With the weather hitting the 70′ mark yesterday, I started thinking about what kind of line I will be putting on the reels this year. The reels will be spooled up to match the target species of fish, and the methods used to catch them. Both monofilament and braids have their place, as well as fluorcarbon lines. You should replace your mono lines every year, and reverse your braided lines as well.
There are places you can take your reels to get spooled that have a machine, but I prefer doing it at home. That way you control how the line is put on your reel in both the tension and speed. You can do it with someone holding the spool while you crank the handle, or there are different tools you can purchase. Berkley has a small line winding station that really works well for casting, spinning and fly reels.
Panfish needs vary, as there are three main ways you can fish for them. There is casting, using a slip bobber, and deep vertical jigging. These methods can be used all season long in combination or by themselves, while targeting bluegill, crappe and perch.
Choose a mono line for casting, either in 4 lb or 6 lb weight. For most applications 4 lb is perfect, you might want to go with 6 lb if there are weeds in the areas you fish. Good brands to use are Berkley XL in 4 or 6 lb, and 4 lb P-line X-tra Strong. The P-line comes in a green finish and is rated lower than its actual breaking point, while the XL is a smooth casting line.
While using a slip bobber, or even drifting over a weedbed, choose either a mono or fluorcarbon line. In this application, 2 lb would be best suited. The reason being that this is either a stationary presentation, or one that is slowly moving through an area. The smaller line gives an angler more of a stealth approach and the best chance of getting a bite.
Vertical jigging requires a line that doesnt stretch. This applies to mid-summer bluegill and crappie on the inland lakes, as well as perch out on Lake Erie. The braided lines work best for this. There are many brands with various weights to choose from. Power Pro offers an 8 lb, with the diameter of 1 lb monofilament, in three color choices. If you fish by feel alone, the moss green is the color to have. If you are a line watcher, or tightliner, then yellow or red would be your best choices. Berkley Fireline is another choice, that comes in a 4 lb/1lb dia. Color choices are smoke, or flame green.
You can employ a number of tactics when it comes to bass fishing. In a lot of cases, 6 or 8 lb will be more than enough, but there are several options available depending on the number of rods you want to have rigged up. If you want to finesse a bite, then 6 lb mono would be your choice. Casting crankbaits would require either 8 or 10 lb mono, depending on the size of the lure. If you want to pitch jigs into heavy cover, choose 17 to 25 lb mono or 40 to 80 lb braid. Sounds like a lot for the size of the braid? Well it is, but when you look at the diameters of the line, its not. 40 pound has the dia. of 10 lb mono and 80 lb has the dia. of 20 lb. Vertical jigging can be used with either 10, 15 or 20 lb braid. The smaller diameter allows you to have better control of the jig.
Walleye reels get spooled with another variety of line sizes and types. The methods used to catch the fish determine what you will be putting on your reels. There is jigging, trolling cranks, trolling divers, bottom bouncers (drifting and trolling), casting, drifting and dragging. Some have their reels set up for downriggers, leadcore, and wire. Since I dont use the last three methods very often, I will leave that for comments or questions that you might have.
Most of my jigging happens in the Detroit River where the current can be really strong. I want my line to be as thin as can be to keep the jig vertical from the rod tip to where the line enters the water. I will spool up either 8 or 10 lb Power Pro, in the yellow color. If my jig has been hanging straight down, then all of a sudden starts to drift, even though I havent felt a bite, more often than not its a walleye on the other end. The line color helps me see that. I use 8 lb Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon leaders tied to the main line with a “double uni knot”, sometimes called the “back to back uni”. The river is notorious for snags, and the leader will break before the braid does, possibly saving you from a broken rod.
Trolling for walleyes can be done with either a mono or braided line. There are books available to anglers that show how deep your lure will go compared to the amount of line you have let out based on feet. These charts are based on 10 lb mono, so you can use the mono or a braid that has a 10 lb diameter. If you choose to go the monofilament route, try Trilene Big Game, in green from Berkley. You get 1,500 yards for 8 bucks and its good line.
I have six Daiwa linecounter reels that I spool up for trolling. Two SG 27 LCA’s for my planer board rods, and four SG 17 LCA’s for my divers (Jets, Mini-Disks and trolling weights) and long lining. Also, I troll 2 and 4 ounce bottom bouncers. I want to be able to feel the bite, or see the rod tip react so I can move quickly to bring the fish up. For these set ups I have 15 or 20 lb braid spooled up for the no stretch qualities.
Casting, drifting and dragging for walleye are my favorite methods for fishing on Erie. Trolling is fine for catching fish, and more often than not, will be your more productive method of catching your limit quickly. If you see me on Brest Bay, before the sun really starts to beat down, I will be standing up and using these three methods to catch my quota.
My casting reels get 10 lb mono because I want just a little bit of stretch. You can go with XL for spinning reels or XT if you like to use a baitcaster. For dragging and drifting, braid goes on the spool for the better sensitivity. Unlike casting where the fish attacks your bait, a lot of time walleye will move up behind the bait and just swallow it or take a nibble here and there. The no stretch lines will allow you to feel that better than mono.
Pike and muskie are the toothy critters, and I use braid on all my reels when targeting them. Fireline works well for drifting, jigging and dragging for walleye, but I have had problems casting it before, so I prefer Power Pro or Tuff-line XP. There are six basic setups for pike and muskie; trolling, live bait, topwater, spoon/bucktail, light and heavy crankbait. The only difference between these two species is the size of the braid that I use. For my pike reels, I will start at 20 lb and go up to 50 lb. The muskie reels go from 50 to 80 lb lines.
I like to get out and steelhead fish from time to time up in Flat Rock on the Huron River. For drifting spawn, flies and waxworms, I will have some 6 lb Maxima in a green color spooled with 4 or 6 lb leaders of Vanish. For casting small cranks like Hot n Tots and Wiggle Warts I will go with 8 lb Trilene XL.
Salmon fishing on the Great Lakes, for the most part involves using big Dipsy Divers or downriggers. I have 30 lb braid on my reels now for the divers, and am going to try the 40 lb this year. The releases on the downriggers can be touchy sometimes, so I prefer mono when using them. The size of the line can be either 25 or 30 lb.
That is the breakdown on what I spool up every year for the types of fishing I do most. I know I left out chasing cats, carp, sturgeon and some big river or lake fishing for salmon, trout and steelies. I just dont have enough time in the year to do it all with the fun fishing, tournaments and then ice season. Sometimes I think the beagles believe I forgot what a rabbit looks like.
Last of all, are the knots that I use the most while attaching the line to the spool (arbor knot), connecting line to line (double uni), line to lures (improved clinch and polamar). You do not have to run out and buy a book on knots, its all available here on the net. Type in “fishing knots” on your favorite search engine, then look for a website with some good diagrams and written instructions.