Putting a Line on Cats

With the understanding of good basic line strength in hand, think about the structure where you want to fish. Many sizeable cats, like Blue Cats and Channel Cats, like deep, fast water, which often means open rocks below, and long lines out. Here, a wimpy line will get nicked on an edge, and snap like a Tostito under pressure, so using braid, or a fluorocarbon monofilament will yield better results than standard nylon. Fluorocarbon’s main setback, is its lower flexibility than the others, and a higher cost, but its durability may make it worth the extra investment.

Wood structure, while less likely to break a line directly, can foul your line, if the current sweeps it into the “woods”, and this may make a really strong braid the best option in these conditions, as it will withstand the most direct pulling force of any of the line types, and won’t be weakened by a lot of hard pulls, in an effort to break off the leader, and retrieve the main line. Abrasion is a big enemy of braid, though, so be sure to examine the line carefully, if it has been wrapped up and pulled hard around some structure.

In situations with heavier sinkers, braid has the best qualities, overall, and, with a spinning rig, makes a great casting line, in spite of its strength. Combined with a baitcasting reel on a stout rod, a braid line is a tough one to beat, for chasing the really heavy fish.

Copolymer is a good cost-alternative to braids or fluorocarbon, and provides some improvement over nylon monofilament’s higher stretch and lower abrasion tolerance. It is generally a bit thicker than monofilament, at the same strength rating.

For leaders, a good nylon monofilament is often the best choice, simply because of its soft feel, light weight and low detectability, which make it perfect for the business end of the rig. Don’t go too light, though (12 lb. test or so, where decent fish are involved), or you’ll lose too many hard-working cats to justify your fishing time.

Picking a good line for catfishing is really just a matter of balancing your gear, your quarry, and your anticipated structure, to narrow down your best options. A bit more investment in a quality line may prove to be a good thing, in the long run, when you hook a real lunker. Experimentation will reveal the best lines for your personal tastes, equipment and fishing locale.

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Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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