2018 ICAST New Lines
July 11, 2018
Fishing line is the critical connection between you and the fish, not to mention a key ally in the quest to present lures and baits in a strike-triggering manner at the depth where fish are feeding. Plus, of all the ways to improve your odds of catching more fish, few are as easy, affordable, and effective as spooling up with new line that fits the species you're after and conditions at hand.
Thankfully, line makers headed for the 2018 Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) are introducing a fistful of promising new products for anglers to wind on their favorite spools in the months ahead. Following is a rundown of a few of our top picks in monos, superlines, and fluoros.
Monofilament line has long been a favorite of anglers for its ease of use, abrasion resistance, forgiveness, low cost, and other attributes. Spun from a single strand of material—typically nylon, sometimes mixed in co- and multi-polymer configurations—mono remains a great line choice in a number of fishing situations.
Sufix's new Advance Monofilament offers a rare combination of three strong suits. It's supple, sensitive, and strong. In-Fisherman co-founder Al Lindner is already signing the new line's praises. "It's easy to handle and fishes smooth, like mono always has, but it shares some of the qualities of fluorocarbon, too, like enhanced sensitivity and abrasion resistance," Lindner reports.
Sufix relied on serious science to give new Advance Monofilament such characteristics—which are often tendered as trade-offs on lesser monos. Engineers devised a proprietary magnetic-extrusion process to combine HMPE molecules (from which superlines are made) with a Hyper Copolymer foundation to create a hard-fishing mono that isn't stiff and unmanageable.
Lindner promises that the new line offers additional benefits, including enhanced castability, reduced line memory, and great knot strength. Plus, it has 50 percent less stretch and UV absorption than standard mono. Look for it in clear and low-vis green colorations in nine breakstrengths from 4 to 25 pounds. suffix.com.
Once reserved for extreme duty as saltwater leader material, fluorocarbon fishing line has become a popular option for anglers in many situations. Fluoro's favor is due in part to advancements in performance characteristics, which—depending on your needs and personal preferences—can make it the best fishing line for a number of applications.
One of fluorocarbon's biggest benefits is it's almost invisible underwater, which is a huge factor in clear water and when targeting pressured or otherwise skittish fish. Fluoro is also sensitive, waterproof, and more abrasion resistant than mono of the same diameter. On the downside, it's stiffer and has more memory, so it can be harder to manage than other types of lines.
Vicious Fishing has been selling quality fluorocarbon lines for nearly a decade and is expanding its family of products with new Flip-n-Pitch Fluoro, a technique-specific product tailored to flipping and pitching. The formula is based on the same recipe of the other premium Vicious fluoros, including 100% Fluorocarbon, Pro Elite Fluorocarbon, and Fluorocarbon Leader.
Designed to deliver the strength, abrasion resistance and sensitivity for targeting fish in heavy cover, Flip-n-Pitch comes in 100-yard spools of 17-, 20-, and 25-pound-test, retailing for $17.99 to $22.99. getvicious.com.
In other fluorocarbon news, Seaguar says its new Gold Label 100% fluorocarbon leader material is the thinnest, strongest leader material it's ever made, and offers exceptional knot and tensile strength, plus excellent abrasion resistance. In fact, for any particular break-test rating, Gold Label is up to 23 percent thinner than any other 100 percent fluorocarbon leader made by Seaguar.
Look for Gold Label in six pound-test ratings, from 15 to 40, in 25-yard spools retails from $18.99 to $34.99. seaguar.com.
Photo: GoldLabelSpool_rgb copy
Incredibly thin and extremely strong for their size, superlines are high-performance options offering a variety of benefits. For starters, thanks to near-zero stretch, superlines are ultra-sensitive—capable of telegraphing information from your lure or bait better than any other type of line. As a result, you can detect light bites, feel your lure tick bottom, and tell when weeds have fouled your lure.
Superline's amazing tensile strength lets you downsize diameter without sacrificing power. This reduces drag in the water, so lures run deeper, with less letback. Added gains in fighting abilities, flotation, and—in some cases—abrasion resistance, make superline a great pick for a variety of demanding applications.
Berkley has been a player on the superline scene for decades. Along the way, it's raised the bar with high-performance products including FireLine, NanoFil, and Trilene Braid Professional Strength.
For 2018, the company changes the line game once again with the addition of a pair of stellar new superlines—Berkley x5 and x9 Braid. Named for the number of strands they contain, the new lines take strength and reliability of tradition 4- and 8-strand superbraids to the next level.
Designed for maximum strength and abrasion resistance, Berkley x5 lets you confidently fish gnarly cover and tangled vegetation. For its part, Berkley x9 is engineered to maximize strength and casting distance—fueling long, quiet casts in open water.
Both x5 and x9 options are available in low-vis green and crystal colors, made from bulletproof 100% PE fibers, and come in a variety of spool sizes and breakstrengths, retailing from $13.99 and up. berkley-fishing.com.
Daiwa expands its J-Braid family with new high-performance J-Braid Grand. The new Japanese-made superline is strong, quiet, and resistant to abrasion, yet bodied enough to lie smoothly on the spool.
J-Braid Grand is spun with Izanas, a state-of-the-art new material utilizing eight carriers, so it's not only supple, but also four times as abrasion resistant as typically tougher four-carrier lines.
Billed as the ultimate braid in the formidable J-Braid clan, Grand is available in three colors and 6- to 150-pound breakstrengths. Daiwa.com/us.
Fluorocarbon kingpin Seaguar has long appreciated the benefits of a stealthy approach beneath the surface. The company's new braided line offering, a Stealth Gray version of its popular Smackdown premium braid, reflects that spirit.
Comprised of eight ultra-thin strands woven tightly into a round profile for long, quiet casts, Smackdown boasts one of the thinnest diameters around. In fact, 20-pound-test has the diameter of 6-pound mono. Smackdown also offers solid knot and tensile strength, plus stellar abrasion resistance.
The new Stealth Gray coloration promises to be a boon to anglers targeting skittish fish in clear water conditions. Already, A-list bass pro Brandon Palaniuk (who got a chance put the new line through its paces before its release to the masses) says the line is a go-to when fishing big bass in shallow water.
"Shallow fish can be spooky, and often react negatively if they spot your line," he says. "I've come to rely on Smackdown for the long, precision casts needed to target shallow bass. The new Stealth Gray option lets me tackle skinny water with even more confidence, knowing it won't spook big bass, even on pressured waters."
Stealth Gray is being introduced in line tests from 10 to 65 pounds, all in 150-yard spools.
Seaguar is also debuting another new version of Smackdown of interest to line-watchers—Flash Green. Offering all the performance features of other Smackdown colors, the high-vis line is easy to see under a wide range of ambient light conditions.
Two-time Bassmaster Classic champ Jordan Lee, an avowed finesse fanatic, reports Flash Green makes it easier for him to see light bites when drop-shotting and other finesse presentations. "Which in turn helps me catch more fish, cash more checks, and hoist more trophies over my head," he laughs.
New Flash Green Smackdown comes in tests of 10 to 30 pounds, also on 150-yard spools. seaguar.com.