Fusion confusion

Fused braid fishing lines outperform all others, though there is industry confusion surrounding the definition of fused braids and corresponding claims. The history of fishing line is traced from natural braids to nylon monofilaments to braided synthetics to fused braids.
Fishing line has a varied and complex history. First there were braids, next came monofilament, then braids resurfaced, and now we have fused braids. While the general term being used to describe the latest process of melding the braids is fusion, varying manufacturer claims have led to a lot of confusion.

In fact, it has developed into quite a backlash among linemakers and users. Let’s glance back over the years to help untangle this snarl.

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Pre-1938: Fishing lines a made of braided linen, silk, cotton and flax All are strong but easily broken down by friction. Their main weakness is mildewing and rotting if not totally air-dried after each fishing trip.

1938: Du Pont’s nylon monofilament replaces the silk used in stockings and fishing fines. Also, Mason tackle uses Dow Coming’s Saran, die polymer used in die company’s plastic wrap, to make 10-yard leader coils. Webber introduces Vec, which is softer than Saran but shatters like glass when temperatures drop into the 30s.

1946: There is a big emergence of nylon monofilament lines, with Du Pont supplying the industry and Berkley acting as the major distributor. Later, Berkley makes its own monofilament under the trade name Trilene, while DuPont markets Stren.

1970: Innovations from Du Pont and Berkley including copolymers that produce soften tougher, smaller-diameter, abrasion-resistant monofilaments with less stretch and longer life. Also appearing is a wide range of colors like clear, blue, green, red and yellow.

1993: Braided lines, made Of polyethylene monofilaments originally developed for bulletproof clothing and armaments are fanfared. One Spectra, made by Allied Signal Corporation in Virginia. A second, called Dyneema, is produced in Germany and Japan. Both are made by a gel-spinning process with fibers so fine it takes hundreds braided together to make a fishing fine. A third material, Kevlar, is not polyethylene but another fine monofilament material that Du Pont had been using in bulletproof clothing for years. All are received math mixed angler reports – from terrific to terrible.

Among the benefits are virtually no stretch, giving greater sensitivity in fish feel; much better hook-setting ability; greater strength with small diameters for casting a wide range of lure weights, and yanking lures free of snags; far tougher against abrasion; and better accuracy because of smoother line-flow.

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Included m the negatives are high cost – five or more times that of monofilament; fines too soft to tie, too slick to hold traditional knots; softness and flatness causing backlashes that cut to the core and are impossible to pick out; slick lines popping inside split rings, fouling on hooks and around rod tips; lines too tough to bite in two or cut math ordinary scissors; and mysterious line-popping on power casts, sending lures sailing off into the distance.

1995: Fused braids appear to offset objections to looser braids. “Fusion” became a confusion of claims from the makers, like: “A fusing together of 120 or more microfilaments to form a round, monofilament-like structure” … “Somewhere between a mono and a braided line” … “Our fused line is not braided but is gel fibers spun in opposite directions around a core of the same material”…”A bundle of microfilaments fused together to form a round monofilament-like structure 40 percent stronger than braids”…”Twisted fibers in a polyethylene sheath.”

See what we mean by fusion confusion? My dictionary describes fusion as: “The act or procedure of liquefying or melting together by heat; a union resulting from fusing.” In two of the major brands of fused line, the fibers appear not to be melted together, do adhere to each other, but can be picked apart. The third appears to have no melting but simply a tighter weave over a center core.

Regardless of claims and whether or not heat is used to fuse braids, there is no doubt in my mind that fused lines outperform braids in all features. And slower-to-make braids cost four to five times more than monofilament, whereas fused lines are only about twice the price, and worth it.

Fused fines may not be right for your style of fishing because no two anglers operate exactly the same. Try it and you’d either dislike it instantly and stay with your favorite monofilament … or it will grow on you with use and make you a more skilled angler.

Rigging Up

The Super Tests

My personal preference in lines is reflected in the four rigs I take bass fishing. Two have 30-pound-test fused lines with 8-pound-test diameter, giving strength yet allowing small-lure handling; and two have monofilament in 15-pound-test with 6-pound-test diameter for casting into wind and using ultralight lures.

Pay no attention to wild claims that braided or fused lines break rods and cut guides. Lines don’t break rods. Careless fishermen do; and modem guides are far tougher than any lines.

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