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An Update on Super Lines
By Paul Crawford

One of the hot topics on the water now are the not-quite-so-new  Super Lines. (In 1998, we did a comprehensive review that still applies today). Suler Lines  mostly consist of the woven or braided fiber materials such as DuPont's Kevlar or Allied Signals Spectra, although there are several others that let you assume they are one of the above. I've been using these super lines now for about 3 years and have at least tried it on every rod and/or lure I own, with various success. I've heard this type of line praised and cursed, sometimes in the same breath. I'd thought I'd give the benefit of what I've learned about this line, then let you be the judge if it's right for you.

First let's put to bed several misconceptions about what this line does or doesn't do. None of the lines will; a) ruin your guides, b) break your rods, c) require some exotic knot, d) never break, or e) become an unmanageable mess the first back lash. With the ceramic guides virtually all high quality bass rods come with these days, this line doesn't stand a chance to even dent it. Now it does sound terrible going through the guides on a cast, so that it's carving its way through the tip is a natural assumption, just not a true one. Even after a couple of thousand hours of fishing on some of my rods, I've never seen the first sign of wear on any of the eyes. I've never broken a rod with the stuff either. My partner once went through 3 flipping sticks in one month with 20 lb. mono, but no problems with braided line for him either. The trick to this seems to be to avoid fishing a rod much below 20 degrees air temperature and not lock the drag down all the way prior to a big hook set. Also a pretty good idea is to not use the rod to try to break the line. All of the lines will break, sometimes with surprisingly little effort. If you are going to break, do just the same as with any other heavy weight line, grab the reel, (don't depend on the real seat), and pull straight back. With anything less than a flipping hook and 50 lb+ line, you'll come undone by breaking the line or straightening the hook. Most often, you'll pull open the eye of the hook get back the knot, much more on that later. As far as "professional overruns", this stuff will take one fairly easy, but it's just as easy to undo and, unlike monofiliment, won't damage the line.

 Properties of Super Lines

 The super lines share a number of physical properties which set the aside from mere monofiliment. They have returned to the days of braiding lines, a very similar process to the one used to make Grampa's cotton line in the 40s. The difference is in the fibers used for the braid. These materials are several times stronger than steel, (which in this diameter really isn't saying all that much), between fairly and extremely flexible, depending are the particular material, and have a very close kit molecular structure, which says they are extremely abrasion resistant. The material itself has an extremely high yield point, which means it won't stretch at all before breaking, yet is one of the few high yield materials which isn't particularly brittle, which is what makes it possible to use as kite string, (the original intention), and fishing line.

So what does all of this mean to the fisherman. Compared to monofiliment, the line is several times stronger for a given line diameter. Most fishermen would agree 30 lb. test mono doesn't cast as well as say 4 lb. test. Now you can have the tiny diameter and still have all of the strength. You have to be careful with this one, since you are use to having line which is under rated in strength because the manufacturer doesn't want the flak for his lines breaking at the weakest point. With the braided lines, they are also under rated, but you won't find any point that you think the line is about to let go, it just simply goes with no warning. This leads to the conclusion that the line isn't nearly as good as it actually is, it's just different. More about this later. For now, quit thinking about line that will never break. After playing with all of the high rated toys, say 50 lb. test and above, you'll end up back at something in the 20 to 30 lb. range, or just about where you were to start with. The difference is in the other properties and the reduced diameter. The smaller diameter means you can throw this stuff a mile, have less resistance through the water even if it has a rougher texture, and works wonderfully in the wind.

Since the line is braided, the sides don't have to stretch for the line to bend. This gives you a line with no memory at all. You can wad this stuff up in a little ball and it will stay that way, even if happens to be on your reel at the time, (read "very ugly backlash.") This is one of the lines most endearing properties, and one of its biggest damnations. Since this stuff doesn't keep a coil at all, it solves one of the biggest draw backs we'd had with spinning reels, and works exceptionally in that application. It also means that even if you do have a professional overrun, it's very easy to pick out and will do little or no damage to the line. It also means if you strip it off the reel you can very easily have it tie itself in knots of very tiny proportions. It also has a very pronounced tendency to backlash if you get sloppy with your reel settings. The trick to avoid this is to set your anti-backlash control tighter and give back some of that increased casting distance from the smaller diameter in return for fewer backlashes. Everything in life is a trade off.

