Braid For Beginners

The Fishraider forums have had countless questions about braid. Which brand is better? What's the difference between braid and fused braid? etc etc.

SPECTRA VS DYNEEMA

First, virtually ALL of the lines we commonly call braid are made from the same basic material. Gel spun Polyethylene (GSP). Both Fused and Braided 'braids' are made from this same basic stuff. GSP threads are made under 2 trade names... Spectra (manufactured by Honeywell International) and Dyneema (manufactured by Dutch company, DSL). These are simply 2 brands of essentially the same stuff and again virtually ALL manufacturers of GSP fishing line source their fibres from either or both sources.

When fishos talk about Dyneema, Spectra, Braid, GSP, Gel Spun, Polyethylene and so on, they're therefore talking about the same basic material.

The differences between the final fishing lines we buy are in how the different lines are put together by the final manufacturer.

BRAID VS FUSED BRAID:

GSP fishing lines get their strength from the weaving or laminating of many GSP fibres... Braids achieve this by 'braiding' fibres together while fused braids use a proprietary form of 'heat welding' the fibres together. When you realise that the average single GSP fibre used by most manufacturers will be around 100 Denier (that means that 9000m of the thread will weight 100g!!), you'll get a sense of how many fibres go into the ultimate line.

For us as fishos, the main things to be aware of is that fused GSP lines are cheaper, more stiff and thicker than their usual braided counterpart. This doesn't mean it isn't as good. Particularly in very light breaking strains (say under 10lb) it can be much easier to handle than the wispy fine braided lines of the same breaking strain. And while they still share the same virtual 'no-stretch' sensitivity of braided lines, their lower cost makes them a great starting point for people new to braid. Be aware though that in heavy breaking strains (say 20lb upwards) it can feel a little like fishing with fencing wire.

'JAPANESE BRAID' VS THE REST - breaking strain

Many fishos sing the praises of 'Japanese' braid. By and large, braids from Japan ARE very high quality but there's a few things to understand.

First it's often said that Japanese braid is thinner than its counterparts. In Australia and USA as an example, the rating of braid is done around breaking strain and is complicated by the fact that we have become used to the idea that a braid should break well above its stated rating. How often have you heard someone say 'it's rated as 14lb but it really breaks at around 25lb'. So much for clarity in information.

In Japan, the rating of braid is done around its 'PE' rating... a measure of diameter. Breaking strain is secondary. This means that many Japanese braids break much closer to their actual stated breaking strain.

So when you compare 20lb US braid with 20lb Japanese braid, one of the reasons the good Japanese braid might be so much thinner is that it might be much closer to 20lb. So you might actually be comparing 30lb braid with 20lb braid!!

GOOD BRAID VS AVERAGE BRAID – manufacturing

However, there are aspects to the way certain Japanese and other high end braids are manufactured that DO dramatically influence their relative strength and other performance characteristics:

CARRIER COUNT

This refers to the how many woven strands of GSP fibres are braided together to make the final line. Line manufacturers often advertise when they are '8 carrier' braids. This is beacuse the number of carriers effects the cross section shape of the final line. A 4-carrier braid will have a squarish cross-section and tend to flatten out when spooled onto a reel. An 8-carrier braid has a more circular cross-section so tends to be more uniform. And with a greater number of laminations, an 8 carrier braid can potentially be stronger than a 4 carrier braid of the same diameter. But it will also cost more.

PIC COUNT

A pic is where a single carrier crosses another carrier within the braid. A higher pic count effectively means a tighter weave and generally results in a smoother line. Higher pic count lines also mean more braid is needed per meter to produce as well as generally requiring better and more expensive manufacturing technology... so again it can cost more.

DENIER

The finer the source fibres that go into a braid, the more 'laminations' will be in a carrier of the same diamater than in one made with thicker fibres. The average for many braids is to use around 100 Denier fibres... Many better quality braids will use fibres as low as 50 denier and some Japanese ultra-light, ultra-premium braids will use 30 Denier fibres (remember... that means that 9km of the stuff only weighs 30g). This generally results in a final braid that is stronger for a given diameter so that often, regardless of the rating differences, premium Japanese braids WILL actually be finer for a given breaking strain.

HOWEVER... You DON'T need super-expensive braid to gain the benefits of braided line fishing. The top end of the market is really for people who either fish the extremes (ultra light, ultra heavy, tournament and so on) or for fishos who for whatever reason, want those extra small incremental improvements you might get is line capacity, casting distance, sink rate or so-on, which come from paying '$80 for 150m of braid instead of $50 for 300m.'

BAD BRAID

It stands to reason then that a lot of super cheap braid is cheap because it uses thicker denier fibres, fewer carriers, a lower pic count and as such, can be thick, rough, unreliable and just plain a waste of money. My advice to anyone buying braid is, regardless of whether you want value or super quality, stick with reputable brands. And preferably get info from people who have actually fished with them before. You'll get no end of different opinions but you'll tend to see the same half dozen brands all the time.

Cheers, Slinky - Fishraider forum