim to have had problems with these or other brands of line. All too often, the fault is more with the fisherman than the line.
I’ve already covered the value of using fresh line. It’s also important to make sure new line is wound on the reel properly to prevent line twist. I’ve seen a new line snarl badly on the first few casts because of line twist created during the spooling process. The unhappy angler, of course, will usually blame the line and not his negligence. If you’re not sure how to spool a spinning reel, the owner’s manual for many reels as well as the packaging of some lines provide diagrams showing the proper method.
Expert fishermen tie perfect knots. And perfect knots tend to perform perfectly. If your knots aren’t holding, a little practice is a worthwhile investment of time. Two of the most important knots for freshwater fishing are the improved clinch knot and the Palomar knot.
Even the best line and the best knots will take a beating during the course of a fishing day. Retie your knots often, especially after catching several fish or after putting extra pressure on your tackle when pulling loose from a snag. Also check the last several feet of line frequently for nicks or abrasion. Attention to such details will help get the most out of whatever line you are using as well as making your fishing more enjoyable.