No stretch is the biggest advantage of the line. It means very solid hook sets with reduced effort, and a feel of the lure you never dreamed possible. You when first try this stuff, most people actually have too much feel and it confuses them. Even the tiniest weed or rock in 30 feet of water feels like a major hydrilla ball. Let a crank bait or spinner bait touch a weed and you'll swear it's a big bite. It takes some getting use to, and the first big fish that hits it will jar you to your toes, but after a short time, it simply becomes normal again. No more "mush bite" on Carolina rigs, even with hands of stone you'll feel the tick on this stuff. The advantage is most especially true when fishing across the wind. You catch more fish simply because you'll feel bites you never knew were there.

Close behind no stretch has to be how well these lines stand up to fishing. The material is so hard that wood and weeds don't stand a chance against it. If you are one of those folks who loves to flip into heavy cover, have we got a line for you! Even if you normally check your line and retie every hour, you may be able to go A YEAR without retying. The only time I have ever retied my flipping stick is to change baits or hooks. I've yet to break off, although several of my hooks have seen better days. You can saw this stuff all day long inside a fish attractor, and the worst you might see is a bit of a fuss on the outer layer, which I personally can't tell effects the line strength. Now meaning that the weeds won't cut the line, I'm here to tell you your teeth or fingernail clippers don't have a chance either. Uncle Lou out at Culprit has a special pair of scissors for about $6 which you will need to tie up this stuff. About the only other good option is if you happen to be a smoker, all of this stuff melts real easy, (read "be careful when you smoke and fish.") Fair warning, if you take Momma's stainless steel sewing scissors, they will work for a short while, but you won't be popular when you get home.

Now, before let's all yell "Hooray" and bury monofiliment beside bamboo rods, not all is rosy in paradise. It turns out this material is so slick, it won't take any type of dye for long, so get use to the idea of fishing with solid white line. It also turns out we've grown to depend on the stretch and memory of monofiliment to get the correct action out of our lures. In addition to all of our lures, our reels were make to handle monofiliment, not braids, so there are a few problems there as well. Not to mention that even though the price has been slashed by half in the last couple of years, you can still expect to pay up to 10 times as much for this frustration. And to top it off, not all braids are the same, and even lines made of the same material are substantially different from different manufacturers.

Brand Name Differences

 Let me clearly state the following opinions are mine, and I'm damn proud of them. I'm going to try to tell or warn you about all of the brands I've tried, and my experience with them. They aren't what the manufacturers would put in their ads, but I will certify they are true. With that said, I'm going to list the brands in reverse order, (worst to first), of what I use and recommend, and try and tell you why. There is about 20 brands out there, so we'll stick with the major suppliers commonly available either locally or mail order.

Berkley - The only brand I absolutely recommend stay away from like the Black Plague. Berkley's try at this, and everyone needs a gimmick, was to appeal to those who couldn't tie a good knot. With the largest size of the braided lines, the knots tend to slip before the line breaks since the material is rather slick. Their answer was a cored line with the braid around a solid core which wasn't as flexible as the braid alone. This was suppose to keep the knots tied up the line strength. It may way have done it, but no one has ever had the line on long enough to find out. Fortunately for me, I didn't buy this stuff, my partner's in-laws sent it from out of state for him to try. After about 8 hours fishing, the braid had separated and frayed every 18 inches or so for the entire length of the line. The line was then only as strong as the core, which wasn't very, and retained none of the properties of the original braid. In 8 hours it had turned into a rather poor grade of monofiliment suitable only for the trash can. Reflection now says even new out of the box, it wasn't that good to begin with.

