Unless you cast your line over a tree limb, dangle a lure just above the surface, entice a fish to strike it, and then immediately haul it through the air and into your boat -- a feat that has probably never happened – then some part of your line has to get wet when you fish with it.
That’s why I was a little surprised recently to observe a fishing line manufacturer showcase the abrasion-resistant property of its nylon monofilament product by mechanically scraping it and three competitive lines repeatedly over sandpaper.
Predictably, its product performed much better than the others, at least on sandpaper.
Since none of the four lines was tested wet, and because nobody fishes with dry line, the results were irrelevant. This demonstration is/was a marketing ploy, which many anglers may not realize because they know little about the basic characteristics of this important piece of fishing equipment.
Nylon Changes When Wet
If you want to consider line strength, knot strength, elasticity, memory, abrasion resistance, or any other properties of fishing line – most of which can be manipulated in the manufacturing process -- you have to think wet. This especially matters in knot strength and abrasion resistance with nylon monofilament line. A recent survey showed that nylon monofilament remains the most popular genre of fishing line, though it has been losing ground to superlines (microfilaments) for more than a decade.
When superlines get wet, their properties are generally unaltered. When nylon lines get wet, their characteristics change; nylon absorbs water and is weaker in a wet state than a dry one.
That makes what happens to them in the water all the more important. How the line performs in a wet state is all that matters.
Lots of Abrasive Stuff
Abrasion resistance is one of the most difficult qualities of line to measure, precisely because it is so difficult to simulate and test the abrasive contact that line is subjected to during fishing conditions. That includes contact with rocks; submerged structures of all kinds; posts and pilings; barnacle growth on various underwater objects; the teeth, gill covers, and scales of fish; and a host of other things.
Some lines are more abrasion resistant than others. This is usually due to the chemical formulation of the line itself and how it is manufactured, or simply because it has a greater diameter than comparable products. Determining the differences among brands is subjective; you can only make this judgment through use.
Some lines, particularly premium nylon monofilaments, have excellent abrasion resistance. Some are just barely adequate. Lack of abrasion resistance was braided Dacron's biggest drawback back when it was a commonly used line decades ago. Microfilaments, whether made from Dyneema, Spectra, or other braided or fused products, though better than Dacron, are not especially good in this area and are suspect when it comes to abrasion resistance. You should use a nylon or fluorocarbon leader with microfilament line, partly for this reason.
Check Your Line Often
Most anglers have to contend with abrasion, and some encounter abrasive elements much more than others. Sometimes you have to cut off nicked line periodically while fishing because the conditions are so tough. The thinner the diameter of line, the more damaging abrasion can be. Selecting one with satisfactory abrasion resistance is important, but not so easy. Keep in mind that no castable line completely withstands abrasion.
Trying to figure out what line to fish with is more confusing than ever, and the main reason why people don’t pay closer attention to this is that they seldom push their tackle to the limit. They primarily catch small fish using overpowering tackle. Failure to pay attention to the abrasion issue, however, will eventually come back to bite you.