6 months ago

2018 27th Annual BC Sportsmen's Show

BC's Largest Sportsmen's Show Official Show Guide


BRAID VS. CABLE Downrigger Line Debate BY DAN MACLEOD Pursuit Sport Fishing Charters, Vancouver, B.C. It may sound like a class action law suit or a legal precedent from a law textbook (Braid vs. Cable) but I am referring to the debate of braided line vs. steel cable used on downriggers for fishing applications. To stir the debate and shed some light on the topic for those still wrestling with their decision to load their new Scotty, Penn or Cannon downrigger, I will share my own experiences, those of my colleagues and some suggestions. Steel cable downrigger line has been around for decades aboard both recreational and commercial fishing boats. It was introduced into the commercial trolling fleet with advancements in steel manufacturing post WW II to replace braided rope. It offered superior breaking strength and durability for commercial fishermen. As the price of lead cannon balls rose over the years, steel cable became the norm for use on most commercial trollers. With the boom in popularity of downriggers for recreational anglers during the 80’s it became the only line used for more than two decades and is still the preferred line of choice for many recreational anglers. It was in fact the only line used on our downriggers until the introduction of synthetic microfibre braids in the early 2000’s. Steel cable is readily available in strengths of 150lb and 180lb. and comes in packages of 200’ - 400’ rolls for recreational angling applications. Manufacturers and distributers such as Scotty and Gibbs/Delta have pretty much cornered the market for distribution. PROS: Cost is lower when compared to the new synthetic braids, it’s more abrasion resistance and can provide a fish attracting, electric charge when set up properly. CONS: Steel cable can rust and become brittle with age, it can be hard to handle with your hands if there are frays in the line. It has less breaking strength vs. some braids, can be harder to spool, and is prone to kinks that weaken the line strength. Synthetic braid line was introduced to downrigger fisherman in the early 2000’s as an alternative to steel cable. Braided downrigger line is composed of a weave of multiple, strong, synthetic microfilaments. It offers superior performance in certain applications and even stronger breaking strengths when compared to steel. The smaller profile has less drag in the water, therefore less line bow giving a more true actual depth of your cannon ball compared to the counter on your downrigger. Braid comes in popular strengths of 175lb, 200lb or 250lb and rolls of 200’-400’. A downrig- 28

ger can be loaded with much more line with less weight and bulk as the line is much lighter and thinner than steel. PROS: Strong, less drag in the water, less bow in the line, able to load more line on the downrigger, no electrolysis. CONS: Prone to line nicks, more expensive, tough on the hands, any knots in the line become the weak point. I personally have used both types on my downriggers, both on my personal boats and my charter boat over the years and I have concluded for now, I still prefer steel. I see both used extensively on many of my friends and colleagues boats, up and down the west coast. I asked for opinions from a variety of experience levels, from rookie recreational anglers to several professional charter captains. I had some operators tell me that braid was far superior in all ways to cable and I also heard the opposite statement. There was feedback such as less line bow in the water and a more true, actual vs. indicated line depth on the counters, which was helpful. I was told by one of the largest operators in the province that his loss of cannon balls has gone down by 60% since switching to braid. A few operators have told me they 29

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