Using braided fishing line is banned by some fisheries due to concerns about fish being damaged or killed. There is little evidence to support braid causing this or in fact, being any worse than monofilament or fluorocarbon line use. However, more and more angling clubs and fisheries are banning braid.
There is some fear and falsehood in statements regarding the reported damage to fish which has elevated in recent years. This has led to many fisheries amending their rules and banning Braid completely both as a hooklength and as a mainline.
Read more below to understand this subject in more depth.
What Injuries To Fish Have Been Reported?
Most cases fall into three categories:
Damage to the mouth or lips.
Small damage to scales or the body of the fish
Fish gill areas are cut or gashed so badly that they die.
In the first category, it is claimed that short braid hooklengths can tear into the fish whilst hooking or fighting the fish. And in certain cases, the incorrect braid is used.
In the second category, it has been reported that the mainline wraps around the fish while the angler is landing and fighting the fish and rubs into the body of the fish.
The third category is the most severe, caused again by the line wrapping around the fish while playing and landing the fish, and this scenario is the highest concern.
What Is The Main Causes Of Damage?
For the first category, there are a lot of possibilities and theories from the angling community. First of all, is the damage caused by the line (any line not just Braid) or by the hooks? The subject of hooks damaging fish mouths and lips has been going on for more years than the braid concerns!
The use of Barbed, Micro-barbed, or Barbless is a minefield and again with little scientific evidence on what is best. In addition to the choice of hooks, there is also the fact that some anglers are not careful enough when unhooking the fish once it is caught.
In the second and third scenarios, the main suspect is the angler himself. Braid is not easy to use and requires some skills. The theory is that the angler is being too aggressive with the fish when fighting the fish before landing. Braid has no stretch and is strong, then the angler can “bully” the fish more. Basically, there is less feeling of resistance through the line to the angler.
However, in the duration of the fight, fish will roll up in the line equally when using any type of mainline. Short hooklengths are the cause of this, not the line.
Banned or Not Banned?
Angling clubs specify members’ rules for their specific fishing waters and must be followed. Also, if you fish on a private river or lake, again the rules are specified by the owners. If you are unsure whether mainline braided lines, hook lengths, or all braids are banned on any fishery, I suggest checking on their website or social media before you go. Different fisheries or syndicate waters and even angling clubs have different rules and change yearly.
One important thing to note is that there is no directive from any official regulatory body or guidelines from the Anglers Trust. So if you plan to go to a location not owned by an angling club or a specific lake complex then you are free to use what you wish.
Where Can Braid Be Used Without Any Concerns?
For Sea Fishing, most fish are landed and caught for eating.
Specialist hooklengths and leaders, when the braid is specifically made with softer strands.
For Marker float and spod usage, since there is no contact with fish.
Pike and zander fishing with either dead baits or live baits.
Where Braid Should Not Be Used
Mainline usage from reel to hook.
Using mainline Braid to make hooklengths
Very high-breaking strains
What Is The Difference Between Mainline Braid And Hooklength Braid?
Some braid manufacturers design and sell specialist braided hooklengths, used typically for carp fishing. Each type of braid has different levels of behaviour, for example, buoyancy, sinking, anti-tangle coatings, etc.
Braided line is not solid and hard like monofilament, it is made from soft materials which are woven together in varying degrees of tension. A specialist hooklength braid brushes against stones or a fish’s mouth, and the braid can flatten by following the contours of the object.
As the braid flattens it spreads, slightly increasing its surface area of contact. This increase in the surface area takes place when the braid is in the fish’s mouth and then flexes over the lips. This means that pressure applied by the angler to the fish during the fight is absorbed by the braid spreading the load over its increased surface area.
This happens with all fishing lines, the pressure will rub on a tiny piece of the carp’s flesh. The thinner the line being used the greater the pressure becomes and vice versa.
Try taking a piece of braid and mono and compare the feeling against your finger, the strands flatten and spread themselves out to conform to the shape of your finger. So as far as mouth damage is concerned, specialist braided hooklengths will cause less damage than mono which cannot spread and flatten.
Use Braid For Hooklengths Only
There are many braided lines available made for use as a mainline. These mainlines are of an extremely low diameter and unable to flatten and should not be used as hooklengths! All braided reel lines should be used on the reel and not at the hook.
When you buy a spool of monofilament it is not the 10lb that is written on the spool! It is almost guaranteed to be at least 15lbs. Therefore, to keep braided hooklengths the right ratio, follow the following guidelines.
10lb mono reel line with a 12lb braided hooklength
12lb mono reel line with a 15lb braided hooklength
Therefore, the monofilament line will break at the knot, its weakest point. In a worst-case scenario, the fish if lost will only have a small amount of hooklength line which it will shed quite quickly.
Even though braid is stronger, an angler is not able to apply more pressure than the test curve of the rod he is using. In most cases, the rod test curve would be a maximum of 3lbs. Once it reaches that point the rod will be at its maximum bending point.
What Alternatives Can Be Used Instead Of Mainline Braid?
The banning of braided lines can be frustrating for many anglers. Fortunately, there are alternatives you can use instead of braided lines such as mono and fluoro. Each has its benefits.
Mono is best for beginners and the average angler. It’s a cheaper option, and easy to use. It’s stretchy, so it’s good for absorbing shocks.
Fluoro is a little more expensive than mono and requires more skill, but its longer-lasting and very resistant to damage. When you are fishing in clear water or concerned with fish seeing the line, fluoro is the best option due to its low visibility underwater.
Interesting Fact: In 1952, when Richard Walker caught the famous British record Carp at Redmire Pool he was using a braided line. The 44lb Carp was named Clarissa.
If you fish at any fisheries with braid restrictions then you must follow them, the owner has a right to specify what is allowed on their waters. If you belong to an angling club then the same applies, make sure you follow the rules.
There is no evidence to support the banning of braid, whether mainline or hooklengths. Given the quality of braided hooklengths today, I would recommend using it with a monofilament or fluorocarbon mainline.
I have been fishing with braided hooklengths for years, with no issues at all. The main reasons for the bans in place today are misinformation about the uses of braid and the skills of the anglers themselves.