Top Shot or Not? - Part II

Ruben Villarreal
Top Shot or Not? - Part II

More fish and greater sizes of fish are being caught through advancement of material and manufacturing technologies. More specifically, new technology allows braiding extremely small fibers of gel spun polyethylene into a consistent diameter fishing line that are at times no thicker than a strand of hair. Spectra line has literally changed the way reel manufactures design reels and the way we fish. The aspect of saving space on the reel arbor by as much as 75% has ushered in a new era of downsized reels for blue water fishing.

Now that consumers are growing familiar with Spectra line under trade names such as Spiderwire, Sufix Performance Braid, Jerry Brown, Power Pro and Momoi Diamond Braid and are thinking of giving it a try, the next question is whether to use SOLID or HOLLOW braided line. Solid braid has qualities that set it apart from its hollow counterpart, most noticeable being smaller diameter and lower price tag. Solid braid is more abrasion resistant due to the coating it receives and it is also stiffer. Stiffness is great for jigging and bottom fishing but not so good for casting applications. Hollow braid offers advantages too, especially in the way it can be joined to monofilament. Mono can be inserted into hollow braid via a splicing needle to achieve a nearly seamless transition versus a bulky connecting knot.

Now it's time to connect our braid (solid or hollow) to the spool arbor. Spectra line can be attached to the spool arbor by various means - note that the slick coating on these lines will allow the entire spool of line to slip on the arbor unless preventive measures are used. We can wind on a single layer of mono and then the Spectra; we can apply a wrap of tape to the arbor for the Spectra to bite on; or we can leave a long tag end on the arbor connection knot. I prefer to leave a long tag on the arbor knot and then wrapping the Spectra over it to maximize the reel's line capacity.

Next, as we fill the reel, we need to "pack" the Spectra tightly to prevent it digging into itself. When the working portion of the line digs into the lower layers it can become weakened or might even break.

So we have a good quantity of braid wound into the reel and it is time to apply the top shot. If you have chosen hollow core Spectra you need a hollow splicing needle to take the monofilament up inside the hollow spectra about six feet where the needle is then pushed through the sidewall. The Spectra is smoothed and gently pulled tight so that it grabs the monofilament in the fashion of a Chinese handcuff. A drop of Pink Zap A Gap adhesive is applied at the point of insertion followed by a tight whip finish of 30lb Spectra covered with another drop of Zap A Gap to protect it. I prefer pink over green Zap A Gap as it is more readily absorbed into the whipping. A five foot piece of #5 Malin piano wire folded double and inserted into the hollow core of the braid expands the sidewalls making insertion of the mono easier.

If you have chosen solid Spectra a good joining knot is required to connect the mono top shot. Many joining knots can be used here including Bimini twist to Bimini twist, Albright, Jose Pena, Sabile, figure eight, and my favorite, the Reverse Albright. Your every day Blood Knot or Uni to Uni need not apply as they are prone to failure under heavy drag settings combined with a long fight.

I hope what I have presented in these articles lends itself to your fishing success. Just remember, not all reels are suited to Spectra line and both solid and hollow braids have useful qualities. Braid must be installed properly to eliminate slipping on the spool arbor and you may need to learn some new joining knots. When these are mastered I think you will find Spectra line a great addition to your arsenal of fishing tools. Merry Christmas and I hope to see you on the water.