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love the fact they no longer have to worry about negative charges coming off their line repelling fish with braid. Some say they change their line far less often and can get several more seasons out of braid. I equally heard those loud and clear advocates for steel tell me they prefer the more consistent breaking strength of steel, they don’t have to worry about line nicks and some have used the steel lines ability to produce positive charge to their advantage. A few operators also told me they don’t like the fact that braid can jump off their down rigger as the cannon ball skips or lands on the bottom. I personally saw the loss of 260’ of new braid line, a 20lb cannon ball and a release clip due to a large loop that was created when the cannon ball hit the bottom and a loop was created by the loose braid on the drum subsequently wrapping around the base of the down rigger. It quickly broke as the line tightened. I clearly heard some say that steel was much easier to handle with wet hands and less likely to cut. My personal thoughts and experiences over the years are that I feel steel provides a more consistent breaking strength to braid. I have never gone through so many cannon balls as I did when I was using braid and I found it also much harder on the hands. The initial expense was high and I found I was adding more line often. I also found a wide variety in the quality of lines from different manufacturers. I found that debris such as wood and plastics in the water were leaving my line with very small nicks that were often unnoticed until too late. I found I had to inspect the line too often to feel for nicks as compared to visually seeing any anomalies on cable. It is startling and expensive to watch your entire set up fall to the depths with no indication of what just happened. If I hit a sunken trap or run it on a reef, I can accept it was operator error but all too many times I lost a 15lb cannon ball, terminal gear and sometimes 2 release clips to who knows what! When I switched from cable to braid I neglected to inspect my pulleys for grooves or rough spots left in the wheels from the cable and I lost several cannon balls over the next few weeks. Many operators have switched out their plastic pulleys for after market aluminum ones to avoid losing gear due to cuts from pre-existing damage on the pulley. Any knots used in tying on extra line, terminal gear and gangion lines became the weak point of the line and I often lost gear from breaks at those points over the months. If I did find myself caught on a reef, or a trap, or submerged cable, the braid would often break immediately. Alternatively, I have pulled up many sunken crab or prawn trap with my cable line to have all my gear still intact. A taut braid line will break at even the suggestion of touching a sharp knife, rusty gaff or pliers to the line, where steel cable would not break. I also found a huge difference of quality and durability between 175b and 250lb line for line nicks and breaks. I was told that 150lb braided line was more than enough to hold my 15lb cannon balls, but I found out quickly that it was more susceptible to small line nicks. These became breaks a lot more quickly with the thinner diameter line. I did find a clear difference in preference of lines to fishing on the West Coast of Vancouver Island vs. Georgia Strait. I found the west coast to be far less hard on braid and my pocket book because of less debris and sunken hazards in the water when compared to the minefields we see in the inside. Fraser River debris and the massive amount of sunken traps and cables close to Vancouver had a big impact on my line breakage. I much prefer to use cable in the inside and can tolerate braid on the outside for this fact. I did like the fact I could add additional pieces of braided line to top-up or replace what I lost, but the connection knot then became the weak point. I agree the more true line depths were a bonus and I did not have to worry about repelling fish with a negative charge on my line. Ultimately the steel cable slightly out performs for my Vancouver based charters but we do use braid on our Ucluelet charter boats. Recommendations for those that have switched from cable to braid or are thinking about it are advised to replace your pulleys with new ones to ensure smooth line friction. Make sure you load your braid quite snuggly, as it will dig into itself on the rigger. Also, be cautious when fishing on or near the bottom and letting your cannon ball hit the bottom at a fast rate as a loop may occur and wrap around the base or brake handle of your rigger causing a lot of grief once the line tightens. Choose 250lb. line vs. 150lb line for the added abrasion resistance. Add an anode or two to the terminal gear attaching your cannon ball to your line to add an attracting charge to your gear. Either braided or steel cable is a great option so don’t be afraid to try both or perhaps experiment with one type on each side of the boat like I did, to see which one you prefer. Regardless of your choice, know that both methods are effective and it is perhaps just wise to fish one type with confidence. 30
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