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  BHP Tackle :: Hollow Spectra :: Spooling Spectra® on your Reel

Spooling Spectra® on your Reel

Jerry Brown Industries
13413 Highway 234
Gold Hill, OR 97525

Personal Safety: We put safety first!

Concerns about the likelihood for Spectra® to cause cuts have been grossly exaggerated. Spectra® is very small in diameter. But, as with monofilament, the smaller the diameter, the greater chance there could be for cuts. Spectra® should be spooled onto reels under tension, which emphasizes the need for precaution during this operation.

We suggest that you wear gloves when spooling Spectra®. Lightweight knitted polyester gloves work well; they are inexpensive and can be found in the sundries department of most supermarkets. Heavy-duty gloves are usually unnecessary except for very heavy lines requiring high tension. Spool slower when using higher tension to reduce any potential problem.

Spooling reels always involves at least one line cut. Spectra® is difficult to cut because it is made from hundreds of individual fibers; even sharp tools can be dulled quickly. Today, single edge razor blades are made mostly for scraping tasks rather than for shaving; some hardly cut Spectra® without hacking your way through. All dull quickly. They are not recommended.

X-ACTO® tools are very sharp with inexpensive replaceable blades. They are a much better choice than razor blades. The handle keeps your hands away from the blade and they stay sharp for a reasonable time.

Spectra® scissors are now offered by a number of companies. Most start out dull and get worse quickly. After a careful search, we have found just one design that works great and lasts a very long time. Ideal® Spectra Scissors make very clean cuts, do not compress hollow lines closed, and are safe to use. Ideal® Spectra Scissors are hands down the best way to cut Spectra®. They are so good that they will cut a slack line. Try that with any other brand. They also double as neat mono shears, two tools in one.

Corrosion Prevention: An ounce of prevention for the reel.

Spectra® fishing line has a very long useful life, years, unless seriously damaged. On its own, Spectra® does not cause any reel spool corrosion, but salts in water, over a long period, can. Aluminum reel spools are not corrosion proof. The anodizing process often is more for looks than for long-lasting corrosion resistance. For added protection, we suggest that you wax and buff the empty spool with a good carnauba car wax before spooling on line for the first time. Neutral color Kiwi shoe polish works as well. This high-melting temperature wax helps by sealing the porous surface of the aluminum spool against saltwater penetration and subsequent corrosion.

Getting Started: Start with the free end of a line from a rotating spool!

If you unwittingly start spooling off line from a bulk spool without first making sure that you don’t have an under-wrap, you can create a major problem. With an unnoticed under-wrap, the line will spool off quickly for quite a number of yards, all-the-while digging into the service spool deeper and deeper, until tension becomes too great to continue, maybe even breaking the line. The first impression by the surprised observer is to believe that the spool contained many under-wraps from the factory. In subsequent actions, hoping to correct the problem he has caused, he creates even more problems along with great frustration. Too late, but upon serious reflection, he should realize that if the manufacturer fixes one end of the line to a spool and begins continuously winding on line, no under wrap can possibly result.

Before spooling, check that you have not created an under-wrap in the top few feet of line.

After removing a portion of the line from a spool, tape the end of the remaining line to the side of the spool so that an under-wrap is less likely the next time you take line from that spool. Make sure that you are taking off line from a rotating spool, not over the end of the spool, otherwise line twist will occur.

Myth Busting: The truth about line slipping on the spool.

Many mistakenly believe that Spectra® fishing line will slip on the spool unless you take draconian measures to prevent it. Experience has clearly shown that putting on several layers of mono, dacron or duct tape is totally unnecessary. This practice is not recommended to solve a problem that does not even exist. Braided line grips the spool much like tread on a tire grips the road better than a smooth one with an infinitely small contact area.

Before you start spooling a reel, pass the line around the arbor twice and form a good knot such as the Berkley Trilene knot. Cinch it tightly on one side of the spool leaving a long tag end to be laid across the arbor. Spool the first full layer of Spectra® onto the spool in a close side-by-side fashion under tension of 6-8 pounds over the tag end. If this is done, the line will not slip! No exceptions have been reported but try pulling on it at this point if you have any doubts. When convinced, you might tell a friend that it works.