Stren - This is a Kevlar based line, undoubted because Dupont also owns the patent rights to the material. It's not actually all that bad, just a tick below the Spectra and other polymers used by the rest of the world. It may be the best of the lines for flipping heavy cover since the Kevlar has even more abrasion resistance than the impressive resistance of other lines. It just has a bit more memory because it's more brittle than the other materials. The down sides are Kevlar resists a knot more than other lines, (it's slicker), and if you kink it, it will weaken at that point. Not bad, but there are better.

Bass Pro Spectra / Cabella's Ripcord - Both of these brands seem to be the identical item, based on one of the original weavers supply Lynch Line. Made of 100% Spectra, it has all of the properties which are making the lines famous. The drawback is that it is not woven as tightly as the other lines, hence has a larger diameter and frays slightly easier. Available primarily in 35 lb. and up sizes, the quality control is not as good as other manufacturers so the breaking point of the weakest area is unpredictable. None of the problems matter for 50 and 80 lb. test flipping line, so it is my choice for that application. The real upside of these brands is they cost about 1/2 of what other sources demand. A good choice for trying out braided line for short line applications.

Fenwick Ironthread - Made a Japanese polymer, Fenwick's claim to fame has been the wide range of line size and color they have offered. Available from 2 lb., (slightly smaller than sewing thread), to 130 lb. in 3 colors, they seem to have a line for every application. Their only problems have been their material takes a dye even worst than most, so bleaches almost immediately, and their quality control. On the spools of Ironthread I've tried, I always seem to come across a section which is much weaker than the rest, so breaks noticeably easier. This can be overcome by resetting the reel, but I don't like to guess when, and don't like that I have to reset at all for premium priced line. I do still use a 12 lb. test for ultralight fishing but may switch soon as lighter lines become generally available from other sources. Still, it's hard to beat their off brown color for extremely clear water, if it would just stay that color for more than a week.

Silver Braid - Another Japanese product, this one's gimmick is a thin coating over the braid. This coating is suppose to make casting easier, (just makes it quieter as far as I can tell), but does give the line a slight amount of memory. It's bright green color disappears surprisingly well in even clear water while remaining very visible above the water. The coating wears off fairly quickly, (the stuff is still slick), but it does seem to retain it's color longer than other lines. It's my choice for Spinner Baits and certain large top water lures fished on heavy tackle, like big chuggers and Dalton Specials. The perfect choice for the new A.C. Plugs.

Spider Wire - The most widely advertised, best known, and most expensive of the braids. Still, for my money it's the pick of the litter. Spider Wire has the tightest weave, and therefore the smallest diameter of any of the lines. Their newest product, Spectra 2000, is a full 40% smaller than the regular Spider Wire, which was already the smallest on the market for a given strength. Still fades, but will easily accept one of the lure dyes on the market to recolor the line. The main reason I like their brand is their exceptional quality control. You just don't find weak points in the spool, and it is consistent between spools. Spectra 2000 costs half again what most of the lines cost, but to me it's worth it. The only reason I don't have it on all of my reels is my 2 year old original Spider Wire still is far from worn out.


As I mentioned before, you will have to get use to a new scale in measuring strength. Since the braids do not stretch, the apparent breaking point feels lower than it actually is. For a rough conversion, I would say that 30 lb. braid will break about where a good quality 20 lb. mono will break. The reason for difference is not all rating, some is fact. When you snap a hook set with 20 lb. mono, it will stretch, taking some of the shock out of the line. Not so with braids, the shock goes through the entire line and the instantaneous forces generated by the lack of acceleration of the fish on the other end can be enormous. Get past all the engineering and you'll find you need to buy about 1/3 heavier rating in a braid than a comparable monofiliment. So, if you use say 14 lb. monofiliment, try 20 lb. or so braid for exactly the same strength. To make best use of the line, move up in strength to say 30 lb., which in Spectra 2000, has the same diameter as 6 lb. monofiliment. That way you get added strength and reduced diameter. For flipping, if you use 30 lb. monofiliment, the 50 lb. braid will do just fine. If you insist on being able to straighten out a jig hook, the 80 lb. will do the job if you don't rip the reel seat or bend the spool doing it.

