Something I find myself doing probably more than I’d like is changing my fishing line. Oftentimes, I change just the size of line on a particular rod or reel. To some, it might seem pointless to strip all the line off of a reel that was just spooled up a few weeks or even a few days before. It’s a little bit of work, changing line back and forth, but to get the best results, that’s what it takes sometimes.
If I’m being honest, I probably don’t change my line near as much as I should. We all tend to see just how much we can get out of a spool of line, and that can catch up with us at the most inopportune times.
High quality lines like what I use (Seaguar brand) can be costly, so it’s important to consider the difference between when I should change line and when I have to change line.
First, let’s consider the have-to conditions:
If the line is breaking with much less tension than normal, it’s a good time to change it. This problem is more common with traditional monofilament than fluorocarbon. I haven’t had this problem in a while because I cycle through line so much between events, but it can be an issue. This is especially a problem when rods and reels are used and then put back into storage for weeks or months between trips. The line can begin to break down over time after absorbing water and drying out, and that means what used to be 12-pound test may actually be weaker than 6.6-pound test and could even be weaker than 2-pound and so on. If line seems like it’s breaking way too easily, it’s time to try a fresh spool.
When line gets so low on the spool that I’m not casting as far or as accurately as I know I should, it’s time to make a change. Sometimes, the line will get so low that I begin to reach my backing knot. That’s a real pain to deal with, not to mention that it is a very weak point in my link to a fish. If the backing knot is making it through the reel on the occasional cast, it’s definitely time to change line.
Finally, I have to change line if the reel I intend to use for a particular technique has the wrong type or size of line on it. I can throw a small crankbait on 17-pound Invis-X, but it’s not going to run right – not to mention that casting distance and accuracy are going be off.
And then there are the times when we should change line but push it a little too far:
After a major backlash. If you fish with baitcasting reels, there are going to be backlashes. It’s just the nature of the beast. The worst ones occur when we least expect them. Yep, even KVD has backlashes. Usually, this happens when the bait hits something that you were totally unaware of early in the cast. Whatever the case, a deep backlash can lead to problems later on, even if you are able to pick it out and get back to fishing.
Fluorocarbon is an amazing line with low visibility, abrasion resistance, low stretch and great sensitivity; however, it does not like to be crimped in any way. When the loose line of a backlash forms with many loops overlapping each other, those loops can get pinched together. The end result is that there are many weak spots in the line. Picking and pulling at a loop caused from even a minor backlash can cause a weak point that can come back to haunt an angler later. If there’s a reel that’s been backlashed severely in practice for a tournament, it’s important to get that line changed out before the first day of the event.
Line can begin to show some wear after a lot of casting. Even the best quality rod guides still impart some friction on the line as it zings through cast after cast. Fishing in the wind can cause some extra line slap on the guides and rod blank, too. Over time, the line begins to show a little wear. Tiny white spots may appear periodically along the line, and some flattening may even be visible. This indicates weakening in the line, and although I’ve been able to fish through a couple more trips with it in that condition, it would be best to change.
Line twist also could cause major problems. Line twist is a common issue with spinning reels. The spools and rollers are much improved over models of the past, but they still don’t eliminate twist. Dropping baits vertically can lead to line twist over time, as they spiral down with each drop. Braid to fluoro leader setups have helped to deal with this problem some because much of the twist gets transferred to the braid. The braid has much less memory, so the negative effects of twist aren’t as noticeable. Swivel leaders can help as well, but there are trade-offs there, too.
When line twist is bad enough in a spinning setup, it could lead to loops and knots inside the spool or even at the tip of the rod with enough slack in the line. One remedy is to pull off a good bit of line and run it through something with soft tension, like a rolled up towel, to reverse the twist. Some people like to pull a lot of loose line behind the boat to straighten twist but that never worked as well for me. That procedure, followed with a good stretch of the line, sometimes helps, but it seems that it’s not long before the twist finds its way back into the spool.
In the end, there’s no better remedy for twisted line than to go ahead and change it out. Using 10- or 20-pound braid mainline and then fluoro as a leader is a cost-effective way to get the most out of the line when using spinning reels.
Sometimes, it’s as easy as pulling off a section of line that’s been weakened, twisted, etc., until I get far enough into the reel where a section of line hasn’t seen action yet. This can be perfectly good line beneath a section that’s seen its share of work.
Just keep in mind that the farther down the reel spool you go, the closer you get to the backing knot that we discussed earlier. That’s a must-change scenario.
Greg Vinson is a full-time professional angler on the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour. He lives in Wetumpka and grew up fishing on Lake Martin.