The braided experience

To start, I just may be a member of just a few who see the new era of synthetic braided line as the “devil” when it comes to interfacing with the environment. Until a few years back most fishing lines were branded as monofilament, strung from nylon in a myriad of tints and strengths it satisfied generations of anglers and helped land untold lunkers.

Monofilament had stretch to it, it would “give” when a fish took a bait.

And it was breakable. The rated weight of the line was true – you needed to have the reel drag just right to land the “bigun”. But, if needed, you could tighten the drag and snap break the line where it was attached to the leader swivel.

But then came the clamor for lines that were more sensitive to the fish tap and strike and along came miracle fibers such as Dacron and beyond that were weaved into very flexible but virtually unbreakable fishing line with “real” breaking loads well above their published weight capacity. They could transmit the slightest nudge on a bait to the hands of the angler but you couldn’t break off a snag on a tree limb if you tied them to the back of a Hummer.

And so, came last Tuesday and Cyrus.

Cyrus was from a coastal town in Wales, over here “for a holiday laced with fishing experiences” as he put it. He had fished the Keys the week prior for some sailfish off the Key Largo lights and tarpon under the Seven Mile Bridge which he claimed was “brilliant”. Now he was now working his way up the west coast of the Florida peninsula for more adventures.

As explained in his initial contact, his singular goal here was redfish. Watching cabled Saturday morning TV fishing shows on previous winter mornings in his abode on a cliff overlooking Cardigan Bay, he was enamored with the strength, beauty and tenacity of the red drum.

We went through the regular spiel as to charter particulars and he was in accord with one exception. He wanted to use his own equipment – light action spinning rod and reel loaded with Fireline Braid. When asked about the weight of the line, he sheepishly admitted it was “a bit overdone with 20# test.”

Even with a dissertation about getting snagged and the unforgiving nature of our backcountry’s fauna he persisted and I capitulated.

So off we went on one of those mornings where the tide wasn’t sure what it wanted to do. Forecast to be a high tide mid-morning, it ignored the forecast and just kept rolling in which was a positive for some redfish action back in the far reaches of Upper Addison Bay.

The first action was up close along the shallow edges on the mangrove shoreline and Cyrus was casting his tipped jig in an erratic manner. Upon inquiry he admitted that he was a much better long distance caster. So we moved to a spot where he would need to drop the jig right on the mark from 25 yards away.

His cast arched gracefully far past the intended current eddy and landed with a unceremonious thud and rustle of mangrove branches. Cyrus had miscast to put it mildly – far up into the tree but with his beloved braided fireline and jig not even remotely close to the targeted redfish.

First he tried pulling on the rod lined up directly to the roosting position of the jig. He pulled and pulled – nothing. Then he donned a pair of gloves from his equipment bag and took couple of turns on the line itself and pulled and yanked as hard as possible.

The tree shook; nestled birds scattered; the boat was being pulled into downed branches and Cyrus was turning bright scarlet.

Finally, he speaks pantingly, “We’ll have to cut the line, captain”.

“Can’t cut it at the rod tip, Cyrus – that leaves at least 25 yards of line hanging in the tree which is a potential fatal hazard for the seabirds that will become entangled in it” was my response.

“So, pray tell, what do we do, captain?”

“We move in as close to the snag as we can and try to cut the line or even dislodge the jig. You stand up there on the bow; I’ll pull the anchor and we’ll move in as close as we can.”

It took us awhile as the branches scraped up against the side of the boat and as we moved the boat forward gingerly we were in less than two foot of water. When we were directly under the lodged jig it was too high to reach. Cyrus reached as high as he could and cut the braid about six foot short of the lure.

We carefully backed out of the snare as Cyrus wrapped the cut braid for disposal – but he appeared annoyed. We had burned up over 30 minutes trying to dislodge the errant fishing line.

Asked what was wrong he went into a soliloquy saying that the effort to retrieve snagged fishing line was a bit overdone. “An seabird injured on a hank of fishing line is most likely a rare occurrence, indeed” expressed his feeling and displeasure.

Relations were a bit strained between us during the remainder of the trip as you might guess. But we finished with just a few more bottom snags but he got his redfish, a nice 22” sparkler, just before the tide finally went slack.

Further discussion as we completed the trip as to the difference on the “breakability” of monofilament as compared to braid just drew an indifferent nod from Cyrus. He obviously hadn’t bought the environmental impact issue.

As we pulled into the marina, there were a gaggle of dock hands trying to capture a pelican that was obviously impaired. We watched while they gently lifted the bird onto the floating dock and were removing fishing line and a lure from it’s wing and under carriage. Unfortunately, it happens too often around here.

As they finished and the pelican went waterbound, I handed him his redfish filets and making eye contact as we shook hands Cyrus simply said. “I see”.

Capt. Bill Walsh owns an established Marco Island charter fishing business and holds a current U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments or questions to

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