The best braids for trout fishing on ultralight spinning tackle

There is a lot of different braids on the market. But not all braids and created equal, and not all play nicely with spinning reels. In fact, many braids when used on spinning tackle results in wind knots, line twists which will eventually result in tangles, wind knots and even break offs.

In this article, I will discuss which braids work best on ultralight spinning tackle, and the braids which I recommend using when fishing for trout. The braids I recommend here, are not the best choice for your bass bait caster or deep-sea rig. I am discussing ultralight line for ultralight spinning gear.

Braids that are made for spinning tackle.

Most braids are made for bait casters and conventional overhead style of reels. But there are a handful of braid and fused lines made for spinning reels. The braids that play nicest with spinning tackle for the most part is made from fused gelspun fibers.

Commonly known as superlines, fused gelspun lines are more spinner friendly than traditional braid. The outer coating makes the line smooth and stiffer. Making it perform more like a monofilament or nylon, while maintaining near zero stretch and a much thinner diameter. It really is an excellent line for spin fishing and it my preferred type of braid on ultralight spinning reels.

My favorite brand of gelspun braid is Berkley fireline. In over twenty years of spin fishing I have never had a wind knot when using fireline, I cannot say that about any other braid. I have also been entirely free of line twist despite never using a swivel.

If you cannot find fireline, a very capable alternative to Berkely Fireline is Sufix Fuse, it shares many of the same characteristics.

Fireline casts as well as any braid, it glides off the spool like a rocket. New anglers and some old-timers more accustomed to slower casting spinning reels can be caught off guard by line velocity during the cast. Casting does require some finesse, a short smooth flick but with practice, casting braid will become second nature.

What breaking strain braid to use for trout fishing?

When fishing with fireline, there is no need to fish thick braids. So fish as light a breaking strain that you will feel comfortable with. I generally fish with 6lb fireline but have gone as low as 2lb without issue. To the fireline I will tie a leader somewhere between 4 to 8lb depending on water clarity and the size of fish I am targeting.

If you are wondering are leaders really necessary when fishing braid, then the answer is a definite yes. Trout can see braid, and in most water conditions it will cost you fish.

Freshly spooled yellow fireline

The best braids for trout fishing?

Berkley Fireline – My top choice for over 20 years

There are a lot of competing braids on the market, some with even 8 or even 12 strains braided together. So why do I favor an old braid like Fireline over all of the competition?

The main reason is that I cannot remember the last time I got a wind knot when spinning with Berkley Fireline. I don’t think I ever had one. Fireline is simply a very well-behaved line that gives me minimal trouble. For spinning with line weights under about 12lb I do not know of a better braid on the market at any price point. Yes, that includes the expensive 12 stain Japanese braids.

I also love the longevity of fireline, I have fireline on some reels for over 10 years. Yes, I probably should get around to replacing it, but it is still holding up fine. I have had to replace some other brands after the first season.

Fireline has good knot strength, and for a braid it is surprisingly abrasion resistance. I know this is a trout fishing site, but I also use fireline when fishing in the sea. I often fish around barnacle and mussel covered rocks, and fireline even lives up to that abuse. I also landed Rays (underwater bulldozers) heavier than I could lift on 14lb fireline, impressive stuff.

There are a few complaints targeted at Fireline.

Some anglers find Fireline wiry and waxy when new. This is true, it does feel stiff. But, within days it loses that initial wiry feeling and starts to soften turning into a much more manageable line.

One downside with gelspun, and especially fireline is that the advertised break strain is rarely correct. It always massively over tests. I used to say 6lb fireline breaks at 6kg (13lb), over double the rated amount.

The high breaking strain does offer some peace of mind, that it will never break under test. But I personally prefer accurate ratings. When fishing Fireline it is always safe to use a slightly lighter line than usually recommended. So, if you usually spin with 6lb nylon, it will be safe to use 4lb fireline and still have strength to spare.

Others complain that the line bleeds color fast. Again, this is true. Within the first few months much of the original color will bleed out of the line, it will end up on your fingers and coating your rod guides. Not pretty and not really good enough, but losing the color does not impact on the line performance. This is entirely cosmetic. Well fished Fireline, for that reason is much paler in color because all the dye has leached out.

Finally, Fireline does have a tendency to become a little furry with use. But, in my experience, it does not really impact the performance of the line. I am still using 8 year old Fireline on one reel, and despite being furry it still casts and catches fish just fine.

One note I will make, is to never let your Fireline wash around in the waves. This will cause Fireline to become furry and will compromise its strength. This can easily be avoided by actively fishing it, and keeping it away from the bottom where waves are breaking.

