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Fishing - High-tech braids give anglers an edge

This new technology allows longer casts and deeper drops to put the bait in front of hard-to-reach fish

This new technology allows longer casts and deeper drops to put the bait in front of hard-to-reach fish

Our TV screens show us new technology, like a car that parks itself or a gizmo far out in space that sends back photos of a distant planet that look more like snapshots from your backyard barbecue.

Fishing, too, in its own way, is benefiting from the fast-developing technology of the time. One resulting trend is the use of new, super braid lines.

Without going into a detailed explanation of how the new lines are made, consider this fact: a line with 30-pound breaking test has the diameter of 8-pound monofilament. In addition, the line casts farther than mono, has no stretch and offers greater sensitivity to feel bites. Could you catch more fish with such a product?

There are many brands of super braids on the market. I’m most familiar with Power Pro, but there are dozens of others to consider, often at the suggestion of the person at the local tackle shop (who any angler should get to know as a valuable source of local and technical knowledge).

To start with, usually there’s a need for some type of backing to be put on existing reels before spooling up with braid. New knots are also necessary to learn and a special type of scissors is needed to cut the new line.

Standard cutting pliers will probably not work properly on braid.

Brave new world

Once spooled and ready to fish (the tackle shop can do it if you’re unsure of spooling), consider the new doors open. First, readers in northern New England will marvel at the ease with which they can jig for cod in the deep waters in the Gulf of Maine. The no-stretch feature of braid makes lifting and lowering a cod jig much easier than before when heavy glass rods with heavy mono were the norm.

The finer line also allows one to use a much lighter jig than previously. In years past, a 14- to 16-ounce jig was standard on the cod grounds due to depth of water. Today it’s very possible to get down as low as 4 to 8 ounces to effectively stay near the bottom in water 300 feet deep.

The lighter jig, matched with lighter tackle, is a godsend to aging arms and backs of baby boomers suffering from tendonitis and other aches after 30 years at the fishing game.

A party boat captain in Ogunquit, Maine, Capt. Timmy Tower, is using the features of braid to look ever deeper in his quest for fishing opportunities for his patrons.

Timmy regularly fishes in water over 500 feet deep, seeking large cod, pollock, cusk and white hake. The braid makes such explorations possible, those pieces of bottom too far down years back. What was questionable then is now common today.

While the future of cod fishing is iffy due to insufficient fishery management, haddock, on the other hand, are making a strong comeback off the Massachusetts coast. They seem to be everywhere after a run 20 to 25 miles out, often under a warm summer sun, eager to take pieces of clam or herring dropped down to them in water from 225 to 325 feet. The braid comes into play here, making the bites easier to detect and allows a use of lighter sinker, hence lighter tackle, all making the determined fight of a haddock all the more enjoyable.

Haddock caught in the afternoon then cooked that evening is a real treat. Fish in supermarkets just can’t compete with the freshness of a haddock-fishing trip.

Very versatile

I’ve watched or listened to private boat anglers tell me about using the no-stretch feature of braid to fish for tilefish off the continental shelf off southern New Jersey, catching fish in water deeper than 500 feet.

Braid was also brought into play to catch winter-over sea bass off some rocky bottom in a shallower water off the same state, with the anglers on that trip loading a cooler with sea bass to 7 pounds jigging deep with a diamond jig and a couple of surge tubes up ahead of it.

The added sensitivity of braid helps detect the bite of blackfish from the rocky humps of Fishers Island Sound down to the wrecks off the Delmarva coast. Braid also helps in the hunt for jumbo fluke in water most anglers do not associate with that pursuit.

A friend of mine uses 30-pound braid on light conventional tackle to catch a steady number of fluke from 4 to 10 pounds as deep as 140 feet. That’s right, fluke that deep — a feat much tougher with mono line with its stretch and heavier diameter requiring larger sinkers to tend bottom at those depths.

Casters that toss lure up into the shoreline will like the added distance braid gives them — a plus also in keeping the expensive outboard that much farther from prop-eating rocks or other structures that striped bass like to hang around.

When waves are breaking over the front of a New Jersey jetty, the braid lets one reach the white water bass love with a margin of safety for a small boat — which should always be pointed out toward the sea, with wind hopefully pushing the boat away from shore.

In the rips

Readers that boat and fish in the fast-swirling waters off the series of tide rips off Southeastern Connecticut called The Race use braid because it gets down in the swift current and also allows use of lighter tackle. Those same anglers are out again after dark, but instead of drifting with a bucktail and pork rind (with what’s called a three-way rig), are using a single hook and live eel on the same type of rig. This method works to catch large bass on the reefs just off the shore from Stonington to Stamford. The braid lets them all use lighter tackle, offering more fun when a 30-pound striper goes charging away into a dark night.

Trollers using the popular Rapala or other deep-diving swimming plugs for blues off Rockport, Mass., or other areas will find their lures go deeper thanks to the small diameter of the braided lines. Going deeper means more water is covered and more fish that may be holding deep during a bright day can be reached. The same could be said for striped bass often caught deep in some areas right along with the blues.

Just this past summer I received another example of the usefulness of braids. Three of us were out fishing a boiling Fishing Rip off Nantucket, yo-yoing metal jigs up and down in the current pushing us on a steep hill, the bottom rising from 140 to 70 feet in a short span. At the end of the tide we not only caught cod to 20 pounds and pollock to 15, but we also had fluke of 4 and 6 pounds in the cooler along with four striped bass from 34 to 38 inches, which were released.

Not a bad day with light tackle: easy on the arms and back, plenty of fish for the table, and all the reels aboard were full of technology offering fishermen and women new worlds to explore.

Tim Coleman has been fishing New England waters for more than 30 years. He was managing editor of The Fisherman magazine’s New England edition until 2001, and is now a freelance writer based in Rhode Island.