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How To Test Fishing Line For Abrasion Resistance

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September 06, 2011

How To Test Fishing Line For Abrasion Resistance

By John Merwin

by John Merwin

In last week’s post I mentioned that this week I was going to talk about abrasion resistance in fishing lines. The ability of different types and brands of line to withstand being rubbed hard over any rough surface is obviously important. When a hooked fish drags your line across an underwater rock, you are of course hoping--maybe even expecting--that the line won’t break.

Line companies make all sorts of claims as to the abrasion resistance of their respective products. And it’s quite true that some lines are more abrasion resistant than others. The problem comes in the way in which manufacturers measure abrasion resistance, which to my mind bears little relation to actual fishing situations. I think dragging a line under tension between your hands and across a rough-surfaced rock (as shown in the photo) is the best test. But first, let’s look at what the line companies do.

A standardized material testing is a whole science unto itself. Procedural specifications are rigorous because the way in which things are tested has to be precisely repeatable by different labs at different times. This just means comparing apples to apples as the results of different tests are compiled.

The common lab test for the abrasion resistance of fibers--including fishing lines--works like this: A weight is tied to one end of the line. The line then passes over a sandpaper-covered cylinder so the hanging weight keeps the line under tension against the abrasive surface. The other end of the line is attached to a machine that cycles the weighted line back-and-forth repeatedly against the sandpaper. Eventually the line wears through and breaks. More cycles before the break means the line has more abrasion resistance. Fewer cycles before break means less abrasion resistance. And that (somewhat oversimplified here) is how line companies test lines and make their abrasion-resistance claims.

The real fishing world is quite different. Here a hooked fish is going to drag your line across rough rocks along the bottom, or sharp coral rubble in saltwater, or a piling or barnacle-encrusted rock in the surf. That’s why I test abrasion resistance by dragging a line across a rock sideways, instead of rubbing the line back and forth over a rock in one spot.

Trouble is, my test is very imprecise. It works, but I can’t repeat it exactly time after time. My hand pressure varies in ways I can’t easily measure. As a practical test, I like it. As a scientific test, it’s useless.

So what about different lines? In general, when it comes to abrasion resistance I can tell you that harder is better. That is, harder-surfaced, usually stiffer lines are often more abrasion resistant than softer lines. Polyethylene-based superlines are generally soft and not very abrasion resistant. Ditto some monos and fluorocarbons.

Hard nylon monofilaments such as Mason do much better when dragged over rough surfaces. If you find a hard, stiff fluoro, that will be better, too. Those are what I use when I need to add a leader for fishing in boulder-strewn water. (Note here that I’m not talking about sharp-toothed critters like pike or bluefish, in which case I use a wire leader.)

So there you have it. Abrasion resistance, despite seeming simple, is one of the most complicated of all fishing line attributes. My advice? Forget what it says on the line box. Go find a rock and try it yourself.

Comments (5)

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from vtbasser wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

I tend to agree. 20lb fluoro is a lot better than 20ld braid in zebra mussels.

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from Riverrat57 wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

When I was little, sometimes I would try to imagine "forever". It would always bring on a foreboding feeling. Thinking about all the variables that nature can throw at your fishing line, gives me that same kind of feeling.

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from rdorman wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

Mr. Merwin, i use 100lb fluoro as leader for muskie...extremely few cut offs, anyway if you have the right equipment you can make a machine that can consistently rub the line with precise tension

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from santa wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

Mr. Merwin, I think you take a good old school approach to testing line. Back in the early seventies we tested Fiji guides on rods by rubbing mono through them shoe shine style. Ceramic guides would build up heat after a few seconds and eventually melt the mono, but the Fuji guides would let you rub the line on them for hours without melting the mono. I still take a practical approach to testing fishing tackle and like to do it under real fishing conditins, not under sterile lab conditions. Nothing beats having a real fish take a fishing line past its modulus of elasticity.

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from santa wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

I forgot to mention that I use Mason Tiger Braid line a lot. Tiger braid is not as abrasion resistant as some other lines, but I have had good luck with it on my SuperCasters. I have filled my Revos and my Calcutta with Mason mono but I do not care for it because it is a little too stiff for my taste when casting. Yet, it does work well in oyster shells. And of course it just so happens that the specks like to feed over the Fish River oyster reef and I like to catch specks so the Mason does its duty there. (The Fish River oyster reef is in Mobile Bay in south Alabama).

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from santa wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

Mr. Merwin, I think you take a good old school approach to testing line. Back in the early seventies we tested Fiji guides on rods by rubbing mono through them shoe shine style. Ceramic guides would build up heat after a few seconds and eventually melt the mono, but the Fuji guides would let you rub the line on them for hours without melting the mono. I still take a practical approach to testing fishing tackle and like to do it under real fishing conditins, not under sterile lab conditions. Nothing beats having a real fish take a fishing line past its modulus of elasticity.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from vtbasser wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

I tend to agree. 20lb fluoro is a lot better than 20ld braid in zebra mussels.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Riverrat57 wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

When I was little, sometimes I would try to imagine "forever". It would always bring on a foreboding feeling. Thinking about all the variables that nature can throw at your fishing line, gives me that same kind of feeling.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rdorman wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

Mr. Merwin, i use 100lb fluoro as leader for muskie...extremely few cut offs, anyway if you have the right equipment you can make a machine that can consistently rub the line with precise tension

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from santa wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

I forgot to mention that I use Mason Tiger Braid line a lot. Tiger braid is not as abrasion resistant as some other lines, but I have had good luck with it on my SuperCasters. I have filled my Revos and my Calcutta with Mason mono but I do not care for it because it is a little too stiff for my taste when casting. Yet, it does work well in oyster shells. And of course it just so happens that the specks like to feed over the Fish River oyster reef and I like to catch specks so the Mason does its duty there. (The Fish River oyster reef is in Mobile Bay in south Alabama).

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