Blue Water
Blue Water

Braid - the super-hero string offers so many benefits

Estimated read time
Scott Cushman
March 2007

We are all familiar with the application of braid line for deep water fishing and for casting soft baits and jigs. But this unique line has the potential to revolutionise our approach in many more areas, from live baiting for kingfish to straylining for snapper.

Gelspun line, also known as braid has certainly become popular for its advantages over monofilament. As you have no doubt heard, read or experienced, braid line is the mainstay of soft bait and deep water fishermen in New Zealand.

Its almost zero stretch means it is exceptional at imparting movement to a fisherman’s lure as the rod is twitched and shaken. Its other main advantage is that it is extremely thin, especially when compared to the same strength mono. For example, 10kg mono is typically 0.40mm in diameter while 10kg braid (depending on the brand) is approximately 0.22mm.

This is an excellent feature and there are benefits for several different types of fishing. Surf fisherman who have to contend with the frustrations of strong currents tugging at their line, dampening bites of fish and threatening to pull their sinker back into shore, can overcome or lessen these obstacles with thin diameter braid. Since you can fit more braid onto a reel, it also aids casting, particularly on fixed spool reels.

Large snapper like this often win against 10kg mono in rocky country, however swapping to heavier braid will help even the score.

As you probably already know, as a sinker and bait or a lure are catapulted towards the horizon, line spirals off the reel. Friction from the line hitting the spool lip causes the line to slow, especially as the line level shrinks. However with braid the line level does not reduce so dramatically so there is not as much friction to reduce speed and distance.

Soft bait users have probably also tried straylining with their soft bait outfit and have noticed the nibblers and soft biters when using regular bait. Bites are detected more easily and I have started to use baits more often on my soft bait rig than soft baits.

Braid can also act as a kind of insurance. Winding on an extra few hundred metres of braid before adding monofilament means you have extra line in reserve should you hook a fish large enough to run long distances, for example when targeting a marlin or other large game from  the land.

Big Tuna on Braid

One form of fishing I have been reading about has been the long range tuna fishery off the West Coast of the USA. There are a number of operators based in San Diego who often head south into Mexican waters. They target large yellowfin tuna which sometimes exceed 100kg and are nicknamed ‘cows’.

Their rigs mostly involve smaller sized reels with several hundred metres of braid and 60kg braid is not uncommon when targeting these large fish. Although one would usually use 130lb or 12/0 sized reels with this strength line, 50lb or 5/0 is the norm. The photo of the large yellowfin is a great example; caught in Mexican waters it was subdued with an Avet 50 reel, 60kg braid and a circle hook.

Most fishermen attach a ‘top shot’ or shorter section of mono to the braid, which is sometimes straight fluorocarbon. When the mono wears, they simply replace it; and here is another advantage of braid over mono – it is a lot more durable, especially against UV damage. It can still chafe and get damaged, but it seems to handle more abuse than mono of the same diameter.

Dennis Hytinen shows the benefits of using heavy braid with his huge 100kg plus yellowfin tuna taken in Mexican waters.

One braid manufacturer estimated that their braid would last for 10 years before needing replacement as long as there wasn’t any abrasion damage. It can also cause damage too. Braid run over any soft tissue at pressure will slice human skin without too much trouble.

Smaller reels of mostly metal construction able to output high drag ratings are popular for handling braid lines. Avet and Accurate are two US manufacturers that have cult followings in the tuna scene.  

Looking at how braid has been used in various fisheries I think there are more possibilities for the average Kiwi fisherman to exploit, other than soft plastics and deep water fishing. While you may already own a soft plastic outfit, here are some more opportunities that you may want to consider adding to your fishing arsenal.

For the land-based fisherman and many boaties the fixed spool reel loaded with 10kg mono is one of the most popular rigs around. Targeting the light-to-middle weight species of our waters (snapper, kahawai, trevally, blue cod etc.) this rig can handle most fish that swim. However, once something big like a kingfish turns up, this set up can be overpowered fairly quickly.

A live piper fished from the rocks on braid.

Even The Odds

For the land-based fisherman who target kingfish on a regular basis, an overhead game reel with 24kg mono is a fairly standard outfit used to try and beat the kingfish.

