As we’ve detailed here before on BFA, the rise of braided line in the modern era tournament bass fishing was jump-started by the 1993 Bassmaster Texas Invitational on Sam Rayburn, when veteran pro Randy Dearman utilized Spectra Lynch Line to claim his first B.A.S.S. victory.
Of course, Dacron braided lines had been quite popular throughout the first half of the 20th century, but that started to shift in the late 1930s when DuPont invented nylon, which they shortly thereafter used to make monofilament fishing lines. When they introduced Stren a couple of decades later, it seemed to forecast the end of braids.
But if you think that braided line was altogether dead in bass fishing from 1950-something through 1993, you’d be mistaken. As Terry previously detailed, Gudebrod tried to push their braid as an improvement on anything out there. In another ad, Gudebrod tried to work against the biggest technological innovation of the 70s in order to boost their sales. That decade was marked by the rise of graphite rods. They were heralded as revolutionizing bass fishing but they came at a hefty price tag. While $100 sounds like a bargain for a rod today, 40 years ago it was less of a deal. Accordingly, Gudebrod advertised that you could pocket the majority of your money, keep your current fiberglass rods, and still get the sensitivity that graphite promised simply by spooling up with their braid. It had 60% less stretch than mono, they claimed. The ad did not claim that braid “provides all the outstanding performance features of graphite” – perhaps alluding to the rods’ light weight or mono’s low visibility – but they made clear that it offered almost all of the same benefits at a far lower price. They even tempted anglers with the ultimate combo – graphite and braid – for maximum sensitivity.
The Gudebrod ad may not have had a major impact on the tournament world, but a few years later good friend of Bass Fishing Archives Stan Fagerstrom published an article in the March/April 1981 issue of Bassmaster entitled “Braided Lines for Bassin’.” In it, he outlined the strengths of three specific braids from Cortland, Shakespeare and Gudebrod. Of the latter, he said, “It’s the braided line I have on four of my reels right now and I love the stuff.” More important than any brand descriptions or endorsements, though, Fagerstrom delved into how, why and where braid would excel.
Here are a few key points from his article:
- “[N]one of the monofilaments spool as neatly, lay as relaxed on the reel and handle as nicely on the cast as quality braided line.”
- “Remember, now, that fish was in a little pocket at least 15 yards back in heavy pad cover. I was in clear water at the edge of the pad field….But I also knew I had something special going for me. It was the 17-pound test braided line I had on one of the level-wind reels. The stuff has almost no stretch….I had the largemouth skidding across the top of the pads before he had time to get down and wrap that line six ways from Sunday around everything in sight.”
- “I’ve used it to move fish up and over brush, logs, pads and stumps of a dozen different kinds.”
- “One area where I do not favor the braided line is in fishing a plastic worm or any other lure in deeper water where the object is to get down to the bottom quickly. Braided line has more resistance to sinking than monofilament.”
- “You’ll also want to pay particular attention to your knots. The braided lines will slip now and then.”
- “I discovered that if I took a felt pen in the color of my choice, I could dye the last 10 yards of line in a minute or two.”
Seems like Stan had figured out braid long before the folks that manufacture Spectra ever came around.