Line Extremes: Part 1

To my surprise the most common questions that roll in to the site are those about line. Whether it be about specific techniques or more generalized questions, anglers really want to understand the line they are using. No longer do anglers settle for pros telling them to throw line “x” or line “y”. Now they want to know when, how, and most important, WHY.
In the past I’ve told you that I use braid in nearly every application. I’ve also explained my reasoning behind that so for today we will skip past it. Whether you use braid, mono, or flouro, I believe this topic will apply equally. I call it fishing the “Line Extremes” for big bass. Personally, these extremes apply to my leader material but for you it may apply to your main line.
Let’s define what I mean by extremes. On a given day you will not find a lot of “in between” line sizes on my boat. Sure, there are techniques that require 8, 10, 12, and 15 lb line but those typically aren’t big bass applications. For the sake of today’s discussion I will be ignoring applications that require these line sizes.
In part 2 I will discuss fishing with extremely light line and why it can be deadly effective but today we’re going to discuss the other end of the spectrum.
Extremely heavy line has its place, even in clear water. Many anglers are shocked to find that I use 65-80 lb braid and 25-30 lb mono and flourocarbon leaders for every day techniques. I can often be found flipping a jig on 25 lb, swimbaiting on 30 lb, or throwing a topwater on 80 lb. Why do I do this when I am knowingly eliminating bites? Simple… I don’t believe I am eliminating bites at all. If I fished with 30 lb monofilament every day of the year I would absolutely be hurting myself but by studying the conditions you will realize that sometimes the bass don’t care about line size. On those days, fishing with extremely heavy line actually helps you catch bigger fish.
The obvious question at this point is, “how can heavy line help?” I’m going to use a video as an example.

Prior to this video I noticed that despite crystal clear conditions the bass did not seem to respond to changes in line size at all. Instead of continuing to use light line I stepped up to a very heavy flourocarbon. When I hooked this bass I immediately knew I was in trouble. The fish had managed to get the hook in her lower jaw, right where I would normally lip her. As the fight nears the boat it becomes clear that I can’t grab her. She was shaking and thrashing and was sure to come off at any minute if I didn’t make a quick decision. If I had been using light line I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about the situation but since I had stepped up my line size, I literally grabbed the line and dragged her into the boat with no fear of breakage.
In this case, I can thank my heavy line for getting this bass in the boat. Will this logic work in every application? There are times when sticking to heavy line will result in less (or no) fish. However, if you learn to watch the bass’ response it becomes very obvious when you can step up line size to maximize your chance of landing a trophy bass.
…More to come in part 2.