Fluorocarbon line and Midwest finesse fishing
September 04, 2015
When we were writing a gear guide about Sunline's new Assassin FC Fluorocarbon Line, we wrote that very few Midwest finesse anglers employ fluorocarbon on their spinning outfits.
We noted that Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, is a fluorocarbon devotee. He is a talented Midwest finesse angler, longtime Finesse News Network member, regular contributor on Ozark Anglers.com, and proprietor of Prescription Plastics, which manufactures a mushroom-style jig that Reeves calls Ozark Finesse Heads. Nowadays, Reeves spends most of his time plying the crystal clear water at Table Rock Lake, Missouri, where he has found that fluorocarbon line is an essential ingredient for his Midwest finesse applications.
We asked Reeves to explain why, how, and where he uses fluorocarbon, and in an Aug. 25 email, he wrote a detailed treatise about it.
Here is an edited version of his email:
I prefer to use fluorocarbon line for finesse fishing - - particularly six-pound-test Seaguar Invizx -- because it does what I need it to do. For me, it is more sensitive than a superline-leader combination, such as braided line with a fluorocarbon leader. It handles better in wind. It holds up well in terms of abrasion and break offs. It is much better than monofilament line about not breaking when I work to pop a snagged jig free. It also provides a one-knot rigging scheme rather than having to spend the time to affix a leader to the braided line and then affix the lure to the leader, which equals faster rigging and one less potential point of failure.
Line twist and abrasion resistance have been the bugaboos for a lot of folks when it comes to using fluorocarbon on spinning reels. I have used six- and eight-pound-test fluorocarbon line since about 2000, and I have come to the conclusion that 2000- and 2500-size spinning reels are the blame for a lot of the line-twisting woes that plague anglers. In about 2006, I began using 3000-size spinning reels, which possess wider line spools. And I found that the wider line spools and the liberal use of line conditioners, such as Blakemore's Reel Magic or Kevin Van Dam's Line and Lure Conditioner, make twists a virtual non-issue.
I am comfortable using six- and eight-pound-test fluorocarbon line around laydowns, brush piles, and flooded timber and brush, which I did before I began employing Midwest finesse tactics. Back in my early finesse days, I was wielding split-shot rigs, shaky-head jigs, and soft-plastic grubs affixed to a jig, and across those years, I extracted an array of black bass out of snagged-filled lairs. I regularly check my line for abrasions, and throughout a normal day, I will trim off more than seven feet of line, and if I were using a braided-line-and-leader combination, I would have to spend time tying a new leader to the braided line at least once and perhaps twice.
Unless an angler is making short casts, braided line is difficult to use on wind-blown outings. But when I am fishing mixed-rock points that are relatively flat or massive expanses of gravel flats that grace the highland reservoirs of the Ozarks, short casts are not useful. Wind will catch the braided line and float it up in the air like gossamer threads, killing your ability to control (not feel) the bait. When braided line is tied directly to a jig, it is very sensitive, but that sensitivity drops off considerably when a leader is added between the braid and the bait. However, when braided line is tied directly to a jig-and-soft-plastic-bait combo, there is a visibility issue that arises, which can inhibit an angler's ability to allure wary black bass. I must note that sensitivity is not an issue with me, because I try not to feel what my bait (2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Prescription Plastics' Ozark Finesse Heads jig) is doing.
I change line frequently. After seven outings, I will respool five of my primary finesse spinning outfits. Occasionally one rod will see more use, and it will see more re-spooling than the others. Some of that is due to the fact that I am frequently re-tying my baits. When I retie, I normally clip off at least four feet of the line as a precautionary measure, and that chews through a lot of line. I spool my reels with 75 to 100 yards of fluorocarbon, and the spools on my spinning reels are backed with monofilament line. I buy Invizx in 1,000- or 3,000-yard spools, depending on price, but I prefer the 1,000-yard spools as they are level wound. That amount of re-spooling may be excessive, but it is simple insurance against lost fish.
Many folks have also fallen in the trap of trying to save money when purchasing fluorocarbon. But quality does indeed carry a higher price tag. Cheap or low-end fluorocarbon tends to be stiffer, and it is more prone to twist and memory issues. As I noted earlier, a good line conditioner is also a must. Use it, and use it often, especially if there are several reels on the deck of the boat and sitting in the sun.
This summer I did fish some eight-pound-test Seaguar Kanzen, which is a braided line, and I affixed it to a six-pound-test Seaguar Invizx fluorocarbon leader. That started because I wanted to use an ultralight rod and reel combo for fun, and the small spool would make line twist an issue if I used fluorocarbon line. Kanzen handles and ties well in that size. It was okay on the water, but not as good as straight Invizx. The sensitivity was not better; the hook sets were not better; my landing percentage was not better. It is, however, the first braided line I have found that I consider worthy of further use, and I plan to fish with it some next spring, if not later this fall. It will probably be a situation specific line for me; such as when I use an ultralight reel or I am fishing around aquatic vegetation. I have used light-pound-test braided lines made by Power Pro, as well as Spiderwire's Stealth and Ultracast, and Sufix's 832 Advanced Superline, and none of them performed the way straight fluorocarbon does, or as well as the Kanzen.
In closing, there are more folks using fluorocarbon line as a main line on spinning reels than one might think, especially in clear-water lakes. These anglers tell me that visibility, wind issues, and the extra knots are the big negative about using braided lines or super lines.
(1) Here is the link to the gear guide about Sunline's Assassin FC Fluorocarbon Line: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/sunlines-assassin-fc-fluorocarbon-line/.
(2) On Aug. 30, we received an email from Travis Myers, who is a Finesse News Network contributor from Paw Paw, West Virginia.
Myers uses fluorocarbon line on some of his spinning outfits, and he uses braided line without a fluorocarbon leader on some of his spinning rods.
He wrote: "Sunline makes a fantastic product. The only other one I would even draw comparisons to it is Gamma.
"In nearly every report that I filed on FNN this summer, I mentioned that I am using four-pound-test fluorocarbon line. I use Gamma's Touch. It gives my heavily salt-impregnated baits, such as a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's ZinkerZ on a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a slower drop speed than braided line does.When I fish with a Z-Man bait that is salt-free, which makes it lightweight, I use six-pound-test Gamma Torque braided line.
"Many anglers point out that braided line floats and fluorocarbon line sinks, and they are correct. However, when I am dealing with the lightweight lines that I use, these properties become undetectable."
(3) We asked Reeves in an email if his children, who are 11 and 14 years old, use fluorocarbon. He answered by email and wrote: "Yes. We tried some braid-and-leader combos, and straight monofilament line, but went back to fluorocarbon for them. It came down to getting bites in clear-water situations. They use the same six-pound-test Invizx that I use."