Up until about seven months ago all my knowledge of braid was related to how it was used in hook links and I can't really claim to be any kind of expert on that either. Since then though I have pretty much used it exclusively as a main line and in doing so I have really developed an idea of what I want from a braid whilst learning that not all braid is equal.
So far I used a few types of braid and in doing so have concluded that although they all essentially do the same thing, they are not all the same in reality. I began with an older version power pro which unlike the new generation of the same stuff was very noisy when reeled across the rod rings. Next came Jig silk from Fox which I love to use on my finesse outfit but is rather prone to wind knots, and wind knots aren't cheap where braid is concerned. Then I came across a good deal on Savage Gear Finezze HD4 braid on-line. My God, the low diameter of this was unbelievable. Apart from the colour which I bought it in that isn't great, only one thing let it down for me and that's the way it beds into itself when you have to pull out a snag or out of a snag.
I have also spent quite a lot of time examining various other braids to try and find one that's just right and I have not been doing too well with that in truth. That was until I by pure chance found a spool of HTO Rockfish ultra braid in a local tackle shop, Specimen Tackle UK, for the paltry price of £10. I'd heard a lot about how good their LRF rods are and given the great value of this line I thought it would be worth a punt.
With two sessions on the cards on consecutive crappy days I decided it might be interesting to actually fish one with what I was currently using and then in between sessions re-spool with the new stuff to see how it compared on the second session.
So firstly I hit the tow path with the Savage Gear Finezze HD4 and given how windy it was I knew this was going to be a real test. It wasn't easy trying to present a lure well with the wind tugging the line around, but I did manage to find a few fish. Firstly, a small zander grabbed one of my favourite Pumpkin paddler grubs right as I bounced it over the nearside marginal shelf.
That was followed by a second smaller zedlet which I tried to hand out and ended up losing. A lot of canal, a few snags and change to an orange kopyto later, I struck into another a really nice thick set zander tight to a boats hull, which went crazy and thrashed round all over the canal before going in the net.
Three hours on the cut and three fish was actually very good going considering how bad the wind was. The braid performed well, but as I knew would be the case, this line is impossible to see on even the shortest cast in the day's dull conditions and every time I put any pressure onto the line to pull from a snag it would take several casts to un-bed the line. This bedding-in issue I am sure is down to the low diameter and profile of the line, both of which combine to let the tightening coils pull in between any below them that aren't under as much tension.
So at home a few hours later I carefully wound the Savage Gear Finezze HD4 onto a spare spool and re-spooled with the HTO Rockfish ultra braid. Straight away I could see it was thicker as the diameter implied on the packaging, but I could also see the lines profile seemed to flatten on the spool which made it lay better on top of itself.
The fact that this new line is a very bright yellow obviously made it easy to see as I cast a clown cannibal shad into the far bank cover. The jig head never got the lure to the bottom before a micro jack hit and I actually saw the line tighten before I felt the fish, which was great.
It was purely down to fairness that I kind of wanted to find a snag, and as I was on a canal it didn't take long before I was towing a large branch across the canal. The braid was tough as they all seem to be, but instead of bedding into itself it seemed to just lay on top as I hoped it might. Then it only took a single cast to check the line would spill off the spool well on the cast before I was off and fishing again.
The canal in this particular area seems to clear really well overnight and that combined with the bright white cannibal shad, was the perfect combination when I found a shoal of small zander loitering in the trench. By covering the same ten square feet of canal from different angles I kept the eager little hunters coming after the lure. On most casts they were chasing the shad and nipping at it, judging from the pulls on the bright yellow braid. Then when one would make a committed grab a quick strike would send pressure down the new braid and catch the culprit in the lip most times.
It wasn't until the rain started and a trio of rude speeding boaters passed that the sport stalled. Even by changing lures and retrieve I couldn't get any more fish to attack in the now turbid water.
As for the braid I have to say well done to HTO with the Rockfish ultra braid. It performs just as well as all the other braids I have used, but has lays on the spool well, doesn't bed in under pressure and the high visibility not only helps to see what your lure is doing but makes watching hits pure joy. On top of that I never encountered a single wind knot even with the wind in my face all day; all that for only ten quid is a bargain in my books.
I must say that as braid lasts forever I never throw it away. The original power pro I bought I use on a heavy lure outfit for bigger plugs. The Fox Jig silk for all the trouble it gives me remains my favourite braid for super light lure fishing and the Savage Gear Finezze HD4 is being saved for any possible trips to deep reservoirs that might come along in the future, where those super fine braids are key.