Brad Harvey: Catching up on questions, answers

June 2, 2013 

This column tends to generate a lot of emails. Although I try to answer them all, admittedly, I don’t do as good a job as I should of incorporating them into my weekly articles.

So this week, I’ll do as I’ve done in the past and toss out answers to a couple of popular queries I’ve received over the last year.

“What’s better — braided line or monofilament?”

The answer to that is both.

Despite all of the marketing hype that has surrounded the braided lines for the past 15 years, the old stand-by mono is still a great choice for most fishing situations. It’s fairly inexpensive in comparison, offers good knot strength, casts well and features a bit of stretch, which can be a plus.

On the down side, mono lines degrade over time due to heavy usage and exposure to ultraviolet light, which is impossible to escape unless you’re only fishing at night. The stretch I mentioned earlier also lessens your hook setting power to a degree, but that’s not as big an issue for the recreational angler as the marketers pushing the braids would have you believe.

Braided lines excel in more specific situations. Yes, it’s more expensive than monofilament but also outperforms it in several ways, such as when bottom fishing in deeper water. Because it has no stretch at all, braids offer a near instant hook set on those deep down fish,. Plus, the sensitivity is so great you’ll almost always feel even the slightest nibble.

Since its strength to diameter ratio is so much greater than monofilaments — a 40- or 50-pound test braid will have the same diameter as about a 12-pound test mono — fishermen can pack more line on the spool when staying with the same breaking strength they’re used to fishing. Even when jumping up a line class or two in breaking strength they’ll still increase the line capacity substantially.

The biggest con that is heard against braided lines comes from those fishing with bait casters. Backlashes can be a major problem.

With braids, the dreaded “bird nest” can be so hard to get out that many just give up altogether and opt to re-spool, a rather expensive option. The problem here lies in the braid’s tiny diameter and tendency to bury itself on the spool under other strands of the material.

Even when not caused by a backlash, they’ll sometimes bury themselves in this manner just when setting the hook and you’ll likely end up with a mess on the very next cast.

The last thing to consider before opting for braid is where you’ll be fishing. Are there lots of snags and obstructions under the surface? If so you’ll want to keep in mind that trying to break a braided line is about like trying to snap a steel bar with your bare hands. It’s extremely tough material and lesser quality equipment will likely let go before the line does.

“My son/daughter wants to learn to shoot a bow. Do you have suggestions on where to start?”

Learning to shoot a bow properly from the start will go a long way toward determining whether they’ll stick with it. If they’re having fun, they’ll keep at it. If they can’t hit the broad side of a barn, they likely won’t.

Having fun also has a lot to do with how quickly they’re finding success, since kids aren’t usually overloaded with patience, and the first hindrance to it is probably encountered when using bad equipment.

Toys are meant for playing with and in no way provide them with the proper tool for learning this sport, which can offer them a lifetime of enjoyment.

Take your child to the nearest archery pro shop and have a talk with the folks there. They’ll help to determine the proper fit for your budding archer and offer suggestions on what equipment will suit them best.

Since these are not toys, don’t expect to pay a toy’s price. Whether you are looking at a youth model bow or something like the PSE Dream Season DNA I’m shooting, it’s all serious equipment.

But you don’t want to spend your money on something your child will quickly outgrow. My best recommendation would be to take a look at PSE’s Mini Burner or Chaos models.

Both of these are high-performance bows that are also highly adjustable so your child can grow with it and not out of it. Your dealer can help determine which of these models best suits your situation.

In a “Ready to Shoot” package, which comes equipped with everything they’ll need except a release and arrows, the Mini Burner retails for $279.99 while the Chaos AD carries an MSRP of $379.99. These bows in bare form, without all of the accessories, run $199.99 and $299.99, respectively, but you’ll spend more than the “Ready to Shoot” price if purchasing every piece individually.

Once your child is equipped with a bow, you’ll want to get them started off on the right foot. Many shops offer lessons, but in the very least, find someone who is a good archer willing to work with them. By incorporating this training with the right equipment, you’ll be amazed to see how quickly they will pick it up and be shooting bull’s eyes in the back yard.

Have questions of your own? Drop me an email and I’ll do my best to cover it in a future piece here.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover.

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