Continue filling the spool under tension without any exaggerated crisscrossing. Tension about 1/2 the drag pressure expected may be appropriate when spooling heavy- duty line. Exaggerated crisscrossing creates open space in the spool which may invite the subsequent layer to dig in. In any case, crisscrossing is a one-time-event because you would not attempt exaggerated crisscrossing when fighting a fish because to do so would give the fish the opportunity to shake the hook. Actually, even if you think you are laying the line tightly under tension in a close side-by-side fashion, it is likely that you can’t see that you are crossing several wraps every turn because the line is so small diameter.

Some believe that Spectra® should be spooled on wet. This is not needed, but if it makes you happy, OK. The main concern with wet spooling is that often insufficient tension is applied. Fresh water causes no problems, but I would not use sea water which has about 3.5% salt (about 1/3 pound per gallon). Salt causes spool erosion. You would be saturating the line with salt all the way down to the bottom of the spool to start trouble later.

Line Winding Machines: A wise option: Well worth it.

Most well-equipped tackle shops have a sturdy spooling apparatus to spool Spectra® onto reels properly, that is, with sufficient tension. A few shops may need your input in that regard. Because large reels hold a lot of Spectra®, versus mono, it takes more shop-time, so don’t be surprised if you are charged extra for spooling; it’s well worth it if the job is properly done.

Spooling line on too fast is not good practice because it makes it difficult to do a good job of laying the line on uniformly, side-by-side. Also, with very fast spooling, a lot of heat is generated by any frictional device or your gloved hand used to tension the line. Heat is an enemy of plastics. We suggest that you use low gear when spooling 2-speed reels, especially those to be filled with 80lb test or greater.

Some of the newer advanced design linewinders, like the Triangle Model HD140, have a mechanical brake assembly which includes fine adjustment of drag disc against a heavy flywheel. The drag setting is consistent and smooth with very fine adjustment possible, even while spooling.

Be especially careful winding line next to the sides of the reel spool so that line does not pile up here or leave a gap. If the line piles up vertically against the spool wall, it could fall over and bury the line and cause problems later, especially when line peels off with a running fish. If you leave a gap, subsequent spooling might allow the line to slip in deep and bind later.

Respect the dangers of working with any rotating equipment. Anticipate possible mishaps.

With five colors of Spectra® now available, tackle shops should become aware of the desirability of cleaning spooling apparatus when changing from one color to another. A little of the color from one spool may transfer to the equipment and then to the next line being spooled. While this causes no harm, it could detract from the appearance. The equipment can be cleaned quickly with a small amount of solvent, being especially safety conscious with flammable ones. The inexpensive white gloves, recommended to protect your hands while spooling, should be changed depending on the color being spooled.

Measurement of Line: The right answers.

Line counters which rely on a positive gear drive give very accurate measurements. However some line counters rely on a gravity/friction connected counter which rides atop the service spool, not positively connected to the line being measured. This type counter may tend to slip on the Spectra® so that more line is put on to the reel than the counter would indicate…not good news for a shop owner selling line by the yard. Also, this could lead to the erroneous conclusion that there was less than labeled number of yards on the purchased spool. Slower speed reduces the possible error.

Control Check: Tight enough?

When you finish spooling line onto your reel, it should feel solid, not soft and spongy; if it is hard, be confident that you should have no problems. If it is soft, this indicates that you did not spool the line on under enough tension to prevent the line from digging in later.

The large service spools are not generally spooled on very tightly as they come off the braiding machines. To do so might affect the nature and quality of the braid. Therefore, care should be taken when loading a reel, so that you apply some of the tension between the service spool and the reel-not just to the service spool alone; this technique reduces the chance that line will dig into the service spool. Tension on the spool may be applied by pressing a gloved hand onto the line on the spool rather than onto the plastic spool side plate. The knitted gloves serve another useful purpose by removing any excess color-coating as the line is guided onto the reel.

