Ice fishing line is an essential ice fishing gear and comes with many options, which begs the question, “what type of line should I use and when?” The one commonality that the gel line shares is that they are formulated to perform well in cold and sub-zero temperatures. Minnesota fishing guide Tony Roach discusses when and why he uses braided, monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing lines. He shares some additional tips for reducing line memory (winding) on ice.
TONY’S ICE FISHING LINE (retail links)
The three main options in the Roach line:
Roach is a big fan of braided ice fishing line because of its attributes of no stretch, sensitivity, abrasion resistance and low memory. He uses a braid whenever he can get away with it, which comes down to air temperature and water clarity. Braid gets the head when fished in a warm fish house or on ice, assuming temperatures are 20 degrees or higher. Avoid using braids when fishing outside in very cold weather. Unlike monofilament and fluorocarbon, braid retains some water, which tends to collect on the spool and is at risk of freezing. Ice-optimized varieties like Sufix 832 Advanced Ice Braid minimize water retention by combining a tight weave (photos) and hydrophobic water-repellent protection to resist freezing. However, extreme cold may require the use of a different type of line. Water clarity is another factor to consider. Braid is more visible to fish than monofilament or fluorocarbon. When fishing in clear water, Roach’s solution is to use a fluorocarbon leader to improve stealth. Use a longer leader, the clearer the water.
If you only had one type of ice fishing line, it would probably be monofilament, thanks to its ease of handling and versatility. Roach prefers to use mono when jumping out. It sheds water, is stealthy, very strong and allows you to fish in or on the ice without remounting. Not all monkeys are created equal. Roach prefers to use a low-stretch monofilament as it improves bite detection and transmission at the rod tip, which can be especially important when fishing in deeper water. The bottom line is that a quality overall works well in all situations.
The new age fluorocarbon ice fishing line has dramatically improved handling characteristics compared to the original varieties. Fluorocarbon is almost invisible to fish, has less stretch than mono, sinks (heavier) and transmits bites excellently, all important attributes of ice fishing line. While most of our Wired2fish staff regularly use straight fluorocarbon, Roach primarily uses it as a leader material when fishing a braided main line. There are several advantages to this approach. The cost is one. Braid has excellent longevity as a primary line, while mono and fluorocarbon are usually changed annually (memory and weakening). With a braid holder, you can add a fluorocarbon leader to the length of your choice, whether it’s 2 feet or 20 feet. A simple line-to-line knot (Alberto Knot) allows you to change the size of the fluorocarbon ice fishing line depending on the target species, tactics and techniques. Roach uses a line-to-line or swivel knot when connecting the braid and fluorocarbon. Go with a swivel when using spinning lures; doing so will significantly reduce line twist, which results in bait twisting, which fish do not find attractive.
Line memory is the coiling effect that occurs when fishing line is stored on a reel. Roach recommends using reels with larger spoons to eliminate line memory. It also provides a helpful line stretching tip that clears the line memory on the fly. Eliminating coil improves bite detection and lure response from the angler’s entry.
Check out more ice fishing tips here!