Caveat emp­tor is per­haps nowhere more true than when it comes to buy­ing fish­ing lines. I found my­self con­sid­er­ing that fact from two pieces of con­tent in this is­sue — our Hol­i­day Gift Guide (no doubt many a spool of braid, mono or fluoro­car­bon will be given as gifts this sea­son) and our Gear Guide on abra­sion re­sis­tance in fish­ing lines.

Of course, most fish­ing tackle is “the best” in one way or some oth­ers. But claims re­gard­ing phys­i­cal prop­er­ties are gen­er­ally ver­i­fi­able, with vary­ing de­grees of ef­fort. Even an as­ser­tion such as “the sharpest hooks” can be checked against at least bla­tant fraud by sim­ply run­ning a hook point along a thumb. Many lines claim to be “the strong­est,” which should re­fer to the great­est ten­sile strength per di­am­e­ter, and line strengths can be checked with a good hand scale. “An ex­tra-fast re­trieve ra­tio” on a reel pack­age can cer­tainly be as­sessed by the con­sumer both in terms of turns of the spool and inches of line re­trieved per crank of the han­dle.

But when it comes to abra­sion re­sis­tance, that’s a dif­fer­ent story.

And, when it comes to abra­sion re­sis­tance, claims abound. Here are a few from line man­u­fac­tur­ers’ mar­ket­ing de­scrip­tions:

“Up to 15x greater abra­sion re­sis­tance” “In­cred­i­ble abra­sion re­sis­tance” “4x more abra­sion re­sis­tant” “Ex­tra tough for ul­tra abra­sion re­sis­tance” And so on and so forth. To read such de­scrip­tions, one might rea­son­ably con­clude that most lines are tougher than steel. Try telling that to the guy who just lost a big red­fish when his line touched an oys­ter shell. It’s a mighty rough world out there for fish­ing lines.

The hard truth is that there is no in­dus­try stan­dard used to quan­tify abra­sion re­sis­tance of fish­ing lines. That re­al­ity might fa­cil­i­tate im­pres­sive claims since no con­sumer can re­ally test them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of lines out there that work hard to give an­glers good abra­sion re­sis­tance, only that it has been and will be mighty hard for Joe An­gler to have any real idea of ac­tual abra­sion re­sis­tance, what­ever the pack­age says. I learned the hard way many years ago how tricky it is to try to quan­tify this as­pect of a fish­ing line. I did an abra­sion test com­par­ing many pop­u­lar lines. True, all brands were sub­jected to the same test, run­ning a sec­tion of line re­peat­edly at a given pres­sure across an abra­sive sur­face un­til the line broke, and us­ing the num­ber of times the arm con­trol­ling the process went up and down to es­ti­mate abra­sion re­sis­tance.

The test was met with some crit­i­cism from the in­dus­try; I tucked my tail ’tween my legs and got some ed­u­ca­tion. There are so many ways one can test lines: wet ver­sus dry, across var­i­ous types of surfaces (flat ver­sus edges; sharp or dull) and so on. And dif­fer­ent lines might hold up much dif­fer­ently ac­cord­ing to how they’re tested.

So I gave up much hope of ever re­ally know­ing how any line will mea­sure up for its abra­sion re­sis­tance. Ex­pe­ri­ence might help, but re­al­is­ti­cally prob­a­bly not much be­yond a gen­eral “feel­ing” that this line or that might be bet­ter. Short of some req­ui­site in­dus­try stan­dard (which we can’t rea­son­ably ex­pect), we buys our lines and takes our chances — and steer way clear of those oys­ter shells.


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