We emphasize spooling because carelessly spooled line is the major cause of line-breakage when the line gets wedged down in the spool. Obviously you can put the line on tighter when first filling the reel than during normal fishing conditions. It is this solid base that is most important.

Digging Down into Spectra®: What causes it to happen?

Many are puzzled why Spectra® seems to dig into the spool more often than mono. One factor may be the effect of drag forces on small Spectra® versus that on larger mono of the same breaking strength. Recall that pressure = force/area. The projected area of the Spectra® is much less than that of the mono, so you can see that the pressure, in pounds per square inch on the Spectra® is many times that on the mono at equal drag (force) settings. To resist this higher pressure, it is not surprising that we need a more tightly packed spool of Spectra®.

Another factor worth considering is the physical space between adjacent wraps of small diameter line compared to that of adjacent wraps of larger diameter line but the same breaking strength. In order to slip line between two adjacent wraps of line, they must be at least one diameter apart. Since Spectra® is 1/3 the diameter of equivalent mono, this spacing must be very close indeed or else there will be room for it to slip in between and bind. Spacing on the larger line can be larger before problems occur.

There may be more differences, but these are important ones we can do something about.

Line Maintenance: To wash or not to wash.

Some folks have misled a few Spectra® users by telling them that they must remove the line from the reel and wash it frequently, with their equipment of course. The line is so inert that repeated exposure to any water that you would fish in causes no damage to the line and would not create any urgent reasons to wash it. A very few have reported that they wash their line after several years only because they detect an odor. More plausible reasons to take off the line and wash it are to protect the reel spool by moving salt from the line or to check for damaged or frayed line or because you have a lot of time on your hands.

Cleaning detergents, and products such as OxiClean, Clorox, Salt·X, or enzyme detergents do not harm Spectra®. Darkened line is normally caused by tiny diesel smoke particles which are not easily removed anyway.

Spectra® does not promote or contribute to the growth of any bacteria or algae. Proponents of very frequent washing must be remembering the old days when lines were made of biodegradable linen fibers. Washing certainly does no harm but remember that you face all the challenges of spooling the line back onto the reel again afterwards.

Regular Inspection: An ounce of prevention.

If the Spectra® is hollow and spliceable, you may want to remove the top 50 to 100 yards periodically and splice on a new section of line just in case you may have damaged the line by contact with a shark, wahoo, trigger fish, rocks, barnacles, another fisherman’s line, the bottom of the boat, etc. It is the top portion of the spool that is most likely to be compromised and subject to subsequent line breakage which would never occur with virgin line. Spectra® lasts a long time. Unlike mono, Spectra® is not significantly damaged by ultraviolet in sunlight or most chemicals.

Check all of your roller guides, particularly the roller tip. Spectra® is small in diameter; you don’t want extra space between the roller and guide frame to capture, and then fray the line, causing line breakage later on.

If you ever experience a line failure, think first about what could have happened to damage the line long before the present event or just prior to the event. If you ever find a spot in hollow, spliceable line which looks flawed or damaged, simply cut out the damaged section and splice the ends back together using your loop puller. The splice will be good as new. You will not even notice it thereafter.

Any knot in any line, no matter how well the knot is made, is the weakest point in the line and suspect in any failure. That is why we recommend spliced connections when you can.

Kite clips often catch the line and fray it. We strongly suggest that you thread your line through a ceramic ring made for this purpose and then clip the ring to the kite release-clip.

Line Twist: A case of "who done it?"

No line can twist itself, whether it is monofilament, braided Spectra®, round, flat, hollow or solid. Someone or something must twist it. Every line is subject to exactly the same factors which cause twist.

Twist occurs if the line is taken off one end of the service spool as line is spooled onto a reel. To avoid twist, line must be taken off from a spool which is free to rotate. Likewise, if you attached your topshot to the line on your reel and then reel on the topshot without rotating the coil, you will twist the full length of the topshot many times. Some believe that a twisted mono topshot can spook fish.

