November 14, 2015
By Ned Kehde
Lew's is continuing to branch out from its traditional rod and reel business. And at the 2015 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show in Orlando, Florida, they introduced three fishing lines to the angling world. They are APT 8-Braid Speed Line, APT Fluorocarbon Speed Fishing Line, and APT Mono Speed Fishing Line.
According to Gary Dollahon of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Dollahon Public Relations of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Bob Brown of Springfield, Missouri, who is in charge of product development at Lew's Fishing Tackle and Do Outdoors Inc., the APT 8-Braid Speed Line is constructed from Dyneema fibers, and it is fabricated with eight braided strands of 100-percent Dyneema. The field testers noted that it exhibited excellent abrasion resistance, and they were not plagued by the wind-knot bugaboo that confounds many anglers who employ braided lines on spinning reels. The field testers also extolled its roundness, smoothness, and limberness, which they said enhanced their abilities to cast with it. It is also blessed with outstanding strength-to-diameter ratio; for example, the 10-pound-test APT-8 Braid has the diameter of two-pound-test monofilament, and the 20-pound-test APT-8 possesses the diameter of six-pound-test monofilament. It is available in a low-vis-green hue that is fade resistant. It is manufactured in six-, 10-, 20-, 30-, 50-, and 65-pound-test sizes. The suggested retail price for a 150-yard spool of six-, 10-, 20-, 30-, or 50-pound-test is $19.99, and the price for a 150-yard spool of 65-pound-test is $24.99.
For years on end, scores of Midwest finesse anglers have grumbled about the difficulty of using fluorocarbon line on spinning reels, saying it often becomes twisted and springs off the spool of their reel in an ungodly mess. But in an email, Brown and Dollahon noted that Lew's APT Fluorocarbon Speed Line casts and handles like a premium monofilament. They also lauded its strength and abrasion resistance. The color of the APT Fluorocarbon is called transparent clear, and that trenchancy factor is an asset when Midwest finesse anglers are plying waterways that are crystal-like. It is available in six-, eight-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 17-, 20- and 25-pound-test sizes. The six- and eight-pound-test APT Fluorocarbon are what most Midwest finesse anglers will use, and a 200-yard spool cost $18.99, and a 1,000-yard spool cost $79.99.
The mad dog of modernity has bitten many Midwest finesse anglers, and this bite has provoked them to spool their spinning reels with braided line rather than monofilament line, which used to be their standard bearer. But according to Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, who are veteran and extremely skilled Midwest finesse anglers, monofilament line is much better at creating the no-feel retrieve than braided line, and no feel is one of the critical elements in the way Midwest finesse anglers retrieve a small soft-plastic bait that is rigged onto a tiny mushroom-style jig. What's more, frugality has been one of the linchpins of Midwest finesse fishing since its founding by Chuck Woods of Kansas City in the 1950s, and Lew's monofilament is much less expensive than its braided lines and fluorocarbon lines.
Dollohan told us that Lew's APT Mono Speed Fishing Line possesses excellent tensile and knot strength. In addition, it is exceedingly supple, and the stretch factor is minimal. It is augmented by a featured that is described as crosslinked super polymer technology. It is a clear line, and 500-yard spool of either six- or eight-pound-test sells for $9.99.
When Midwest finesse anglers use braided line, most of them affix a leader. The bulk of these anglers use a piece of fluorocarbon line, such as Lew's APT Fluorocarbon, for the leader. But a few anglers have discovered that a monofilament leader accentuates the no-feel retrieve, and because the no-feel element is such a critical factor, these anglers say unless the water is crystalline that monofilament should be the leader material that most Midwest finesse anglers employ.
(1) We asked Bob Brown six questions about Lew's braided, fluorocarbon, and monofilament lines. Here is an edited and condensed version of his answers and insights to the questions.
(Q) Can you tell us what you and your field testers have discovered about the three lines?
(A) The APT 8-Braid is very strong, and it is quite a bit more supple than most of the braided lines that we have used. When I compared it to other brands, it is much easier to cast on both casting and spinning reels. The difference is very noticeable on spinning reels, and that stems from the fact that Lew's is a much softer braid, and that is because of its eight braided strands of Dyneema.
Our Mono Speed Fishing Line has less stretch and less memory than most monofilament lines. Thus we had many reports during the testing period about how it did not coil like the monofilament lines that testers had used in the past.
Our APT Fluorocabon Speed Line is remarkable. When I personally tested it in Mexico, casting and flipping into weesatche trees and other heavy cover, I was amazed. I caught and fought fish in those trees all day, landing and boating over 40 bass per day and only re-tied my lure in the evening or before the next day's outing. I was using 20-pound-test, and it did not fray from this abuse. Twenty-pound fluorocarbon is considered light for this type of fishing, but I was amazed at its abrasive resistance.
