Colburn: Its all about the stretch
Lawrence Delino had just strung another fat three pound trout before I headed his way with a bottle of cold water. After stopping long enough to get a backlash out of his son, Jay’s, reel I continued the short wade in the thigh deep water.
I was scanning the shoreline looking for mullet on the surface when I heard him cut loose with an R rated expletive. When I looked up he was just standing there staring disgustedly in the direction of the LNG tanks some 16 miles to the south.
“Are you having a senior moment or have you just forgotten that you have to cast to catch these trout,” I asked teasingly. “Hell…no,” he snapped back.“I’ve already strung six trout, but I just lost my third Super Spook. I think all three of them landed out there by those tanks!”
I didn’t have to ask him what knot he was using or if he had checked his leader after catching each fish because I had already been there, done that, and I was pretty sure that I knew what the problem was. “Are you using monofilament or fluorocarbon leader,” I asked as I handed him the bottle of water.
“I’m not sure,” he replied. “I use both from time to time depending on the guide I am fishing with. Do you think it makes a difference?” To my way of thinking, $20 worth of lost lures was the obvious answer to that question.
I have a little more confidence in one or two makes of braid as well as a number of brands of mono so as far as I am concerned it is dealer’s choice when choosing your braid or mono. I cannot, however, say the same for fluorocarbon and sure enough, that’s what Lawrence was using!
I don’t know of anyone that fishes as much as I do that tried to make fluorocarbon line work for them any harder I did. Regardless of the application, however, it was always knot strength that let me down. I was so intent on making it work that even after giving up on it as a main line; I continued using it for leader material.
It was the winter of the Corky shortage that sealed the fate of fluorocarbon for me. Everyone I fished with used 20 or 30-pound braid and 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. We all disagreed to some extent as to how best to join the two lines together as well as the most dependable knot for tying on the lure. When all was said and done most of us were using a surgeon knot or double uni-knot to attach the lines and a loop knot, Palamor knot or Tony’s clip for the lure.
I was only after all of us had air mailed the lion’s share or our existing Corky stash when the leader knots consistently broke as the result of a mid-cast backlash that Brad, or Rusty or Gene or someone finally put two and two together. After comparing notes and knots we decided to go back to monofilament for leader material.
Most of us stayed with 20 pound mono due to the smaller knot size, but 30-pound test seemed an even safer bet. As suspected, the mono had just enough stretch to cushion the sudden jolt that was snapping fluorocarbon and all was well again.
A client, Buddy Barbay, lost the largest trout he had ever tricked while fishing with me last week and once again it was his flurocarbon leader that snapped at the knot. An hour later he broke off another good fish using a cork with fluorocarbon leader and he is now a convert as well.
There is a lot of fluorocarbon line sold every day and a number of pro bass fishermen make a living with it, but it just doesn’t work well for the type of fishing I do. We used it last year for crappie fishing and in that application I thought it worked much better than mono, but I don’t make my living crappie fishing!
If you are currently using fluorocarbon, regardless of the application and like it, do not even consider changing to something else. It behaves much like mono on the spool and has far less stretch. If, however, you have experienced more breakage on the hook set than you would expect…. take a closer look.
At the same time, if you know of another knot that eliminates the problem I would welcome an e-mail as fluorocarbon is considerably less expensive than braid. I literally made braid finally work for me and I would be more than happy to do the same with fluorocarbon!
Pictured: Jimmy Gilliam with a nice trout that ate a roach colored Flats Minnow. RECORD PHOTO: Dickie Colburn