Offshore success begins with solid line to spool and backing to top shot connections.
The best knot you can tie is the one you tie the best. Sure this sounds silly and simple, but it is the foundation that all fishermen should adhere too. Oftentimes it is better to tie a weak knot perfectly than a strong one poorly, so keep your go-to knots down to a simple few and practice them repeatedly. Be able to tie them with your eyes closed and know they’re done right.
It’s good practice and saves time to do as much rigging as possible at home, before a trip. Let’s start with adding line to a reel. Some reel spools have a post or hole that allows you to directly tie your line to the reel. If the reel does not have either you need to tie a knot that ensures that the line is connected to the spool. Regardless of whether mono or braid is used you need to prevent the line from spinning independent of the spool. There are many methods of doing this. Some involve tape, which also adds a corrosion barrier to metal spools as well as little cushion. If braid is being used one method is to start with 100 feet of mono as it grabs the spool easier and then tie your braid onto the mono. However, there is an easy and consistent way to tie braid directly to any spool (both conventional and spinning) without using tape or a mono base.
Begin by taking two wraps around the reel’s empty spool arbor. Pull the tag end parallel to the bulk spool running line and tie your best slip knot; two great choices are the Uni knot or the San Diego jam knot. Leave a few inches of tag end and trim. Slide the initial wraps and knot to the left side of the spool arbor and snug it all up as tight as possible. Start to reel the line in ensuring the first few wraps lay neatly and tightly over the tag end. Fill the reel under pressure, leaving enough space to connect a top shot of monofilament. Be sure to slowly move the line side to side as it comes onto the spool, and make sure to avoid high spots and bunching of the line.
If you spooled your reel with hollow core you have two simple, streamline options for attaching the top shot. The first is to splice a loop in the end of the braid and connect your top shot with the loop to loop method. There are many manufactures of premade top shots with a looped end. This method allows for the easy change-out of top shots at any time.
The second choice is to splice your top shot directly into your braid. This is not difficult but can be time consuming to do correctly and is constrained to a home workbench environment. For the minimal savings and time required to splice direct, many anglers opt for store-bought premade top shots.
When splicing an end loop take the time to add two extra and make two extra line loops. These should lie flat and even only showing themselves when the line is bunched up. These extra hidden loops have many functions. Anything that you would use a flossed loop for can be attached here. For chunking and deep dropping for swordfish, this could include such add-ons as lights, weights, balloons, floats etc. When trolling planers outfitted with clips they can be attached here, taking the place of a planer bridal.