I have had a serious love/hate relationship with braided lines over the past few years – they’re very necessary for the types of inshore fishing that I do but are expensive, have lots of quirks and are hard for inexperienced fishermen to use. However, being that I fish in areas with extensive oyster rocks – it’s either use braid and deal with the wind knots or lose lots and lots of lures and tackle. I have decided that it’s worth using braid.

Before I move on, there are a couple of techniques that I tell all folks to try when using braided line in order to reduce wind knots.

1)Always flip the bail with your hand so that…

2)…you can better guide the line onto the spool so that is tight – when the line goes onto the spool loosely…that’s when loops form. And when loops occur, knots happen.

However, not all braids are created equal and I found myself getting very annoyed trying to use different braids for muliple applications. So, in my pursuit to find a line that produces the fewest “Ten dollar knots,” over the past two months I have done a pretty extensive experiment using just about every “super braid” line on the market. I made sure that we used each type for several methods of fishing and that each line was used by anglers of various skill and experience. While I am sure many folks have different and varying opinions of these lines, this is my educated observations from watching others use these lines.

All lines were tested on Shimano Sahara 2000s and Penn AF2000s. I rate them on a level of 1 to 5.

Power Pro – 3

One of the best known braids, this spectra line is limp and probably the strongest of all those on the market. It’s a great line for drum fishing in areas of heavy cover – docks and oyster bars. It works best (with the smallest chance of wind knots) when used with lures like spinnerbaits and top-dogs – ie lures that you are in constant contact with and thus have no slack line. However, when using grubs (particularly for trout fishing) it is extremely susceptiple to wind knots and tangles up even when in the hands of very experienced anglers. However, its knot strength is very good.

Spider Wire Stealth – 2

The replacement for the much-missed Spiderwire Fusion (a great line despite its propencity to wear out), I was very dissapointed with this line. It works fine with lures like spinnerbaits but is more prone to knotting up than power pro. When it comes to using light lures like grubs – this line is difficult to use, particularly for inexperienced anglers and it has a very high probability of knots (particularly with grubs).

Tough Line XP – 1
This very soft, limp spectra line is well-liked by experienced anglers and casts well but is very difficult for many anglers to use – it jumps off the spool, loops easily and knots extremely easily…and its knots are very difficult to remove. Particularly when used with grubs, it is nothing for even an experienced angler to backlash an entire spool of line with a couple poor casts. This line is great for people who like soft braids but I do not recommend it for folks who want a good, all-purpose lineor use any type of light grub.

Stren Super Braid – negative 10

Don’t buy. Not even worth mentioning.

Sufix Performance braid – 4.5

This line is very hard to find in North Carolina but is very popular in florida and other southern states – it’s a very strong line (like power pro) and is the least prone to “wind knots” of all the previous mentioned brands. It’s stiffer (like fireline) and is very roun making it very easy to tie knots – in fact it ties almost just like mono. While it’s a great spinnerbait and top-dog line, it is still prone to very occasional knotting when using lighter baits like DOA shrimp and small grubs like Tsunami swim-baits. However, it’s knots are the easiest to remove and I would recommend this line for both inexperienced and experienced anglers. In addition, unlike power-pro this line doesnt fade with use and is very resistant to abrassion. One con is that the two colors of this braid (high vis yellow and dark green) are not as nuetral as any of its competitors.

I’d give it a 5 but I need to use if for a few more weeks – so the jury is still out. I think it’s going to give fireline a serious run for its money and might even be better!

Berkley Firline – 5

This line is the most expensive of all the braided lines I tested, and as frugal as I am, I hate to admit it but this line out-preformed every other line in the group. It doesnt cut into the spool (and lays on the spool very, very well) and rarely loops. It works with all baits – paricularly with light-weight grubs and other small lures. In the hands of some very inexperienced anglers even using light grubs and fishing with rather slack line…the occurance of a wind knot was very rare. The only con is that this line is the weakest of all the braids – the lowest diameter lines (2-4lb diameter) do not provide the strength that power-pro or sufix provides so you will need to use 6-10lb test diameter when drum fishing in heavy cover such as oyster bars.

Berkley Fireline Crystal – 3.5

I have to say that I was really excited about this line but all of my excitement was quickly dashed. The line is not so much clear but opaque and honestly, even the low diameter looks like kite string in the water and is very visible (particularly in cloudy water and still very visible in clearer water). It also has a different texture than regular fireline – it feels more like a spectra braid. It spools nicely but is much more prone to wind-knots than regular fireline. Perhaps even twice as much. While it still does not knot as bad as lines like power pro or spiderwire, it is very very easy to see it is not as easy to deal with as regular fireline.

Over the last week I have had 8 clients of varying skills use fireline crystale while other clients (or myself) used regular fireline or sufix while throwing the same lures. And this comes back to the visibility, when tied directly to the lure and using it for speckled trout fishing we noticed a SERIOUS disparity in hook-ups. Maybe 1 to 8 when trout fishing. Even when fished directly next to regular fireline and when both fishermen were using 24″ florocarbon leaders, the regular fireline hands down outfished the crystal. I always used to claim that the visibility of line didn’t make a difference when fishing – but in this case, i stand corrected. I have never seen the visibility of a line make such a clear difference. For now, Im going to stick with regular fireline for backwater and nearshore fishing.

Best Drum line – Suffix

Best Trout line – Fireline

Best all-around line – Fireline, as of now – Suffix is a very close second. Only time will tell.