A recent debate on social media regarding the use of a braided mainline for uptide fishing sparked much discussion. Seasoned boat angler, Scott Smy, guests on today’s VMO blog to offer his thoughts on the subject…
A recent post on everyone’s favourite media channel Facebook posed the question…..’Can you use braid for Uptiding’? Considering the number of differing views this post generated I thought it would be useful to run through some of the pros and cons of using braid for uptiding, using the Bristol Channel as a casing point.
I guess the simple answer to the question from my and many other anglers perspective is ‘yes’; you can use braid effectively when uptiding. Having spent almost the best part of almost 30 years fishing from boats in the Bristol Channel (both on charters and my own craft) I would like to think I know a thing or two about uptiding in these generally shallow fast-running waters. I have to say for the majority of that time I had been using mono lines in 15-20lb breaking strain along with a 40-50lb leader. However, in the past couple of years my attention has turned to using braid and to be brutally honest I find it a complete joy to use when compared to mono.
The first thing you will discover using braid is that the bite detection is second to none and you can spot the first enquiry on the rod tip long before the fish picks up the bait properly and steams off downtide, which personally has resulted in a greater percentage of positive hook-ups compared to mono. However it is essential that rods are securely fastened down to the boat rail if left unattended as the take from a large smoothhound or ray can be savage to say the least and could lead to rods and reels disappearing over the side, never to be seen again. Also, once hooked the sensitivity of the braid makes playing the fish so much more enjoyable as you can feel every head shake, although this does mean that you have to be careful not to bully the fish too much.
I also find that fishing with braid allows the grip weight to hold much more affectively when fishing in strong currents. On a recent charter trip out of Minehead fishing an offshore sandbank for rays where the tide was steaming through it was noticeable that those uptiding with braid were able to find and hold bottom whilst those using mono struggled to hold until the tide had eased off. The one problem I have found with braid is that occasionally it allows the lead to dig into the seabed a bit too well and has resulted in having to try to pull for a break (trying to break out 30lb braid is not easy and should be left to the skipper).
I have heard of instances where anglers using braid have been cut-off when using it over shallow water reef/coral marks due to the amount of line you need to feed out. This can be a downside to using braid and whilst tying on a leader of 20ft of 40-50lb mono can help reduce tackle losses and make it easier for the skipper when bringing fish to the waiting net, there will be times when you just have to revert back to mono. However the majority of the time this isn’t an issue for the areas I am uptiding which would be considered to be at the lower end of the Channel which are generally a bit deeper and less snaggy than the upper reaches. I guess it’s a case of horses for courses.
A further downside to the use of braid uptiding is the problem of you fishing next to your mate who is still using mono. If you are all using braid on the boat then no problem. However, if some of your fellow anglers are using mono then tangles can become a problem and worst still braid has a tendency to cut through mono when it is under tension. Your mate fishing next to you certainly isn’t going to thank you when your braid slices through his mainline as a 20lb Cod hits the surface just behind the boat!
Fixed spools are becoming increasingly popular on charter boats these days and they are ideal for uptiding when trying to cast from a moving deck. Having initially brought them for use on continental rods for shore fishing, I have been using the Penn Surfblaster 8000 reels for uptiding and have found it to be more than adequate. Apart from the ability to ‘pick-up’ the slack line very quickly (one of the main advantages of a fixed spool), it has a great drag system for when fish get close to the boat. Also being a reel from the Penn stable it is well-built and will certainly handle the pressure put upon it by a large ray or conger hanging in the tide.
A relatively soft action uptider is essential when using braid. I am a big fan of Daiwa boat rods and use the TDX 4-10oz which is probably one of the best uptide rods ever made.
In terms of terminal tackle I have found that using an uptide boom locked between 2 swivels is far more effective than having a sliding boom as this acts like a bolt-rig and results in more hook-ups, especially for fish such as hounds which have a tendency to tear off with the bait. Hook sizes vary according to bait but I rarely find you need anything larger than a 6/0 uptiding out of ports such as Watchet, Minehead etc. Hooks are always Varivas Big Mouth Extra’s which are proven and have never let me down.