Don’t cut corners with equipment
Marlin fishing is not for the faint of heart or weak of wallet. Nobody ever considered big-game fishing a poor man’s sport, but even owners of fat wallets hate to throw money away. Cutting corners on low-quality equipment represents no savings at all if tackle failure ends up costing the fish of a lifetime. By using Dacron backing on reels, however, anglers can realize substantial savings on the cost of line while reaping benefits that monofilament can’t deliver.
Yard for yard, Dacron often costs less than mono of the same strength, but it’s even more cost-effective because it can stay on the spool season after season. A best-of-both-worlds solution calls for nearly filling a reel with Dacron line, then finishing with a top shot of monofilament that could measure 100-200 yards or so. A mono top shot acts as insurance against Dacron’s notoriously poor abrasion resistance.
Dacron is not at all forgiving under pressure when it comes to chafing. If you have heavy drag on a tight line, Dacron can break in a heartbeat if it touches something.
Stretch a length of Dacron tightly between your hands and ask someone to barely touch a knife to the line. Don’t slice, don’t apply pressure – just put the knife in contact with the Dacron. It parts instantly. Monofilament will not do this because of superior abrasion resistance.
Anglers must keep an eye out to avoid floating debris or other obstacles, including other fish that could come in contact with Dacron line during a fight. Tying Dacron directly to the swivel could lead to problems when a fish gets close and stays directly under the boat.
Under that kind of tension, Dacron could break just by touching the side of the boat. But chafing is less of a concern when you use a 100-yard mono top shot as a shock absorber.
At the end of the day, you should check every bit of line that has been off the reel so that you can start the next trip with good, trustworthy line. Running monofilament quickly through one’s fingers reveals tangible trouble spots, such as nicks and abrasions, that result when line takes a beating from trolling, hookups and fighting fish. You don’t have to see weak areas to detect them. Dacron, on the other hand, proves very difficult to check for integrity.
Take great care should Dacron rub against another line or object in the water, although this rarely happens because the top shot takes the brunt of the abuse. If you know your Dacron rubbed something, you’re better off replacing it or at least cutting back to remove that section. Even if just a few of its tiny threads have been severed, the line becomes drastically weaker. Your fingers aren’t sensitive enough to check Dacron for damage, and visual inspection is usually futile. The only way to check would be with a magnifying glass and a load of patience.
Problems can arise when changing out line on a reel. With mono, it’s a simple matter of completely stripping the reel and re-spooling until it’s full. It may not be that simple if you’re the guy removing line and cranking on hundreds of yards of fresh mono.
Take the time and effort to put Dacron backing on a reel evenly and under pressure. A loose bed of backing will come back to haunt you by digging into itself on the spool at the worst possible moment, as a big fish peels off line at a fast pace.
Replacing a top shot requires pulling off a much shorter length of mono and Dacron before winding on new line. And if that splice is not perfectly executed, you won’t find out until a fish swims away with your entire top shot in tow. Whip-finish the leading edge of a mono-Dacron splice to prevent the Dacron from unraveling or hanging up on rod guides.