Text: Alan Bulmer Featured image: Guy Harvey
For many years now I’ve been spin fishing with low stretch conventional or fused braid. The main reasons that I originally switched to using braid were the increased casting distance, improved sensitivity to takes and a dramatic reduction in twist when using bladed spinners. At present, I’m using 1.5 PE conventional braid with a rated breaking strain of 8.8 kilograms and it is perfect for anything encountered from the shore in the estuaries that I fish. My braid of choice is Sunline Super Braid 5 as it is colour coded. The colour changes every 10 metres and there are divisions within each colour to mark every metre. This allows me to accurately determine how far I cast and ensure that the lure is fished the same way from cast to cast.
If you want to read more detail about spinning with braid then click on the following link:- https://activeanglingnz.com/2016/02/23/tips-for-spinning-with-fused-braid/
One of the most important things that is needed when you switch to using braid is a shock trace. The shock trace effectively acts as a spring at the end of the line to cushion any sudden surges from the fish, especially when it is close to being landed. If a shock trace is not used then it is very likely that excessive exertions from the fish will lead to the hooks tearing out as braid has virtually no stretch and consequently minimal shock absorption capability. With a 2.4 – 2.7 metre rod I typically attach a shock trace of 1.8 – 2 metres to the end of the braid using a six turn Surgeon’s knot. This ensures that the knot is kept outside of the rod at all times when casting. For more information on the Surgeon’s knot click on:- http://www.animatedknots.com/surgeonsjoin/#ScrollPoint
I’ve trialled many brands of nylon monofilament and fluorocarbon as shock traces over the years and finally selected one which seems to have the perfect blend of elasticity and abrasion resistance for the areas that I routinely fish. It is a USA made, memory free nylon monofilament made by Sunset called Amnesia and it is phenomenal product. Amnesia is used extensively as a shock trace elsewhere on the planet and has a huge following in the UK. It is used because it works and is exceptional value for money. Many of the products marketed as shock leaders, even those produced in Japan from fluorocarbon, are often not as effective as Amnesia.
As a rough rule of thumb, a shock leader should ideally only stretch by about 10 – 15% under load. If it stretches by more than 15% then it is typically too elastic for a shock leader as this increase in elasticity can affect the hook set. If it stretches by less than 10% under load then it is probably too stiff and not going to be of much value as a shock leader. Interestingly, monofilaments that stretch by more than 15% under load often seem to have poor abrasion resistance whereas those which stretch less than 10% typically are stiff and abrasion resistant. It is a real balancing act to find a monofilament leader (including fluorocarbon) which is both elastic and abrasion resistant at the same time.
An Amnesia monofilament leader of around 1.8 – 2 metres helps absorb the energy on the cast and this reduces the chances of breaking off when distance casting. It is just as effective when used as a snag leader as it has very good abrasion resistance.
I generally use 15lb. clear Amnesia as it is knots well with a six turn Surgeon’s knot to 8.8 kilogram Sunset Super braid 5 PE 1.5 conventional braid, 8 kilogram Berkley Fireline or NanoFil fused braid. It is marvellous when targeting spooky fish in snag infested waters. If there are apex predators, such as kingfish, around then I’ll step up to 9 kilogram Amnesia. It is always worth stretching the Amnesia and running the braid between a tightly clenched thumbnail and forefinger to condition the braid prior to knotting.
As an aside, monofilament was originally developed in the 1960’s as a ‘shooting line’ for fly anglers, allowing them to cast far greater distances than had previously been achieved. This was due to its thin diameter and round profile which cut guide friction on casting. The bright red product was frequently used as backing behind a shooting head fly line and was very popular on the Tongariro back in the day when wet lining was “de rigueur”.
Sunset apparently developed a way to produce monofilament line without ‘memory’, the term used to describe how line has a tendency to return to its original coiled position on the spool once cast. Increased memory means it wants to coil more, reduced memory means it wants to coil less. As Sunset claimed the line had no memory at all, it became known as Amnesia. Fifty years later and it’s still the number one leader choice for many UK anglers being used extensively across all disciplines; fly, coarse, carp, and sea angling. For some reason clear Amnesia never really seems to have gained widespread acceptance in NZ and is hard to get hold of.
Traces made of Amnesia must be stretched thoroughly before use to remove any loops and it is good to go for the rest of the session. When it is used as a backing for a shooting head line it also should be stretched to remove the loops before the line is cast. For the rest of the day, Amnesia will lay in loose, tangle free loops. When the shooting head is released, Amnesia shoots up through the guides freely, without the knotting or the set of monofilament coils to slow it passage.
Amnesia is round in profile which means that is superior to flattened or oval monofilament because it offers less resistance and effectively cuts through the water. Flattened monofilament has a greater surface area which means that it sinks more slowly developing slack and retarding the sinking of the head.
I’ve also used Amnesia in the manufacture of shock resistant tapered leaders for saltwater fly fishing and it is also very good for this. Some freshwater fly fishermen use the bright red or lime green Amnesia as the butt section of a leader when nymphing as the short section of high visibility line aids strike detection. Apparently it is now becoming popular as traces for Czech nymphing and Tenkara fishing.
If you want to see the leader designs that I commonly use for saltwater leaders with Amnesia then click on:- https://activeanglingnz.com/2015/03/05/leaders-for-saltwater-fly-fishing/