In my last blog we looked at the major advantages of braid lines against monofilament line when lure fishing for bass. Now we need to consider the correct way to load modern spinning reels with super braid lines.
I like to soak new braid, still on the supply spool, in luke warm water. Leave the braid in the water for a good hour or more to fully soak the braid. This helps the braid to load better under pressure on to the reel spool.
Modern spinning reel spools designed for braid tend to have either two rubber O-rings as is the case on the ABU Soron reels, one at the top and one at the bottom of the spool, or sport a rubber band round the middle of the spool, as is the case with the Penn Atlantis reels.
When working with a reel fitted with the two O-rings, the line is knotted to form a sliding loop, then the loop placed over the spool and when pulled tight ensure that the line sits inside the O-ring and pull fully tight. Now wind on under heavy tension a couple of dozen wraps of line. The line will weave over the rubber O-rings and ensures that the braid will not slip on the spool when under pressure.
If loading a reel such as the Atlantis, then tighten the loop of line around the centre grip band and pull tight. This initially anchors the line, and after a few turns of line have been added, this will fully lock the line to the spool.
The spools quoted with O-rings or the middle rubber band are specifically designed for braid lines. However there is nothing to stop you loading a normal spinning reel spool with braid. To do this first load the spool to say half depth with a monofilament line of approximately the same breaking strain as the braid, then load the braid on top. The bed of mono grips the spool and again stops the braid spinning round on the spool when under heavy retrieve. Use a double Grinner knot to join the mono to the braid.
Very important now is the amount of pressure used to load the braid line on to the spool. This needs to be done under heavy finger pressure to fully tighten the line around the spool. Also makes sure the spool is positioned to allow the line to come off the spool in a straight line, not sideways and in coils. The Berkley line spooling stations are excellent for holding the spool and make the procedure easier.
With or without a spooling station, run the line through the rod rings and load the line by applying pressure using the thumb, index and second finger. Some anglers use industrial gloves to do this to avoid potential braid cuts and burns, but experienced anglers prefer to use just the fingers to apply the right amount of pressure. If you need to you can also have a second person to hold the supply spool with a pencil running through the centre hole and add heavier finger pressure that way.
Ideally the braid line, when pushed hard by an index finger tip, should not feel to “give” under pressure. It should feel hard and unforgiving to prove that the line has compacted down on to the spool under pressure and is perfectly loaded. If the line feels soft to the finger pressure, then it is not compacted hard enough down on to the spool to fish efficiently. This compact hardness of the line on the spool helps produce a smooth flow of line off the spool when casting, plus reduces a tendency for the braid to form wind knots when casting.
Load the spool to within an eighth of an inch of the spool lip, no more. If you load right to the spool lip the braid, being soft, will literally fall off the end of the spool, plus an overloaded spool also increases the chance of wind knots when casting. If you close the bale arm manually, rather than by turning the reel handle, this also reduces the chances of wind knots.
Now the reel is loaded correctly, the last job is to add a short casting leader of Fluorocarbon line. If using 15lb braid a 15lb leader is fine, for 20lb braid, use 20lb Fluorocarbon leader. The leader needs to be about one and a half times the length of the rod, no more. Join the Fluorocarbon to the braid using a double Grinner knot, which is streamlined for easy running in and out of the rod rings, plus is strong with minimal visual impact for the fish. The clear leader separates the braid from the lure avoiding any chance of a fish associated the braid with danger etc. The leader also protects the end of the expensive braid from rock and snag damage.
Some anglers suggest the Albright and modified Alberto knot as being best for the braid/leader connection, but this knot can come loose after persistent casting, so if you choose this knot, constantly check it.
Following the instructions on loading your spinning reel correctly with braid will ensure you minimise any potential problems and ensure that your reel will cast to maximum range and is capable of fishing for, and fighting, big fish.