Twists also occur while fishing a lure without a line swivel, or by a rolling fish or a shark, or a chunk turning in the current.

Every spinning reel, by its very nature, twists the line with every turn of the handle, some six times per turn during retrieve. When cast, line comes off the stationary spool from the end, twisting the line in the opposite direction canceling the twist. However, a problem occurs if you turn the handle when you can not take line freely. In this event, twists in excess of those needed to cancel those of the cast are quickly added. This happens more frequently than most fisherman realize. When you have a big fish on and the drag is too light to take line, constant turning the handle twists the line. You must be able to retrieve line or you will create twists when using a spinning reel. This problem does not exist with revolving spool conventional reels.

Severe line twist can cause problems: Line breakage, tangles, knots and poor lure behavior. Two-time honored methods of removing twists are:

(1) Detach any terminal gear and then trail the line behind a moving boat for a while.

(2) Attach a weight to the end of the line and free spool the weighted line deep.

In either of those two cases, some residual twist can be taken out if you squeeze the wet line between your thumb and index finger as you retrieve slowly. The twist is moved along toward the free end much like the action of a jack screw.

This technique is also useful in those instances when line has been carelessly spooled on during retrieve. Line build-up in one area can bind on the frame. Loosely spooled line invites problems. This technique gives you the opportunity to rewind correctly and be ready for the next big fish.

Saving Money: Hollow, spliceable line advantage.

Splicing hollow braided lines is called for in a number of cases:

(1) When adding more line to a reel; this comes up when a damaged section of line must be replaced or when some line is lost to a cut or break. Splicing on an additional length of line is more economical than replacing the entire spool.

(2) When repairing a bad spot, rather than replace an entire section of damaged line, you can cut out just the short bad spot and splice the lines back together at that point. Since the top 50 yards or so are the most likely to be damaged, some anglers replace it periodically so that they have confidence to land the really big one.

(3) When a tangle with another line appears too difficult or too time consuming: Cut out the tangle carefully and re-join the lines by making a line-to-line splice. This sometimes saves hundreds of yards of line or maybe a fish.

(4) When one breaking strength braided hollow line is to be connected to one of a different strength: the same splicing procedure is used as if they were the same breaking strength.

(5) When you have several lengths of hollow braided line but none are of sufficient length to fill one of your reels: Splicing these pieces together saves money with no sacrifice of strength.

(6) When connecting topshots, instead of using loop-to-loop connections for changing topshots, you don’t need to form any end-loops on either of the two sections, just splice the two hollow ends together. It is quick, strong and almost invisible and, like all these splices, unquestionably 100% strong.

Topshots: Spectra® to monofilament without a knot.

A topshot is usually made up with a few feet of hollow Spectra® with a spliced loop formed in one end and monofilament inserted into the other hollow end and held in place with the aid of a Chinese finger cuff. No knot. The topshot can now be connected to a pre-formed spliced loop in the main Spectra® line by a simple loop-to-loop.

It is a quick connection that can be un-done without destroying either loop. In this way, a new one can be attached from your stock prepared in advance of your trip. It is common for fisherman to have several different test monofilament topshots handy if the conditions change. If you fight a fish which could have damaged the monofilament, a quick replacement of just the topshot, not the entire spool is in order.

Topshots of different lengths of monofilament are appropriate for different applications. For example, if the outfit is to be used for trolling; many select a very long 100-yard topshot. When live-bait fishing, a very short monofilament or fluorocarbon section is recommended, frequently only 25 feet long.

These portable, re-useable topshots are a convenience as well as a time and money saver because you need to change only a small portion of the line.

Strength Measurements: Label strength vs. true line strength vs. knot strength.

