If you are a tournament angler, you probably feel like you’re relining your reels all the time. But if you’re a weekend angler, you may not reline your reels much at all. The big question is, how often should you really need to change your line? Let’s take a look at both sides of being a tournament or weekend angler to see what might work best for you.
Before we look at how often to reline, let’s look at the reasons you need to reline your reels. To be clear, I’m mainly discussing monofilament line here. There are three things that force me to respool. The first one is frays or nicks in my line. I simply can’t have those kinds of weak spots. I’m running the risk of line failure if either of these two things exist in my line.
A lot of people don’t check their monofilament line other than the three feet in front of the bait. While that is an important place to start, the entire of your line that is coming back through the water — especially if you are retrieving through any vegetation at all — should be checked.
To do this, make a long cast. As you retrieve your line, allow it to run through two fingers on the hand that holds the rod. If there are any nicks in the line, you will feel them on your fingertips as you retrieve your line. Don’t forget check the last few feet and all the way to your hook. If you feel anything but smoothness, cut the line at that spot, or strip the old line off your reel and reline it.
The second thing that causes me to respool is if my line gets twisted. If you fish long enough with the same line, it will eventually twist up on you. This is easy to detect. Cast your bait out and once it hits the bottom, pull a bunch of line off your reel. If it starts to twist up instead of hanging limp, it’s time for that line to be gone. Fishing with twisted line can make your bait act oddly in your retrieve. You never want your line to dictate what kind of movement is happening to your bait.
The third reason to replace your line is when it’s simply been on the spool too long. This happens to me when I get going in tournaments more than I care to admit. I carry 16 to 20 rods, and each is there for a specific reason. There are times I won’t get to some of those rods for a month or two, even as much as I get out on the water. Line left on a spool too long gets memory loops. When you cast out and your line looks like a slinky, those are memory loops. Those take away from the feel of a bite and simply should not be left on your reel.
Those are the visible reasons that you should look for when it comes to respooling. But there are reasons to reline even if you don’t see the visible reasons. They can be due to the type of line you use most. For me, monofilament line is one that you need to pay a lot of attention to. It can simply wear out because it stretches. If you have caught a lot of fish on that line, you may after some time want to replace it. Monofilament line is not made to last forever. Fluorocarbon line does not have as much stretch as mono does, so you may be able to use that longer, provided you don’t have any abrasions in it.
Braid is a whole other animal. It can last quite a while. What you really need to look at with braid is the line right around the knot. Most often, bass anglers use braid in heavy cover. That can cause wear and tear on that line that is directly tied to your bait. Even though braid is the toughest line on the market, be very aware of checking your knots and make sure that line is not starting to fray around that knot.
No matter how often you get on the water, look for these simple things in your line and you will prevent yourself from the heartache of losing bass due to line failures. You may even catch more fish because you have a better feel with new line on your reels more often. You can never reline too often, but follow these tips and you won’t go broke doing it either.
Greg Bartz is a tournament bass fisherman based in Lakeland. Greg fishes lakes throughout Florida’s Heartland and enjoys RV travel around the Southeast with his wife and tournament partner, Missy. Contact him at Greg.Bartz@SummitHoldings.com.