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  1. #1

    Default Using the correct line strength

    Hi All,

    So, a long weekend, but I only went out fishing for a couple of hours on Sunday evening.

    Anyway, my first story of the 'one that got away' occurred on that very evening. I was about to give up and go home - having only caught a few baby brown trout and one half decent size sucker - when my indicator disappeared!

    A quick flex of the rod and I felt the obvious wriggle on the end of the line. I immediately knew what I had was big (relative term), but was not prepared in any way for it. I have never actually had a fish on the line that big and it really was a struggle just to hold it (it is a small stream and I dare not let it run too far).

    Anyway, I got it to the surface only to see it was a carp - probably around 18" long (I have no idea of weight). A moment later and the line gave way.

    From what I could see, the line broke near or on the knot connecting the tippet - on the leader side. I do not know what the point of failure was, but I'd like to blame my knot. The leader is 4.8lbs - and the tippet the same. They both came with the fly rod kit.

    I have since bought a heavier strength leader and matching tippet, but what I want to try and discover is how to judge what I should have on my reel?

    I'm certain this is something that plagues many beginners, but maybe an idea of your setups would help me and others out?


  2. #2

    Default Re: Using the correct line strength

    Have you been checking your line through out the day especially after each fish? with trout I usually have to retie after every fish. Knots are just one failure point. The best knot is the one you can tie good so try a few different ones until you find one that suits you. Always check for any frays or nicks in the line. Also check for winds knots(from tailing loops).

    The line that came with your kit probably wasn't the greatest. Try different brands.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Beaumont, Alberta
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Using the correct line strength

    It may have even rubbed on something underwater. Barring that, something else you should do (and you may do it already) is moisten the knot before you pull it tight. This lubricates the line and the knot forms without burning the line.
    Each smallest act of kindness - even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile - reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it's passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border

    Default Re: Using the correct line strength

    As Kerry said moisten the knot, because the heat generated by pulling it tight can weaken the line. Also, not all knots are 100% strength knots. When I make leader to tippet connections I always use a blood knot. I busted a fly off on a snag today. It broke between the blood knot of the test tippet and the fly, about a foot up from the fly. When this happens you know your knots are good.
    Blood Knot
    Also set your drag to about 1/3 of the strength of your test tippet. If it is 6 lb. set it for 2lbs. Breaking a fish off is almost always operator error. Good knots, check your leader often, and properly set drag.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Using the correct line strength

    Some great advice guys, thank you.

    I also think I missed out on a key thing. I spoke to a local guide/fly fishing store, who are experts on the creek which I am hoping to fish this weekend. They were able to give me some good guidance on what typical line strength is suitable for that piece of water.

    Thanks again,

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Re: Using the correct line strength


    Hey--- it's the ones that get away that make the deepest memories.

    Congrats on hooking that beast-- that's a good sign that you're fishing in the right places, your fly is at the right depth and you've got some very edible looking stuff in your fly box.

    As far as judging where the point of failure might be, if you see a "pigtail" of curled line- that's usually a sign of knot failure.

    As far as what line strength to use, usually that refers to the "X" tippet diameter rather than a specific lb test and relates to the size of the fly you're using-- bigger flies like streamers, buggers etc on heavier stronger tippet, and smaller flies on thinner weaker tippet.

    A fly leader is usually tapered with a thicker butt section attached to the fly line and it gradually tapers thinner and thinner along it's length until the end where you attach the tippet. Matching up the X size of the tippet with the size of the fly helps "turnover" or unroll the leader, tippet and fly at the end of the cast so it doesn't end up in a tangled heap at the end of your fly line.

    Frank wrote a great post on this in our FAQ section:

    Handling big fish on light tippets can be a challenge-- if you manage to set the hook without yanking too hard, you might have to let it take some line-- by pulling against the drag of the reel, or by pinching loose fly between your fingers to offer some resistance but letting the line slip between your fingers until it tires out enough that you can coax it into your net. (Practice this before your next trip and tie your tippet to the collar of your neighbor's cat )

  7. #7

    Default Re: Using the correct line strength

    More great info Mark, thanks.

    We have 5 cats at home, so I could attach it to one or more, let an electric mouse go and watch the fun unfold... of course I'm joking - I'd never advocate the harm of electric mice.

    I'm more confident now, after having read some of the posts and replies here, and spoken to some of the local shop owners - in relation to the line anyway. I'm still lacking in confidence on finding the fish in the first place (other than my regular 'go to' spot), but I'm sure that will come in time.

    My biggest worry has been going to a local creek, which is crystal clear water, and not seeing a single fish - yet knowing that it is well stocked and full of big fish. I guess they hide well!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Regina, Saskatchewan

    Default Re: Using the correct line strength

    So far this year, I have lost several "Fish of a lifetime" to what looked like knot failure. My friends suggested that my use of the old improved clinch knot might be the reason. It was news to me that it tested very poorly compared to the "Fish'n Fool Knot" and the "Eugene Bend" which tested #2 and #1 respectively. I'd never even heard of these knots, but apparently these are the bee's knees these days.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Rigby, ID
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Using the correct line strength

    I use the clinch knot and Orvis non-slip mono loop knot (Orvis_Knots) for most of my fishing applications. I gave up on the "improved" clinch knot years ago when I realized there was no advantage of the "improved" extra step, and a huge disadvantage in the amount of tippet wasted by tying the "improved" portion. As long as I moisten the knot when I cinch it up, I have very good success. I also use a double surgeons knot to attach tippet to my leader and rarely have I had that knot fail and it is so much more easy and quick to tie over a blood knot.

    Just my two-cents.


    P.S.: flying, in regards to your having to re-tie knots after every fish would point to a possible problem with knot failure up front. I rarely re-tie, but I do check after 6 or more fish, just to be safe.
    I fish, therefore I am - but I gotta go to work first..."piscari ergo sum"

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