For spinning reels, my personal favorite is 20 Spectra 2000, having the same diameter as 4 lb. mono. Since I use spinning reels for things I can't use something else for, light line is good! If you are in the Roland Martin camp and use spinning rods as your first choice, the 30 lb. test will out perform most of your set up, especially your rod. Be aware of possible spinning rod tip damage! Most spinning rods have the guide support for the tip soldered to the back of the tube, keeping it out of the line's way as it moves through the tip. This is great for casting rods since if the line puts excessive pressure on the tip, the eye bends out and the supports become big torsion bars resisting the tension by pushing against the rod tube. If you turn the eye over, such as a spinning rod tip, and apply the same line tension, the support bars are pulling against the solder joint, away from the rod tube. Translation, a spinning rod tip's guide is only as strong as the solder joint. Be very careful when going to line strengths with a higher rating than the rod's label suggests. Spinning rods are normally rated, and limited, by the rod tip's strength. Other than this limitation, you'll find braided line as the best thing that ever happened to spinning gear. No memory, says the line will resist, then ignore the twist of both being placed on and off the reel, and of drag slip. You can very safely use the reel's drag with braided line instead of trying to back play the fish with the handle. It will be a refreshing change to actually use your anti-reverse and drag! By the way, setting the drag correctly will also minimize the chance of damaging your rod tip, even on a hook set.


Unless you happen to use Stren's Kevlar, this is much ado about nothing. I routinely use my old standby Palomar Knot to attach just about every lure I own and break the knot even less than I did when using the same knot with monofiliment. The same can be said by my partner, who uses the Improved Cinch Knot. Both knots seem to work very well and few if any of our breakoffs can be traced to the knot.

Kevlar is a bit different. Most assume Kevlar is slicker or the weave is tighter, neither of which is true compared to all Spectra brands. The difference is Kevlar is less compressible, so the knot can't tighten down on itself as well. This can be cured by a variety of new knots most of which are old knots with the line doubled, (a doubled Triline Knot works exceptionally well much to the disappointment of Dupont and delight of Berkley.) Another cure is Stren's Knot Glue which is a quick drying water proof super glue. I avoid the problem by using a different line, but for Kevlar fans, it will work with some effort.

Fenwick's Ironthread is another standout just because the knots fail a bit more often. This is because their polymer is not quite as flexible as the others and can be slightly damaged by the knot tying process. It's still not bad, but a line failure will normally occurs at the knot, which is knot all together bad.

Regardless of which knot you use, there is an interesting problem to be aware of. Where you once were checking the line for nicks and kinks, now check the hook eye. The braided lines are so strong and small, they can easily work themselves around to the gap left to make the eye. When this happens, you get nothing back except the knot. If you pull your hook out of wood or rock, in addition to seeing if the tip is bent, see if you have opened the eye gap. This is naturally more of a concern with small hooks, but I have left a disturbing number of 4/0 hooks on the bottom by pulling through the eye.

Rods and Reels

Despite what the manufacturers of the "braid design" reels say, just about any high quality reel will work. The key feature is having a good drag which will reliably give on an over strong hook set, preventing equipment damage. I use Shimano reels and my partner uses Diawa. Neither of us have had any unexpected failures or damage which has been caused by the line. The small diameter line we use will dig into itself on our spools, but nothing we can't immediately fix with a gentle tug. I'm sure the wide wrap design of the "braid reels" are excellent for extremely heavy line, such as 80 or 130 pound. Since I don't use 80 lb. for anything, I'll tell you all my reels handle up to 50 pound just fine. Keep your reel in good condition and clean and service it on a regular basis, (regardless of line), and you'll do fine too.