For marketing reasons, the labeled breaking strength of premium Spectra® is usually less than the actual "test". A knot can lower measured breaking strength 50%. From time-to-time one hears confusing reports of lower than labeled breaking strength. After testing errors are exposed, amazingly no retractions appear. Any good breaking strength testing method should avoid testing knot strength. If correctly tested, the line should be held by two eccentrics, or some other method without a knot to hold the line while tension is increased at a controlled rate. Even a very good bimini in Spectra® is not 100%. No knot that we know is 100%. A splice in hollow line is nearly 100%. A suitable Spectra® adhesive does strengthen most knots because the adhesive prevents slipping.

If there is a knot employed in the test device, the break usually occurs inches away from any knot, leading some to erroneously conclude that it was the line which broke in the test and not correctly that the knot caused the line to break at a lower than expected value. Careful study would demonstrate that as the knot slipped, the frictional heat weakened the line as it rapidly slipped through the knot to break as much as 6" away. Spectra® melts at a little above 300º F. This high temperature is reached under the tests incorporating a knot.

Another factor which influences line breakage is G-forces. Since the line stretches only 3%, a rapid increase in tension on the line creates huge G-forces to develop due to the acceleration. A stretchy line absorbs much of this shock to reduce the effects of G-forces. It is because of the low stretch in Spectra® that we feel the G-force of a fish jerking on the line. The fish feels it too and very often this sets the hook itself without our added help.

Spectra®: Only the best for Line One.

Spectra® is patented and trade-marked. There are imitators which are similar but not equal. They usually have lower tensile strength and lower abrasion resistance; they can not be labeled Spectra®. Spectra® itself can be furnished in many different diameter fibers to suit the particular application. The smaller the fiber diameter, the stronger it is but the more costly it is. Finer diameter fibers also result in a much smoother hand-feel in the braided product.

Neither Spectra® nor knock-offs can be dyed directly. Colored lines are fabricated from the natural white fibers by adding color to a coating. At Line One, we use a special thin polymer coating. Lower quality lines use a cheaper, thicker wax coating prone to flaking.

More on Safety: Yours and that of others.

As you reel in a fish, which has taken out a lot of line, the tension is generally enough to spool it on tightly enough to prevent future problems, especially if you spooled-on the line tightly to begin with. If you reel in a lot of slack line, you should apply tension by squeezing the wet line between the flat of the index finger and the flat of the thumb. The sides of the fingers are much easier to cut than the fingerprint sides. Some fishermen use a protective self-adhering tape on thumb and index finger; others use a glove.

Line cuts are exacerbated by salt crystals which form on the line as the water evaporates when fished in ocean or brackish waters. The salt crystals act like a powerful abrasive when trapped in the small diameter braided line. New, dry unused line causes very few line cuts. Protect your hands; don’t spoil your trip by getting a nasty cut.

Never grab a fast moving line with ungloved hands. It seems obvious, but often overlooked, that only running line cuts. If a fish is pulling line fast, (as much as 45ft per sec) there should be no reason to expose your fingers. If you are reeling, you control the speed; slow down or stop momentarily if you need to touch the line.

It is not only your own safety that ought to concern you. Crew and fellow fishermen helping you should be reminded not to take chances with unsafe practices. Be especially careful when untangling lines. If you suddenly get bit, someone could get hurt.

Remember that in the excitement of fighting a fish to guide your line away from any chance of coming in contact with a fellow fisherman. Take action quickly and shout out loudly to alert others. This danger is dramatically illustrated when a fast running wahoo cuts through a two inch thick braided nylon anchor rope in a matter of seconds. This has happened with monofilament as well as braided line. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Fishing is Fun: A day on the water does not count as one of your allotted days on earth!

This discussion and these suggestions are meant to help make fishing more fun. The guidelines may seem numerous but once brought to your attention you might make better use of Spectra® and have a better chance to catch more and bigger fish. Using Spectra® is not more difficult or more complicated, just a little different, but it gives you a big edge over straight mono in many cases. We have known some who have not yet tried Spectra® out of some misguided concerns or fears, but we do not know many who have tried it with a little prior guidance who don’t love it and use it now. We hope that this gives you some helpful hints and that you will help others have a happy experience as well.

Jerry Brown Industries
13413 Highway 234
Gold Hill, OR 97525


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