Break-offs happen – maybe not to you, or maybe not all the time, but one way or the other, they occur. Might be on the hookset with a worm or jig. Maybe it’s while playing a big fish at boatside and he makes one last surge.
More likely, you hang a bait up in some rocks or stumps on the bottom of the lake and have to snap your line. So what do you do next?
If you’re like most people, you probably reel in, check the last couple feet of line for knicks or abrasions, then retie, perhaps after cutting half a foot of old line off. Well, according to the results of an interesting set of tests I saw this weekend, that might not be such a good idea.
The test was with mono, copolys and fluorocarbon of various brands, about 16 or 17 in all. Here’s the gist – attach the line with hook tie to something solid and pull steadily until it breaks, just like if you were hung, for example. Cut 4″ off the broken end, retie and retest with the same stretch of line. Do this half a dozen times with each line and average the samples. And the results?
Well, they varied as you might expect, but only 2 lines maintained their full strength after this much stretching. The other 15 or so ranged from 56%-90% of their original breaking strength. The average retie strength across all lines was just over 80% of original. In other words, breaking off, either on a fish or a hang-up, put enough stretch into most lines that it actually weakened them significantly, in the worst cases to nearly half their original strength.
While the study didn’t test to see how far down the line this weakness persisted, it would be a good idea that the next time this happens to you, don’t skimp on cutting off the end of the broken line when retying. Instead of inches, think feet. Play it safe, and cut 3′-5′ of line off before retying, or more. Do this even it it doesn’t feel worn or abraded. Failure to do so might just result in another lost fish at the worst possible time.