The winds of winter have started in earnest and local lake temperatures are diving toward the freezing point. This annual phenomenon usually halts the appetites of smaller fish, but often increases the feeding urge in larger aquatic predators. Therefore, one should prepare for catching these bigger fish that become more aggressive in these cooler conditions. The first step toward winter angling success, however, should be replacement of old fishing lines, which are generally the weakest link in one’s terminal tackle. Even the best-quality, premium fishing lines eventually wear out, so don’t risk losing a trophy fish by using old, worn-out, or questionable fishing line. Professional anglers check their lines before every tournament and change them whenever they begin to show signs of wear. Casual anglers would be safest to spool up with new line at least twice every fishing season. More frequent anglers should consider changing lines after every few fishing trips.
Some of the principal enemies of monofilament fishing line are UV degradation and damage from heat. Ultraviolet radiation can deteriorate the molecular structure of nylon monofilament fishing line, especially if it’s exposed to sunlight over a long period of time. Overexposure to heat can also damage fishing line. As a general rule, never store rod or reels outdoors, in direct sunlight, or in the hot trunk of a car between fishing trips.
Rocks, sticks, hooks, fish scales, and spines can all cause microscopic nicks in the surface of the line, which can reduce its strength by fifty percent or more. Whenever there’s a pause in the fishing action, after landing a fish, dragging the line over a rocks or stumps, or just a premonition that something might be wrong, most fishing pros check their line by running the first ten feet through their thumb and forefinger while pressing against the line with their thumbnail. If any roughness or irregularities are felt, the worn section is immediately cut off.
When line starts to break mysteriously, the reel and line guides should be checked for sharp spots or other problems that might be damaging the line. Sometimes the ceramic rings in line guides will crack or chip, leaving razor-sharp edges. Check for abrasive scratches and chips by running a piece of nylon stocking or a ball of cotton through the ring or across the surface. Any rough spots will instantly snag the fibers when they pass through.
Always store fishing reels and extra line in a cool, dark place like a cabinet or closet. Keep monofilament line away from continuous exposure to sunlight or excessive heat.
When changing fishing line, take extra precautions about disposing of the old line in a safe, responsible manner. Most fishing lines degrade so slowly that they create lethal traps for fish and wildlife if carelessly discarded in the wild. Also, never let any companions throw old fishing line overboard. Consider setting an example for children and friends by taking a few moments to gather up snarls of discarded fishing line that have been left by others.
With all the new second generation “super lines available, fishermen seem to be confused as to which brand to use when replacing old line. Stren has always produced a monofilament fishing line that combines flexible, easy-handling characteristics with improved abrasion resistance and overall toughness.
Regardless of which line is chosen, however, the important aspect to remember is that this tiny length is the weakest point between the angler and the fish. So, instead of having to relate the familiar story of “The One That Got Away”, now is the time to check those weak links before going out in the cold to do battle with a trophy fish!