Human nature makes us suspicious of the unfamiliar. “This line doesn’t feel like my old line.” Common sentiment. It takes time to appreciate a new line. Unless it’s snapping off on every fish, stick with a line for three weeks. Some lines change character for the better after a week or two of hard fishing–and some change for the worse.
But, in all honesty, most of the lines on the market today–and there are lots to choose from–fill some niche in the walleye world. The following is like a wedding. Something old, something new. But, realize this: The box may have the same name on it that you used 25 years ago, but the line inside probably isn’t the same. Almost all of the older lines we once loved have been reformulated within the past 6 years or so. Some for better, some, some would suggest, for worse.
Something old: Consider Ande Premium, which has been around a long time. It’s perfect for big walleyes in snag-infested water. The first day, it’s stiff, coily, and seems to break relatively easily. After one hard day of fishing, it’s an altogether different line–almost impossible to break on snags. The 6-pound line will haul trees to the bank. It absorbs shock like nobody’s business, and the coils are long gone after day-one. The best thing about it is that it stays that way–strong and tough–throughout a calendar year of hard fishing and beyond. Maxima Ultragreen is much the same–tough, strong, and long lasting, but a nuisance the first day or two. Berkley Big Game and G. Pucci P-Line are examples of other abrasion-resistant lines we need around rocks and wood.
Walleye fishermen need limp lines, like Stren Ultra Cast, Berkley Trilene XL, or Rapala Finesse, to present livebait on mudflats, sand, gravel or, sometimes, in scattered weeds, to achieve the most natural movement of the bait. Unless you know the bottom is ragged and littered with snags or sharp rocks, it’s usually best to start with a limp line on the business end.
Something new: New techniques for bonding nylon polymers at the molecular level have been developed, and the lines we once knew are going to start changing ever faster. Berkley uses what they call a “reinforced polymer matrix” to make a revolutionary line called IronSilk. Though made with nylon, the basic building block of monofilament, IronSilk is different in the way it looks, the way it feels, and the way it fishes.
And therein lies the problem. The first few hours you fish with IronSilk, you may not like it. Casting distance suffers, tangles are common, and it’s stiff. But after a good stretch–several hours of fishing a deep-diving crankbait for instance–it starts to come around. By day-two, Iron Silk provides fewer problems with tangles and coils than, perhaps, any other line on the market. The knots never slip, and it is one of the toughest lines out there, perhaps the toughest in terms of abrasion resistance (though not in terms of shock absorption). IronSilk becomes so limp, and the coefficient of friction with rod guides so low, that casting distance is reported to be 10 to 25 percent better than conventional mono of the same diameter.
Some of the newest lines are best for pitching jigs–tough lines that act somewhat like limp lines–like Suffix DNA, a new reformulation of Suffix Tritanium. Another is Stren Magnaflex, an amazing new line that might be somewhat thicker than a limp line and certainly is more abrasion-resistant, yet it casts like a limp line. With a soft, underhand flip, DNA and Magnaflex carry a light jig plenty far. And they get it back to the boat.
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