In case you haven’t noticed, there are more line choices on tackle shop shelves than ever before. A few things many modern lines–including mono, braid, and fluoro–have in common is that they have much less memory, are constructed more uniformly, and because of their ingredients and precision manufacturing process, their new-age coatings protect them from damage and provide slickness which helps them last longer than the stuff you bought 20 years ago. Combine that with the precision motion, finite adjustment capabilities, and high-end components of today’s reels, and the likelihood of tangling on the cast drops off a good amount.
Unfortunately, all of that technology can’t spare you from the occasional bird’s nest. It happens to all of us, but there are ways beyond buying fancy line and reels to minimize those unwanted tangles that always seems to happen when the action is hot first thing in the morning or in the last 20 minutes of daylight.
There was a time when I felt tangles were inevitabilities within a given fishing day. At least one was bound to happen. To thwart the frustration, I tried different lines, different reels and even different line conditioners searching for the magic button to eliminate any and all tangles. What I found is that it’s not just one ingredient that makes a difference.
For starters, you have to make sure the line is not too heavy/thick for the spool size you’re using. Many smaller spinning and baitcasting spools are made for 10-pound-test diameter line or less. Heavier line naturally has more memory, so if you wind it tightly on a small spool, it’s likely to retain those tight coils when you cast, and that leads to instant problems. To reduce memory even with line of the proper diameter on a spinning reel, make sure the line spool is spinning the same direction as your reel spool when winding it on, meaning if the reel is taking line on in a clockwise direction, the line should be coming off its spool in a clockwise direction.
I find it best to apply new line by reeling it through a fine-fiber towel that’s been moistened. This will help reduce the friction and heat associated with using your fingers or hands as a guide to make sure the line goes on straight. That friction can also slightly weaken or alter the condition of your line. For the record, it’s always better to under-fill your spool than over-fill. If you are concerned with under-spooling because you foresee losing some line (maybe you’re fishing around cover), then you should think about using a larger spinning reel that holds more line instead of stuffing a small spool to max capacity. Over spooling often causes new line to spill off the spool as soon as the bail is opened the first time, and you all know what happens next. To that end, I never thread my guides with the reel in free-spool or with the bail open. Instead, I adjust my drag to a light setting and pull against it to thread the rod. Until new line has had a chance to conform to the reel, try to avoid ever letting the line be completely tension free.