W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Sam Anderson
Using Abrasion Resistant Line for Trophy Walleyes
By Sam Anderson
Picture early spring conditions, including icy guides, water in the 30° F range, numb fingers, big powerful keen eyed fish capable of stripping line at any time, rocky boulder strewn clear water habitat with overhanging branches and fallen trees along the bank. This is also a line nightmare as to which line is best to use for these conditions.
Before popularization of structure fishing, walleye fishermen typically beat the banks. Offshore walleyes remained unmolested, undiscovered, even unsuspected. But as anglers turned to deep weed edges in natural lakes, and humps and channels in reservoirs, deeper walleye got pounded. Anglers moved away from abrasive agents in line for more feel and less stretch.
Recently I had an opportunity to deep sea fish off the coast of Maui, Hawaii, using Berkley Trilene Big Game line, I landed a 165 lb. Blue Marlin. The battle lasted 45 minutes and when the fish was brought aboard the boat, I immediately noticed how nicked up the line was. Even the line that was far from the lure and the fighting fish showed signs of being abused during our battle. I couldn't help, but think that as walleye fishermen, we sometimes open water troll for some pretty good size walleyes. The line is a lot smaller than the line I used to catch the Marlin, but I wouldn't hesitate to suggest that even that line would show signs of use in the battle to bring aboard a trophy walleye.
Open water trolling, the fastest growing segment of the walleye world, trolling lures behind planer boards, and downrigger balls, all demand that hooks set themselves. Rods are in holders and if everything isn't in sync, fish routinely escape. The system works best with medium stretch lines that can withstand shock.
These stiffer lines abraid less, transmit vibrations better, increase bottom feel and can set hooks faster. The primary function of these lines, however, is to present baits and haul heavy fish out of dense wood or rock cover.
In monofilament line there are between 8 to 10 different polymers having properties considered desirable in fishing line. Each polymer is a form of nylon. Two polymers can be combined to create copolymer monofilaments. According to scientists at Berkley, Trilene XT has always been a copolymer.
Alloys (blends) produce novel properties. Manufactures can accentuate compromise characteristics like tensile strength, abrasion resistance, knot strength, limpness, controlled stretch memory, shock resistance, or break strength.
If I am jigging I prefer to use a monofilament line that gives me some stretch. The reason for this is that I am directly over the fish when jigging and I want the line to give a little when I make the hookset. This allows me to get the fish to the surface quickly and by adding stretch to the formula the fish can run and yet not get off because there is no slack in the line. Many fish are lost at the boat, so you want a line that gives you some leeway at the boat and will help the fish to stay hooked. The line that I use is not expensive line, it is simply Berkley Trilene XL. I do want my line to be abrasion resistant especially while jigging in and around rocks. I also want it limp so I can cast it a long way.
In trolling situations I will probably stay with the monofilament line, but I may choose an 8 lb. test or even 10 lb. test. I again like the stretching features of monofilament when trolling. The fish stays hooked longer and as long as you keep a steady retrieve on the fish.
If a person was to use super line or fused line you might be able to feel the strike of the fish sooner, but with no stretch many fish are lost at the boat. That is not to say that when you are trolling you should only use monofilament line. I will periodically use lead core line. I like lead core line because it gets my lures down to the bottom and keeps them in the strike zone longer. I have used lead core on open flats and it works very well. It has a high tensile strength and very low stretch. Keep in mind with the low stretch you have to keep your hand on the rod at all times. When the fish is hooked it is a steady retrieve all the way back to the boat.
Last year Berkley introduced "Vanish" a fluorocarbon that has been spun into a fishing line. It looks and feels like monofilament. However, unlike nylon or braided lines, fluorocarbon has nearly the same light refractive index as water, so it blends in with the aquatic environment better.
Fluorocarbon lines have less stretch than monofilament yet more than braided line, making them more sensitive than the mono and a little more forgiving than braid.
Another difference is in water absorption. Monofilament absorbs water and weakens during fishing; fluorocarbon doesn't. And because of its density, the new line sinks faster, which some anglers say gets lures to the bottom faster and enables crankbaits to run slightly deeper. It does have some shortcomings because it is a little stiffer than monofilament Berkley recommends that it not be used in spinning rods over the 8 lb. test range. On the other hand it can be fished in any baitcaster reel. To tie your bait onto Vanish fluorocarbon, I would highly recommend a Trilene knot, wrapped six or seven times, and then wet before clinching the knot.
When I am faced with tough spring conditions whether it is tolling or casting to the shoreline, I will use these lines. I know if that trophy walleye loves my lure and presentation that I will be holding a trophy rather than wishing my line could of stood up to all the riggers that fish had to offer.
Hope to see you on the water this spring!
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