Rods are a different matter. I have changed my rod selection for using braided lines. In general, I go lighter by one tip weight for every application. For example I've gone from a 4 tip, (med/heavy) to a 3 tip, (medium), for worms. Carolina Rigs went from a 5 tip (Heavy) to a 4 tip. Crank baits stayed at a 2 tip, but I tell you later that's because I don't use braided line for crank baits. The reason for the lighter action is the lack of stretch in the line. With monofiliment, I grew to depend on the line compensating for the fish as I played him in. Since braids don't stretch, I've had to go to a lighter action and let the rod tip make up for the lack of line stretch. I could get away with this since no stretch also meant I didn't need the extra rod backbone for the hook set. Even with my flipping, I've gone from a "flipping stick" to a "pitching stick" which has a lighter action at the tip. The one exception to this is my spinner baits, which I've always considered "cue stick bubba fishin" anyway. Just remember to stay within the rod's rated line range with spinning rods, and you should have no problems.


I don't throw every lure made, but I think I've covered most categories. The following is my thoughts on braided line performance to date. I do reserve the right to change my mind at most any time.

Texas Rigged Worms - The most popular lures in the area seem to work great on braid. The rumor that the line, especially after bleaching white, would put off the bite has been unfounded. We tried side by side testing of braided line verses our old stand by monofiliment for over six months with no perceptible difference between number or quality of bite. Since the added feel of the braid is especially important in deep water where I often use a Texas Rig, this is a sure winner in my book.

Carolina Rigged Worms - The one application of universal acceptance is Carolina Rigging. The only difference is what type of leader to use. I personally think a monofiliment leader works the best and adds to the action. I also like the mono to act as a shock leader for big hook sets. My partner, on the other hand, prefers to use a braided line leader as well. Again, no perceptible difference in the number of quality of bites. Just go with what makes you comfortable. By the way, a 12 or 14 lb. leader is also handy for those times you're hung and need to break the line. The monofiliment still breaks easy so I save alot on weights and swivels.

There is a word of caution on this. If you use glass beads, (which I do exclusively), a chipped bead will cut the line like a hot knife through butter. Using a brass weight with glass beads will aggravate the problem. This really isn't any different that with mono, you just notice it more since it is always unexpected. There will be times when you set the hook and don't even get back a smile. It's all part of the game and something you get use to. On average, you'll still boat more fish than you ever have, so just realize what's going on and don't sweat the small stuff.

Spinner Baits - One of my favorite lures works wonders on this line. Even the smallest blades feel like an Evanrude on the other end. Not much way to miss a bite on this stuff either. The only draw back is the weakest link in the system is now the spinner bait wire, so you do tend to break a few baits if you stay hung up most of the day, (at least you get the blade back.) Some others feel like the line has too much feel and causes to the jerk the bait away from a fish. It's the same school as likes fiberglass rods over graphite for spinner baits and crank baits. Personally, I can use all of the extra feel I can get.

Soft Jerk Baits - This is a problem category. I love the added feel of the braided line, but have found out that the lack of memory in the line is killing the normal action of my bait. As a compromise, I have started using a monofiliment leader for the baits, and this works wonders for me. If you don't like the idea of tying up a leader with the associated tendency for the bait to slowly sink, then I'd stick with monofiliment. Some other users of braided line either don't think there is a difference or wax the final 12 inches of their lines to retain some spring. I will say that side by side tests of monofiliment vs. all braid show the monofiliment will out catch the braid about 3 to 1. There does not seem to be a difference between the braid with a leader and monofiliment.

Hard Jerk Baits / Crank Baits - This is the one rod I took the braided line off and was very happy. I found out that even with a 2 tip, (light action), I still tended to pull treble hooks out of a fish before he got in the boat. The added stretch of monofiliment is an advantage for treble hook applications. I recommend staying with your monofiliment for this one. By the way, as with soft jerk baits, the line does seem to kill the action and you get noticeably less bites. My partner, who just loosens his drag and uses braided line because he shares the rod between other applications, has taken to using a monofiliment leader like I do with Soft Jerk Baits. This does correct the lure action.

Top Waters - I have a cut off point for this one. My personal cut off is 5/8 oz lures. Below that, I feel like the lack of memory of the line and the loss of the spring in the line hurts the action. In addition, playing a fish, I can easily pull out small treble hooks, just like a crank bait. But over 5/8 oz, the story changes. For Spooks, Magnum Jitterbugs, Dalton Specials, and the like, I've always had trouble using heavy enough line to control them. With the braided line I get the addition control even at extreme casting range and can get a very solid hook set, which has been hard at long range with monofiliment. Since the treble hooks on these large baits are 1/0 or better, loosing the fish during a fight is not as great of concern if I already have a good hook set.

