I have been on a search for a new line this season. Every other year I tend to change my line and most years its been a no brainer as to what type of line I select. Now that I've started to take things up a notch in the skills department, I thought I would take a bit more time searching out the perfect line.
Line twists and tangles are usually dealt with by yanking out a bird nest or two and using whats left. Most tangles occur when a 9 or 10 year old dude tells you the line they are using is messed up. Most of the time its to late to save. These problems can still occur with a new line(more on that later) mixed with a beer or two, however most of these problems can be eliminated with a re spool of shiny new threads.
As for my selections, I narrowed my search down to two popular choices on most North American fishing board surveys. P.line Fluorice (a fluorocarbon coated line) and my first choice, Sufix Ice Braid. Although I have only been able to track down some six pound Sufix I hope to use the P.line on one of my perch rods to compare and determine this years true winner.
I have been reluctant to go all Fluorocarbon because of its durability after a Pike joins the party. Although its been a few years since I locked into a big toothy critter. Usually someone (well usually Dan my Fishing Partner) hits one in the hut and it can really mess up line. Remember its always good to cut a bit a of line off once the fight is finished. You don't need to find out the hard way on the next party crasher lunker.
I have been using a 4 and 6lb braid for the past 2 years. I am amazed that it tends to last as long as it does and still run well no matter what it goes through. Berkley micro ice has been the top selection however, its the Neon Red Sufix braid colour that caught my eye.
Four years ago Dan and I discovered Shakespere's cajun line on cajun rods. We had a blast reeling in fish when we first used them for a heavy bite day on our first Lake Nipissing adventure. Those rods were a bit too light and I've since retired mine to light Crappie fishing days(never tried it, but its in the plans).
What was really fun with Cajun iceline was being able to line watch this highly visible colour. I really missed the red when i started to really work on this technique at the end of last season. Because in the huts its quite easy to see line of any colour i had no idea my Berkley Vanish was so tough to watch on a rare sunny day in March.
Ive strung my Trout Ice Rod Ugly Stick 2'6" with 6 lb Neon Red Sufix and it looks awesome (bright orange really). I can't believe how well it stands out and it should make line watching a breeze. My only concern is will it hinder the fishing? Is this stuff so easy to see that the fish can tell its there? According to many it won't make a difference. I plan to try it 2 ways; 1) straight to hook and 2)with a fluorocarbon leader.
Like braided line, fluorocarbon has less stretch than monofilaments. Actually, the stretch of fluorocarbon line is more like that of braided lines than monofilaments, but without the "give away" dark thread look.
Speaking of braided lines, another advantage of fluorocarbon over braided line is that fluorocarbon line sinks quite a bit faster than braided lines, To some, the fact that fluorocarbon sinks rapidly makes it a better choice for baits that dive or sink. Sounds perfect for Ice fishing doesn't it?
What concerns me is that I get the feeling that I can use my braid longer(2year max) than the Fluoro. So I'll use Fluoro if needed, for leaders. However I have learned in the last few weeks pitching Cleos that you also need to know your knots and make sure they are perfect with fluorocarbon.
As mentioned I've also decided to try one spool of Pline Fluorice as well I'll discuss this line and my plans once I have tracked down the product. In Southwestern Ontario as with snow shovels, Ice Fishing gear isn't stocked on the shelves until we are already fishing.
If you are looking at changing line this season I have attached some great tips from Crappie Tom at Thornebros in MN. He had a great post regarding new line, tests and spooling for the season.
"First and foremost: When you close the bail on your spinning reel, close it by hand and not by turning the reel's handle. Closing the bail by cranking the handle puts 1/2 of a twist in the line every time you do it. Develop a habit of doing this and you'll love yourself for it. This applies to open water as well.
Secondly: Only remove enough of the line already spooled to allow sufficient ice line to go on for your fishing. You know what the deepest water you'll fish is.....allow about ten percent more line than the max water depth. You'll save a bunch on line this way.
Third: Lay the new line spool flat on the floor and put a dozen turns on your reel, being sure to apply tension by running the line thru your thumb and finger. Stop and lower the rod tip almost to the spool and watch what the line does between the rod tip and the spool. If it coils up, flip the spool over and then continue putting the line on. If you don't see any obvious coiling, just continue filling as the spool lays.
Fourth: Take time to check your line roller bearing at the take-up corner of the bail. Be darned positive that that bearing is turning freely. If it is not free, remove the screw that holds it carefully and give the bearing a good cleaning. It the bearing is still binding or won't turn, either get a replacement bearing or a different reel.
Fifth: Get in the habit of walking your line off the reel's spool and re-winding it with nothing tied to it every other trip or so. Just the action of jigging can twist line something fierce.
Store your rods out of direct sunlight as much as possible when you aren't using them as sun can force the monos to take a set and create line hooping. Sunlight can also degreade the line and create weak spots.
Another issue may not be the line at all, but rather, the lures you use and how aggressively you jig them. Take a minute or two to watch your lure just hang down in the water a couple feet every so often. If it is spinning, take time to snip the lure off and walk your line off at least as deep as your fishing is maybe 10 feet more. Then re-wind as mentioned and re-tie. Fish will be very likely to shun a spinning jig hung in front of their nose."
So I guess we are only a few weeks away. Simcoe is freezing quickly and North Bay is about a week ahead of its Southern Sister. I'll get into more gear selections and tests in the coming weeks. Holidays start in a week and I will be booking the first Ice Trip for january 2nd. Hope for the best!
Keep your Pole in the Hole!