(Q) When you employed Midwest finesse tactics, did you work with all three lines?
(A) I have only used the APT Fluorocarbon Speed Line and the APT 8- Braid for Midwest finesse tactics.
(Q) If so, which one worked best for you, and why do you think it was the best?
(A) Personally, I prefer to use APT Fluorocarbon Speed Line because I have determined that it allows me to get more bites throughout the day. But for the newcomers to Midwest finesse fishing, I would recommend that they fill the spools on their spinning reels with APT 8-Braid, and they attach a leader to the braid made from APT Fluorocarbon Speed Line. The problem that confounds Midwest finesse anglers -- especially newcomers -- with fluorocarbon line is that it can easily become twisted, and those twists can often create a quagmire of loops and knots that hop and spin off of the reel's spool during a cast. The braid is twist tolerant. What's more, braided line allows anglers to detect strikes better than fluorocarbon and monofilament.
(Q) What pound test did you use for Midwest finesse applications? And if you used the braided line, did you use a leader? If so, how long was the leader and what pound test was it?
(A) When I spool my spinning reel with APT Fluorocarbon Speed Line, I use six pound test. I use 10-pound-test APT 8-Braid and a six-pound-test APT Fluorocarbon Speed Line leader that is about four-feet long.
(Q) Does the length of the leader make any difference? If so, why did it?
(A) I do not believe the leader length makes any difference. I like about a four-foot one. The reason for that is I do not want the knot to become entangled with the tip top guide while I am fighting a fish. I have no problem reeling and casting the leader knot through the tip top guide.
(Q) What kind of knot do you use to attach the leader to the braid?
(A)There are many knots that anglers can employ. I like to use an Albright. I have been tying it for years, and I have had very few knot failures.
(Q) How full do you fill the spools with fluorocarbon line?
(A) There really is no standard formula. It is personal preference.
I have fished with experienced fishing guides who only fill their spinning reels 1/2 to 3/4 full. When I asked why, they told me they get fewer wind knots or twisting of line when they do this. These guides are putting these reels in the hands of novice anglers and by reducing the amount of line on the spool, it prevents less-experienced anglers from being plagued with fouled line.
I like my spools to be filled to almost maximum capacity. It allows me to maximize my casting distance.
(Andrew Upshaw of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, is a professional angler who is sponsored by Lew's, and he is also a Midwest finesse devotee. Most of the time when he is employing Midwest finesse tactics, he prefers to use six-pound-test Lew's APT Fluorocarbon Speed Line. He doesn't fill the spool to its maximum capacity. Instead, he spools it to within a quarter of an inch of the top of the spool. What's more, Upshaw frequently applies a line conditioner to the line, and he uses Lucas Slick Mist Speed Wax as a conditioner.)
(2) Along with his discourse about the three lines, Brown enclosed a brief log about a short outing that he and his son had at Kentucky Lake on Oct. 3, when they used six-pound-test Lew's APT Fluorocarbon Speed Line.
Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:
The wind was howling, and it was escorted by a significant cold front. My son is a power angler, and he wanted to wield his power baits on main-lake points. But the wind and waves were too much for our small bass boat to handle. And he distraughtly asked: "What are we going to do now? The best fishing is main-lake points, and we can't get there." I asked him if he had ever heard of the Midwest finesse tactic that some folks called the Ned rig, and he said that he had not heard of it. At that point, I lifted two Lew's Tournament Performance TP1 Speed Stick Series (TP167MLFS Ned Rig) rods rigged with Team Lew's Pro Speed Spin Series (TLP2000) reels spooled with six-pound-test Lew's APT Fluorocarbon Speed Fishing Line. One rod sported a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a black 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. On the second rod, we had a four-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a black 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.
We began fishing a relatively wind-sheltered shoreline in a feeder-creek arm, where the surface of the water was stained from the wind, but it was clear below that surface stain. We began fishing at the main-lake mouth of this feeder creek, and we worked our way towards the back of it.
Initially, Tyler was not impressed with the Midwest finesse option. So, he wielded a spinnerbait, while I employed a Midwest finesse rig. By the time we had fished the first 20 yards of the shoreline I had caught five largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. The length limit is 15 inches and three of my first five were 15 inches or better. Tyler finally said: "Let me try this." He picked up the spinning rod and made his first cast to a piece of structure, where he caught and landed a 3 1/2-pound smallmouth bass. As he released that smallmouth bass, he said: "I had thrown my spinnerbait past that piece of structure twice and didn't get bit." To make a long story short, we caught and released more than 20 black bass in the next hour, and most of them were caught in six feet of water. As the weather continued to deteriorate, it began raining, and we headed to the house. While sitting on the porch watching it rain, Tyler said that he liked the Midwest finesse rigs for two reasons. First, who doesn't like catching largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on light tackle? Second, he can take friends who are just getting into fishing, and they can catch an impressive array of fish.