Having the right line on your reel is fundamental to fishing success. These days, braided line has a role in almost every style of fishing by anglers fishing every type of fish.
While there are many brands of modern braided fishing lines on the market featuring different formulations of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene micron-filaments that are supple, thin, and yet many times the tensile strength of steel, there is one distinct difference in how they are braided – hollow or solid.
Braids that have a hollow weave allow for techniques developed decades ago when hollow Dacron lines were prominent on sportfishers targeting big game – splicing loops in the end of the line for loop to loop connections, splicing one section of line to another line, and the creation of wind-on leaders using the “Chinese finger puzzle” method of inserting varying lengths of fluorocarbon or monofilament into the hollow braid.
Solid braid isn’t actually one solid stretch of line. Instead, the strands (bundles of filament) are woven tightly together, leaving no hollow or open space between the weaves. How many strands are used and how closely they are woven together can make a huge difference in the feel of solid braided line. Suffice to say solid makes for the thinnest diameter lines and is perfect for most freshwater applications and also is popular for a vast array of saltwater presentations.
Seaguar’s developers, the same minds that created fluorocarbon line and forever changed the way anglers looked at leaders and mainline, soon figured out that they really only needed to produce two braided line products:
- Smackdown, a solid braid offered in line sizes rated from 10- to 65-pound
- Threadlock, a hollow braid available in 50- to 200-pound test.
Seaguar’s Smackdown is an 8-strand braid that is both super strong and super smooth and quiet. While braided lines can be, and are, made with use 4 or 6 strands, 8-strand makes the perfect solid braid. Smoothness comes from the fact 8 strands are braided together in a weave that is not only tight, but the strands are also braided closely together.
Seaguar’s Threadlock hollow-core line is made with the same precision, yet it does so with 16 strands to achieve even more smoothness of feel and of course, a hollow center. Achieving a tight, thin braid that is still hollow is the challenge that Threadlock has met and overcome.
“Threadlock has a smaller diameter than other similar hollow braids,” says Dale Hightower, Seaguar’s West Coast representative, and veteran long range fisherman. “As a result, Threadlock has a tight weave, so you do have to loosen it up to work with it, especially the 50#. Hollow gives you a lot of opportunities solid doesn’t.”
Yet it is the feel of Threadlock when standing at the rail all day that Hightower appreciates most.
“What I tell folks is, I don’t fish Threadlock because it’s hollow, I like it for the incredible smoothness, strength, and diameter. It ties a beautiful knot.
“The days of wind-ons – putting line inside the braid — those are over as far as I am concerned, it’s all about the confidence to be able to quickly tie a quality knot for the braid to fluorocarbon connection that will hold up to big fish,” he said. “The fact is on my long trips on the Red Rooster III for cow yellowfin tuna, I have total confidence in the John Collins/RP knot to make my Seaguar connection.”
With line tests up to 200-pound, Threadlock is still a perfect choice for those who prefer to build wind-on leaders. It is easy to splice Threadlock, whether to create a loop for a wind-on leader connection or to splice sections of braid together, something Hightower frequently takes advantage of.
“I love to be able to splice inline – it’s a lot easier and more cost-effective than respooling when you get those tangles, cutoffs, run-ins with the bottom of the boat – all those things that can leave with you with not enough line on the spool,” he noted. “You just splice on some new line, the splice is stronger than the line itself and it is seamless.”
Seaguar Threadlock comes in both blue and white and splicing makes it easy to shift colors.
“Sometimes blue is getting bit better than white, so I’ll just add a section of blue,” Hightower tipped. “There are other times when you have just caught a really big fish and the line has been wound onto the reel so tightly that there is room for more. When you are ‘soaking’ a sardine 200 yards out at Guadalupe Island you want all the line on the reel you can get, so I will add some more when I re-rig.
“Threadlock has amazing abrasion resistance, yet contrary to popular opinion, braid does not last forever, all those tiny threads can sustain damage over time,” he added. “I will always strip off the top 200-yards of braid off my reels after every long trip and splice in new, just like I used to refill my reels with new monofilament after a trip. You don’t want to hook that fish of a lifetime and lose it to a bad spot in the line.”
There are definitely fishermen who prefer solid braided line, Dale acknowledged.
“A lot of people say just fish solid. Some insist there are air pockets in the hollow braid,” he said. “The fact is, Threadlock has a 20-percent smaller diameter than other braids in the same class and that makes it fish better.”
Hightower likes the feel of Threadlock so much he opts for the hollow over solid Smackdown when fishing wahoo and yellowtail jigs.
“I use the 80# Threadlock for wahoo and the 50# for surface iron,” he noted.
The overlap of Smackdown and Threadlock in the 50- to 65-pound line class is right where the line between inshore and offshore fishing blurs, and it clearly points out there is a lot of personal preference at play since most braid manufacturers offer both hollow and solid lines options in that range.
Some anglers, like Hightower, prefer the smoothness of a hollow braid, while there are those who lean towards the increased line capacity of a solid braid, while still others say that the solid braids are much easier to cast. Another claim is that a bulkier line offers more abrasion resistance.
The choice is important to all involved, whether targeting yellowfin tuna with poppers or live baits near Gulf oil rigs or throwing metal jigs at foaming bluefin.
There really isn’t much difference as far as strength and diameter between Seaguar’s Threadlock and Smackdown braids in that range, in fact, none at all in the 50-pound class. The next step up, Smackdown solid is rated at 65-pound test and Threadlock hollow has a 60-pound rating, while both have an identical .016 diameter.
What it all comes down to is feel and what works best for the person doing the casting. If the color is significant to you, Threadlock, as noted, comes in both blue and white, while Smackdown is available in stealth gray.
When it comes to 30-pound and down, it doesn’t matter what you fish for, there are only solid braids on the market. One manufacturer managed to make a 40-pound version, but it was almost impossible to splice, etc.
Anglers do have an incredible number of brands and models to choose from in the crowded competition for braids rated at 30-pound test or below. As noted at the beginning of this article, Seaguar has opted to focus on a single outstanding brand, the 8-strand Smackdown.
And Seaguar also chose to keep the color choice simple and to the point: Stealth Gray or Flash Green. It’s that basic: you either don’t want the fish to see the line or it is more important that you see it.
You can always tie on a Seaguar fluorocarbon leader and get the best of both worlds. That’s another story.