Jigs - Ranks up there between Sex and Sliced Bread. Use It!

Jigging Spoons - You have to be careful with this. The added sensitivity is a definite plus, but the lack of memory is a problem if you don't stay in control. If you just let the lure flutter down any old way, the line will very quickly get tangled. Adding a leader doesn't seem to help much. If you are good with a jigging spoon, I suspect you have enough control to enjoy fishing the braided line. If you are just starting, or only use a jigging spoon on rare occasions, sticking with monofiliment will most likely improve your day.

Swimming Spoons - I really like using braided line for this application. The abrasion resistance lets me throw into the deepest cover all day long without worrying about scraping the line. The added sensitivity lets you tell between just another weed a very light bite. All of my swimming spoons have a tying ring anyway, so action is not a problem. For this application, it's a winner.

Flipping - The American Express of Fishing Line. Don't Leave Home Without It.

Tube Jigs and Grubs - One of the few applications where the lack of memory actually improves the lure action. Stay with the smaller sizes, with less water resistance, and you'll get improved action on the drop which will turn into several extra bites a day. All this and you actually get to feel the bites too!

Ultra Lights - In addition to tubes and grubs, I also throw weenie worms and tiny crank baits, along with the assorted 3" Slug-O or Beetle Spin. If you stay with the same test or slightly higher line, you get improved action and the line will disappear in water. When using weenie worms or Slug-Os, I still put a piece of monofiliment as a shock leader, just as I do with Carolina rigs. Most of crank baits in this size start coming with either a tiny swivel or snap ring, so action is not a problem. Exerting too much pressure on the tiny hooks is difficult to do with very light action rods, but keep a loose drag just in case. Some trade offs here but I still keep braided line on my spool.

Micro Lights - Assuming you use 2 - 4 lb. braided line maximum, this is more fun that the law allows. The added sensitivity is unreal and the lure action unbelievable. Your line is almost precisely the same diameter as air, only stronger. The only challenge bigger than landing a 3 lb. bass on this tackle is trying to tie on a bait without glasses.

Fishing the Super Lines

The biggest differences in fishing Super Lines are the reel settings and hook sets. Once you get use to the feel of the lures, the rest is simple. You may find it surprisingly difficult to get the correct drag set on your reel. When you test your drag, you have been use to the stretch in the line between your hand and the reel, which is now gone. Set the drag where it will just give a bit when you set the hook. If you're one of those folks who set their hook with the same motion they swing a bat, go back to reeling down and popping the hook with your arms and wrists. The only time you need a bigger hook set is with a Carolina, which is still less than half of what you use with the same rig now. DO NOT compensate for casting distance! The hook set should be the same for a mile long cast or right under the boat. The only time you have to worry about slack is if the wind has a bow in your line, then reel up to the fish before setting. If you start to loose fish you stick, then the problem can just as easy be too tight of drag as too loose. Chances are pretty good if you use a big hook set of the hook ripping the fish's mouth, and without having a limber rod, the least amount of slack is going to loose the fish. Once the fish is hooked, reel like hell! You are not going to get the benefit of spring tension with the braided line, so it will be much easier for the fish to get some slack, hence the recommendation to go to a lighter rod action.

About the only other thing I can think of is to stick to one line for a lure class. If you try to switch between monofiliment and braid throwing say a Texas Rig Worm on both, you'll get frustrated in a hurry. The feel is different, the hook set is different, it will cast different, and you'll never remember which one you have in your hands when that big bite comes. If you're going to try braided line, pick a lure and just worry about one line at a time. The feel of the lure is already going to be different than anything else, so it's not as big a deal to switch lines when you switch lures as well. Make sure you take a few practice trips with the braid to get use to it before trying it with money on the line. Even a new race car needs a few practice laps before going to competition.

Paul Crawford

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