However, if you had a spare spool with 24kg braid and swapped it over you would add another string to that fishing bow and enable you to take advantage of a fairer fight with a cruising king. For anglers fishing for big snapper in rough rocky country where the fish has the advantage, heavy braid can mean you have a better chance of securing a feed. Sometimes it’s prudent to fish the heavier gear first to catch dinner before swapping to lighter sporting gear for fun.  

There are several things to consider – the extra strain of 24kg may not transfer smoothly to the drag, gears and shaft of a regular saltwater eggbeater reel. Most reels made to carry 10kg line will not handle the abuse of 8kg of drag pressure shaking through its fittings.

Manufacturers have realised this and there are many premium reels on the market able to withstand this kind of power. The high end reels (with high end price tags) that are most well known in the market are the Shimano Stellas and Daiwa Saltiga/Dogfights.

In rocky, kelp-ridden ground - the same place big snaps live - braid can give you the winning edge.


Picking a reel that will handle braid isn’t simply about a strong drag, as the gearing and other componentry also needs to be able to handle the pressures that braid can dish out.

Spooling up these reels with 24kg braid may cost an arm and a lung, so packing some mono underneath before attaching 200 or more metres of braid on top is the more economical way to go. Probably the easiest way to make the connection is with a 12- turn (tightly woven) bimini twist tied in the braid, and a regular 20-turn bimini in the mono; then a loop to loop or cat’s paw knot joining the two together. Originally, because of braid’s slippery texture, 30-60-turn biminis were used but an article in a US magazine reported testing 12-turn biminis which regularly had a higher breaking strain than 20+ turn knots in 10kg and 24kg braid from different manufacturers.

Rigging up the business end is fairly easy. A bimini knot in the braid and then a 2m leader of 30kg mono attached with an Albright Knot is a good set up.

You can buy books of knots which show all of these knots in detail, or find them on the web. Just search the knot by name.

Braid again has the advantage over mono where delicate, small live baits are used. Piper rate regularly as the number one kingfish live bait and, as I have written before, I have never seen a kingfish refuse a live piper. The trick is trying to keep them alive. They are delicate and can’t tow around a heavy swivel, leader, line and float. However, with a shorter 24-30kg leader, small float and braid main line they have a much better chance at surviving - until a kingfish or big snapper turns up. You can rig up other small fish the same way, again increasing their longevity.

Kingfish play dirty. Even the odds with braids.


One last advantage that I have noticed with using braid has been its benefits when it comes to getting long drifts off the rocks. Being a lot lighter it doesn’t sink the same way heavy mono does, so there is less chance of snagging the bottom.
As discussed, it also is less tiring for the live baits.

There are, of course, disadvantages. Braid typically is coated or infused with Teflon (or a Teflon-like substance) to increase its stiffness to aid casting without creating wind knots. However, when the coating wears off with frequent use, annoying wind knots appear, especially when casts are not made smoothly. There isn’t much you can do about this other than diligently watch how you cast. Try and use a slower, smoother action, avoiding the ‘snap’ when punching out the bait.

As you may have noticed, braid is not cheap. It can be half the size in diameter compared to mono, but may be three times the price. While it is more durable and will last longer, it can cost a lot of money and many anglers stick to mono for this reason. In situations where line is regularly lost, like in harsh terrain and dirty-fighting fish, you may think you are buying shares in your local tackle retailer. He will probably have your credit card number memorised from frequent use anyway. Failing that, see if you can buy a bulk spool and get a mate to share the cost and the line.

Because braid doesn’t stretch, hooks may pull more easily and fish lost because there is no give in the line. Some guys fish their drag on the light side so that the hooks don’t pull on the strike but then add extra pressure during the fight with their fingers. Fast, strong surges can also cause the hooks
to pull during a fight. The other danger is the line snapping. Sudden pressure coupled with no stretch can quickly push the knots or line past its breaking strain.

So, there you have it. Some ideas on braid that can enhance your fishing, and hopefully put some of the bigger and stronger fish into your bag that normally leave you hookless and shaking your head.

Angler's Planet
Angler's Planet

NZ Fishing World presents Angler's Planet

Buy and sell in the marketplace, post and comment on fishing reports and forums, AI-assisted trip planning. Beta access coming.

Register now!

Related Posts

Featured Posts

Drop NZ Fishing World a line!

When we get home and clean the boat we'll get back to you.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.