Tying knots in fireline is also more difficult. While Fireline might cast like nylon, its knot strength more resembles braid. So, take care when tying knots. When tying a knot in braid complete more rotations to achieve the same knot strength.

Fireline Original vs Fireline Ultra 8

They are both great lines.

I know many people want to compare the original Fireline with the newer ultra 8. The main difference is the price, Ultra 8 is more expensive. So is Ultra 8 worth the higher price? I do believe it is a better line, but not better enough to justify the higher price tag.

Just like the Original Fireline, it is very rare to get wind knots in Ultra 8. That automatically puts it ahead of most braids on the market for ultralight spin fishing.

Ultra 8 also feels a lot smoother through the guides and makes less noise. This is not something that bothers me. Being smoother, probably also means slightly longer casts, but when casting both products side by side I was unable to measure any significant difference in casting distance.

One of the biggest complaints about the Original Fireline, is that it frays and becomes furry quite quickly. While this is mostly a cosmetic change, it does put a lot people off fishing it. Ultra 8 on the other hand, takes significantly longer to start to fray. It looks new longer.

There is one downside, that is knot strength. Ultra 8 smoothness, does make it trickery to tighten knots down securely. Although, I find an extra turn or two is usually enough to compensate for the extra slickness in the line. I can not give a exact number of turns in a knot, because that depends on line diameter, and are soft the leader material is. Just takes a little trail and error.

Fireline vs Daiwa J Braid

I recently got asked, how does fireline compare against the popular and affordable Daiwa J braid. Will, I do like J Braid and I also think it is a great product for the money. I fish J-Braid in heavier breaking strains but for lines under 6lb I still think fireline is king.

The reason I like Fireline, is the absent of wind knots. While Daiwa J Braid is better than most braids, I still get a few wind knots when fishing with it in low breaking strain line. It is simply less forgiving to use than Fireline.

If you can not find fireline, then J-braid is a good runner up choice.

Sufix Fuse

Sufix fuse is a very similar product to fireline. It uses the same technology, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find. I suspect the company is favoring their new Sufix 832 which does not work as well on ultralight tackle.

Why Braid is better than monofilament when spinning for trout.

Many trout fishermen still fish with nylon or other monofilaments. So how do the two lines compare?

  • Superlines are a lot more sensitive. Very easy to feel every vibration, bump or strike.
  • Zero-stretch. Superlines have next to no stretch, so ever jerk or sweep with the rod is immediately reflected in the lure. Be careful, avoid striking too hard, the zero stretch can easily rip a lure away from a trout.
  • Longer casts. The thin diameter makes long casts a breeze, changing to a superline is the easiest way to increase casting distance. For more advice on casting further check my previous written article.
  • Floats. Superlines are very buoyant. This allows for easier line management. Making it easier to avoid snags and underwater obstacles, especially when slack lining. It is surprising how often a buoyant line comes in useful when fishing floating jerkbaits or a float / bobber around obstacles.
  • Longevity. Superlines are very UV stable. If stored in a cool, dark, and dry environment superline can remain on a reel for years without breaking down or losing strength. On some of my less frequently used reels, I am still using line which is 8 years old.

Advantages of monofilament over Superlines

Nylon and fluorocarbons still have advantages.

  • Price. A spool full of nylon is significantly cheaper than braid.
  • Knot strength. Knots in nylon are simply stronger and simpler to tie.
  • No need for scissors or expensive braid cutters. In a pinch, we can bite through nylon with our teeth.
  • No leader. There is no need to tie on a leader, fewer knots and fewer complications. It is also one more cost saving.
  • Easy. Nylon is easy and smooth to cast. Easy for children and beginners to learn with.
  • The risk of line cuts is also very low.
  • Abrasion resistance. While not a big issue, monofilament lines are more abrasion resistant. Line damage is also easier to detect.

Make sure your rod and reel are rated for braids

The very thin diameter of braid can cut groves into cheap chrome and old style stainless steel guides. I have seen one example where braid cut a grove straight through an end guide. Soft line rollers, typically found on older reels or poorly made off brand reels can also develop grooves, but this is less commonly seen on new reels.

Most modern reels now come with hardened metal in the roller so roller damage to new reels should not be a problem. I do feel some spinner reels are better suited to fishing fine braid than others. I personally consider Daiwa has the most braid friendly line lay, but Shimano is a close second. I go into a bit more detail in this post or check my spinning reel buyers guide for reviews.

When buying a rod, I suggest getting one that uses guides made from aluminum oxide, ceramic inserts or titanium. I know some people question the toughness of stainless steel guides but I have never had them grove. Click the link for spinning rod recommendations.

Leave a Comment