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June 2002
Silver Spoons
August 2002
Starting Flats Fishing
September 2002
Beginning Gear - pt. 1
October 2002
Beginning Gear - pt. 2
November 2002
The Courteous Angler
Dec 2002/Jan 2003
Reflections at the
Tide Change
February 2003
Jerkbaits, another look
March 2003
How important is presentation?
April 2003
When to fish...?
May 2003
New ideas
September 2003
Flats Fishing 101 (recap)
December 2003
Another flats fishing year ends
Jan - Feb 2004
New year, new opportunities
March 2004
Flats fishing on any budget
August 2004
Special Request - Hurricane Report
Equipment for beginning flats fishing - part 2
October 2002

Last month I gave you information based on my experience and a little personal opinion on Rods and Reels for flats fishing. If you have any feedback on the comments in the article I would like to hear from you. This month I will be looking at line and terminal tackle. I suppose this could have all been covered in fewer words but I wanted to give some options and provide some background information to allow the reader to make a decision based on the unique needs for the type of fishing and location you will likely experience.

I am not writing this article from the position of 'expert' but what I have gathered from other anglers, read from 'experts' and then applied based on practical experience. As much as I would like to think there is one right answer I just don't think there is one. When I have seen contradicting information from professionals I figured that at some point common sense and a coin flip would have to help finalize my choices when there was an option.

This should be simple enough, right? You just go down to the local Wal-Mart/K-mart or bait and tackle shop and get a spool of line with a high enough strength to pull in a big fish. Well, that might work. But, it might not give you the best chances to catch a fish on your outings. In fact, like so many other sports, the vendors add new and improved products and a larger variety so fast your head will spin.

I have been around long enough I remember that some old outfits we had as kids had some kind of braided nylon line. Then the 'new' development was monofilament. It was strong, smaller diameter and did not soak up water the same way the braided line did. Mono has continued to develop to provide better performance. Modern mono line has the same strength in much smaller diameters and less line memory. This provides much better casting performance and more stealth when presenting your lure. When you pick your mono today you will likely choose between a limper, better casting line that is less abrasion resistant or the stiffer, larger diameter of the strength you settle on. Your other decision will be a choice of a Hi-Vis color or a clear line. This does not seem to be as critical for most salt water angling as you almost always will have a heavier test 'shock' tippet added to attach your terminal tackle.

Your choices are not limited to monofilament today. Similar to monofilament are copolymer lines which combine mono with other polymers to provide better characteristics. A line may have fluorocarbon coating as one brand does that may provide some of the same reduction in visibility as a fluorocarbon shock tippet. I settled on a copolymer after talking to staff at my local Bass Pro Shop. I have had no problems with the line (P-line).

You have another choice to spool up with though. Braided or 'super' lines. These are different the the old braided lines I mentioned from days past. These lines are braids of various polymers and as well various methods of braiding. One of the first lines of this type, SpiderWire, introduced lines with much smaller diameter for a given strength. These lines may also provide better abrasion resistance. One major difference in these lines is the sensitivity. Due to the construction of the line there is little or no stretch. This can provide an advantage in many fishing situations. For those who do not adjust it can be a liability though. I have seen descriptions of anglers pulling the hook set right out of the fish. Another consideration for braided super lines is the cost. You will pay a premium for spooling your reel with the line.

There are some considerations for braided line. First, all braided lines are not the same. When I bought an outfit at Bass Pro shop and inquired about the braided line one person suggested it and another nixed it based on whether they thought it would cut into the guides on the rod. If I had chosen braided line at that time Bass Pro would not have spooled it on my reel because of guide problems. A recent product on the market 'PowerPro' states that it does not harm guides due to the way the braid is constructed. With the success of PowerPro (many of my peers are using it) other vendors have improved their lines and answered concerns. New on the market as I write this SpiderWire has added 'Stealth' line which is impregnated with teflon. This enhances casting, line dig in, guide protection and knot strength.

If you choose a braided line keep these things in mind. Before you spool the line you should run on a base of mono which allows the line to pack on your spool better. You can actually get by with only the amount of braided line as you may cast and fill the spool with less expensive mono. This may also provide a benefit for long running fish as the mono provides some stretch as the fish runs out line on the mono. Next, you should pay close attention to knots. Check any information provided with your line or check the manufacturer web site for knot information. As a rule braided super lines are 'slicker' than mono and typical mono knots may not hold. The uni-knot can be used for most but should use more turns and if possible double the line before tying the knot. One other concern I have heard from several anglers is that if the braided line gets nicked, either on an obstruction or maybe school fish around the fish you are fighting it may separate.

Other new lines are out and worth a look. I hope to have the opportunity to report on a couple in my reviews here. Stren offers a new copolymer called 'Magnaflex' that should offer better casting and lower line memory. Berkley has a new line that is stated to be a 'Reinforced Polymer Matrix' monofilament providing very high abrasion resistance.

Recommendation, unless you really want to try the braided line the mono/copolymer line will provide excellent performance and add ease of use for attaching leaders and lures.

With all of the tackle available you might think that this section would be longer than the information on line. It could be but I want to just mention the basics here. And with terminal tackle it can be pretty simple. If you have read my previous article you have in depth information about one of my most used lures, the silver spoon. Here is what I suggest for starting out.

You need a topwater plug. The most common is a top walking lure such as the Zara Spook or Top Dog. They either rattle or not and some are heavier than others. Another top water option is a chug or popping lure.

You should have a shallow running or suspending lure. An example of this is the Jumping Mullet or Catch 2000 (from MirrorLure).

A weedless spoon is mandatory in my book.

Softbaits of some type. These are similar to the Texas or Carolina rigs used for freshwater bass. In addition you should have a DOA shrimp. There is nothing quite like it and it is a productive lure that is perfect for certain situations.

A jig head and grub. Possibly if you had only one lure this may be it. It can be fished in so many different ways either shallow or deep in a water column. I have hea
rd that this is the most productive lure of all time and is included in emergency kits for armed services.

In each of these categories there are many options. Weight, size, color, rattle or quiet, action, fast or slow retrieve, weedless or not and material. Price can be a consideration and there is not guarantee that spending more will result in more fish on a lure.

I hope to add information with more detail on various lures in future articles. For now, if you have questions, comments or corrections...

Let me know what you think.

Good Fishing,

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