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My Line Broke When I Set the Hook…

Has this ever happened to you? My son called me asking why his line broke!


Photo © Ron Brooks

Braided Line

Photo © Ron Brooks
First of all, line should not break just because you are setting a hook. The drag on your reel will protect the line and there is no way you can break your line simply by jerking on your rod… or is there?...

Braided Line or Monofilament?

I go back and forth with my line preferences. I reach a time when I swear by my monofilament and swear at braided line. Then something happens – I try some braid and it works just fine. For some period of time I swear by my braided line. The truth be known, I have about half my reels spooled with braided line and half of them with monofilament, or in some cases with fluorocarbon line.

The basics differences between braid and monofilament are easy to list. Braid does not stretch, monofilament does. Braid is very thin compared to monofilament. Braid is very visible in most cases, and monofilament is unusually clear. But, perhaps the most overlooked quality or feature of braided line is that it can break easily. Brittle? It seems so soft and pliable when it is limp, but it has a quality which will cause it to snap with far less pressure than the actual pound rating of the line.

What Makes Braided Line Break?

Have you ever taken a leather belt and held it with one end in one hand and the other end in the other hand? You put your two hands together and then jerk them apart, holding on to the belt. It reaches its ends and “pops” with a loud sound. That leather does not stretch. And the jerking motion makes it pop when it gets tight. Braided line will do the same thing. You can wrap it around both of your hands, jerk them apart, and the line will pop. And, if you jerk hard enough, you can actually break the braided line – and at a much less poundage than the advertised strength of the line.

So, here is what actually happens. You’re fishing along and get a bite. You reel a little slack up and get ready to set the hook. Imperceptibly you drop the rod tip just a hair before you jerk the rod to set the hook. That little bit of slack can mean a broken line. This is particularly true if the line has developed any memory and you give it enough slack for the line to have a small loop in it. The braided line can and will snap at a weak spot in the line. Those weak spots are either at a knot juncture, at a frayed spot, or in our case, right where that small loop is pulled together sharply.

How to Prevent Your Line From Breaking

Here is how I deal with braided line breakage. I have to remind myself constantly that I am fishing with braid. I make a mental note not to drop the rod tip and not to allow any slack in my line. When I set the hook, I usually reel a couple turns on my reel while I lift the rod and tighten the line – and then set the hook. This insures that I have no slack and no loops in my line. I also inspect my line to look for any nicks in the braid. Braided line can be nicks and cut by rocks, pilings, oysters – literally anything sharp in the water. So preventing a weak spot means I avoid a broken line.

A “K-note” on Knots

Most of the knots we use for monofilament do not work well for braid. Simply put – they slip. People constantly ask me about a good knot for braided line. I have one knot that I use almost exclusively for braid and it works well. The Palomar knot I use does not allow the braided line to slip. This knot also makes a double round on the hook eyes, giving it extra strength there. If I am using 15 pound test braid, it has the diameter of 4 to 6 pound test monofilament. That’s not a lot of diameter on a hook eye. The Palomar doubles my strength there.

I also use fluorocarbon leader with my braided line and usually tie them together without a swivel. With monofilament I use a double surgeon’s knot here. With the braid, I use a barrel knot on the fluorocarbon side and the Palomar on the braided side. Once again the doubled part of the braided line helps prevent the braid from cutting through the fluorocarbon.

I have tried numerous combinations and knots. Some knots work well but get very complicated to tie. In all my experience the Palomar knot is the easiest to tie and strongest non-slipping knot I have found.

Bottom Line

Bottom braided line that is… Keep a tight line and a good knot!
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