When it comes to line selection these days you have endless options to choose from. Of course, modern innovation has given us the choice of braid on top of monofilament as well. While mono does have its time and place, braided lines offer far superior capabilities for the most part over the mono. So much so that at times you are using braided lines that are a fraction in diameter of the mono lines that are on the market with zero of that mono stretching.
When I was first introduced to braided line some years back, I was using around 30-pound test for the most part with 40 on some of my bigger surfcasting and bottom fishing rods. I was under the impression that this was normal even on some lighter spinning rods and that those who took a “sporty” approach were using 15 and 20 for light tackle applications.
Then I met Captain John Paduano who sails out of West Lake Marina in Montauk. When I first met him I wasn’t entirely familiar with his snap-jigging technique and what it entailed. More recently, before senior editor Fred Golofaro sadly passed away, he set me up on one of these snap-jigging trips with Capt. John. Sitting in Fred’s dining room at the time, I asked what exactly a snap-jigging setup looked like. In a minute, Fred returned with a rod that resembled something that I’ve used for freshwater bass before with a 2500-sized spinning reel and line that I thought at the time would handle fish under 10 pounds. Of course my first question was about the pound test of the braid and Fred replied “all we use for snap-jigging is 10.” My thoughts were right at first glance. The line that seemed like sewing thread to me was apparently used to catch bass of 40 and over 50 pounds by Capt. John.
Of course my excitement was at a high before the trip knowing I’d be targeting large stripers on this tackle that I saw suitable for freshwater bass at the time. I have to admit, the technique took some getting used to at first but with a technique like this, observation is key. Watching the Paduano paid off for me the most. In no time I had it down pretty good, along with a few bass up to 40 pounds by the end of the day. I was astonished at how much pressure I was able to put on a fish that typically tested out my 10-foot surf rod and Van Staal to a great degree. The line never broke from a running striper with a properly set drag and the most extraordinary part of the whole experience was the amount of time we were able to subdue all the fish in—under 10 minutes—resulting in healthy releases every time.
That single trip changed a lot of my outlook on light tackle fishing. I no longer consider 20 or even 15 very light. I’ve been using braids from 5 to 10 pounds for most of my fishing recently. The 5-pound braid has been especially useful with fluke fishing and presenting tiny 1/4-ounce jigs to finicky fluke keyed in on small spearing and grass shrimp in the South Shore bays.
When I do mention the braid that I’ve been using to some anglers recently for fluke, they almost look at me like I’m out of my mind. Hear me out. If I’m able to subdue stripers over 40 pounds with 10 pound braid with constant success, why is using 5-pound braid so unbelievable for fluke that average 1 to 3 pounds? And even if I come across the uncommon 10-pounder in the bay, it’s still 100 percent doable with proper drag settings. I’m just saying that this lighter approach to fluking has been a game changer for me as well as just tons of fun. If you haven’t tried this ultralight style of fishing yet, give it a try and send pictures of those flatties to my email at email@example.com.