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Spectra Issues and maintenance for All Anglers

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#1 fishordie

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 12:16 PM

Good morning all,

Originally I wrote this in response to someone who had some questions or issues with Spectra breaking well below its rated strength. I figured this would be a good general issue thread so please realize it was written as a response and not as a new thread.

Over the last several years I am finding a number of anglers popping/breaking their Spectra at lower than expected drag settings. I have done extensive testing on many of these lines and have found your situation can only happen under 4 conditions as 100 pound spectra easily can handle any shock type start when fishing a reel set at the drag settings you have noted: As a note I have seen 200 pound spectra pop due to the same findings so here is what I have found to be the culprits.

1. On Very, Very, Very rare occasions there is a bad batch of line manufactured. I have seen this on one fresh bulk spool to date and have heard about it just a couple of times. With the millions of feet run I would expect this to happen just not very often. I am not sure what makes the batch bad other than it just does not hold up or perhaps the bulk spool experienced some sort of excessive heat or ?? in transportation.

2. More often than not there is a nick or abrasion in the line. Spectra loses a ton of strength (Most of its strength actually) when nicked. Spectra is not a great abrasion resistant material regardless of the pound test. However, it is amazing stuff when there are no nicks or abrasions.

3. The line was put on by someone not familiar with spooling Spectra. Perhaps due to over-zealousness in putting the line on with a bunch of tension the installer accidentally (Or on purpose if you pissed them off) wound the line on where the Spectra "Dug" into the balance of the lined spool. This can also happen when anglers button down their drags for a variety of reasons when on a fish. Spectra can absolutely dig in when the line is wrapped side by side or even on the ends of the spool if the line is not applied back onto the reel properly. When we first started playing with this stuff there was a consensus to criss cross the pattern when loading it on the reel. Today there all sorts of ideas how not to dig in or how much criss cross you need or do not need. For me I still tend to do some minimal criss crossing both when loading new Spectra as well as when on a fish or retrieving line but that idea will vary from user to user.

4. The reel drags were jerky or stuck. No question more pressure is applied to a reel at rest than a spinning spool when going into strike regardless of where you set your drags. Unfortunately a poorly maintained reel will compound this issue.

Even when fishing on the troll where the reels are in gear 100 pound Spectra should absolutely never break with 20 pounds of drag at the reel unless one of the above occurs.

The worst examples of this were last year fishing Clarion Island and the Boobie birds were swarming everything in the water by the thousands. Everyone was feeling their lines slapped by the wings of these birds when they dove into the water or flew through the air chasing chummed bait.
The Problem arose when their Beaks or Claws hit the spectra either in air or in the water as these are razor sharp and could easily nick the line. I watched as one angler popped his 200 pound test Spectra noting he must have had a bad batch. Upon further inspection I saw this line was loaded with nicks which I attributed to those birds causing a great weakening of the line.

I have seen the same thing happen with short top shots and Wahoo as well as long top shots and Wahoo. These things come through with open mouths aiming to grab a swimming bait or chum and those razor sharp teeth nick someone's line. The angler thinks he or she has a short bite and simply winds in finding their still intact bait safely attached to the hook. They re-bait up and out the new bait goes only so have the line snap at the nick the next time they hook up.

Another place where Spectra can be nicked or weakened is when undoing spectra tangles especially if there is a hook involved. I have watched as passengers and or crew in a rush pull a hook through a tangle where the barb or point of the hook accidentally nicks the line or opens up and cuts a few threads in the weave. This happens on more occasions than folks realize. The smart angler, upon being released from the tangle, inspects the now free line as he or she reels in trying to look for fraying strands or nicks where the once tangled lines met.

Of course rubbing on the bottom of the boat or on other folks spectra are two more places abrasions or nicks can occur. Spectra has very poor heat resistance so anytime two or more lines are moving while wrapped around each other there undoubtedly will be an issue of line weakening.

Though it is a pain in the rear it is imperative to inspect your line anytime you even slightly suspect you have had an issue of any kind including looking at your exposed line while the rig is in the racks. I have noted before how often, by accident, someone walking or running down the sides of the boat hit the exposed lines of racked rods causing nicks in top shots or spectra.

When in a tangle or birds are pecking or?? try and note approximately where the top of your line is on the spool so you can go back later and inspect it. Cut out any questionable sections of line and re-splice. Of course seeing a different color on your line when it has rubbed off bottom paint from the boat is very easy to find, cut out and re splice, if you are using a hollow Spectra product. I am rather anal about this issue where I actually chose to remove about 350 yds of Spectra on all my reels used at Clarion and replaced with new Spectra I spliced back in. Funny, I never once worried about nicks after splicing in the new Spectra. Expensive but I assure you I did not once think about the cost once I was back out on my next long range trip knowing I had fresh good line. Call it insurance, call it peace of mind, call it whatever you wish but any angler who has to worry about nicks in his or her line is just not going to have as good a time as those of us who have taken steps to remove this possibility.

Though Spectra is incredibly resistant to natural issues such as salt build up, grease or oil from fingers, etc. Spectra is just not great on abrasion, heat or nicks.


#2 Kilsong

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 01:41 PM

Thanks Jamie for another excellent article.

I notice there are some bad batches of braid while I spool lines for customers.

I think many braid lines get broken when tuna make runs regardless of brands when using heavy drag, especially on the first powerful run because line digging problems.

Even you spool very tightly, line digging problem still exists when you use light line and heavy drag like 30 plus lb drag.

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