JDM Spinning Line

JDM Spinning Line? Really? Yes, absolutely! If you're getting a top quality Japanese reel and an exquisitely designed Japanese rod, why use just any old line?

The line discussions on various internet forums are interesting. It seems the bass anglers mostly use braid. They are sold on the casting distance gained from the small diameter, the sensitivity gained from the lack of stretch, and the ability of the braid to cut through weeds. They talk of 20, 30, even 50 pound braid. For really big bass in really thick cover I suppose 30 lb braid has its place.

On the panfish forums you see lots of comments along the lines of "it's cheap and it works." For fish that are not known to be line shy and don't generally get over a pound (maybe two for crappies) that makes sense as well.

And the trout guys? Again, the forums are almost all fly fishing forums! The few comments you can find about spinning line tend towards buying 2 lb line because trout are line shy or buying massive spools of 4 lb mono because that way it's cheaper to change line frequently (which guys have to do because their spinners cause line twist).

From time to time you also run across a statement that a particular brand of 2 lb test line is really strong compared to the others. That pretty much means it isn't 2 lb test, doesn't it? I once questioned one of those comments and was told "it's 2 lb test diameter" so it's OK to call it 2 lb test.

The only problem is that it isn't 2 lb test diameter - at least not the diameter of Japanese 2 lb spinning line. It's actually between the diameter of 4 and 5lb Japanese line. No wonder it seems strong, but is it as strong as the Japanese line? Who knows? You can't believe what it says on the package about the strength. Can you believe what it says about the diameter? The point is that you don't know what you're getting. I was also told it was "industry standard." If the industry standard is misleading labeling, I think I'll shop elsewhere.

But that does raise another issue. Japanese 2 lb test line actually is going to break at 2 lb, not what you're used to with domestic line! The line is wonderfully thin and I would absolutely use it if I was fishing the Daiwa .8g Vega spoons. However, for sinking minnow plugs, which are going to run fifteen or twenty bucks a pop, I'd choose a heavier line (and I'd check for abrasion from rocks and trout teeth fairly frequently).

No one mentions premium lines other than a few of the bass guys.

Personally, I think that is penny wise and pound foolish. If you are enough of an enthusiast to buy top quality equipment, gear you cannot find at the local WalMart, why try to save a few pennies on the line - which after all is the only connection you have between you and the fish? Thinner line casts better, but you do want it to be strong enough for the fish you intend to catch. If you want your line to be both thin and strong, I would look to JDM spinning line.

I find it interesting that Sunline, one of the largest and best known line companies in Japan, has changed the lineup of their Troutist series of lines, which are designed specifically for trout fishing. They used to offer braid but now their trout lines are all nylon except for one intended for use in lakes. Most of their lines are colored. What do they know that we don't know?

For years, I have been a dedicated line watcher. I never fish with clear lines. There have been many, many times when I have detected a strike by seeing the line move even when I didn't feel a thing. Face it, if you are reeling in a lure, and a fish comes up from behind and takes it but doesn't stop or turn sharply to the side, you might not feel even a tap. Often you can see the line move, though. That is even more common when fishing slowly with small plastics. Seeing the line move sideways, without feeling a thing, happens a lot more than you would think if you've only fished with a line you can't see! If you only fish by feel, you will miss fish.

I'm not sure that is the primary reason for the hi-vis Japanese lines, though. Perhaps the major reason for hi-vis line is so you can see the flight of the lure and stop your cast when the lure is over your target. You definitely want to stop the lure's flight if it has overshot your target and is heading for a streamside bush. Save one sinking minnow lure and you have saved enough to pay for the JDM line!

The lines that Sunline has designed for fishing in the Areas (stocked pay-to-fish lakes) are either clear or smoke gray, or have alternating lengths of hi-vis and lo-vis line. On the one hand, the Areas get very heavy fishing pressure. On the other hand, though, when casting into a lake, you rarely have to worry much pinpoint casting, and almost never about the trees and bushes on the far shore!

Sunline Troutist Wild 3lb line, Tenryu RZI50UL-4 rod, Shimano Cardiff CI4+ C2000HGS reel, Daiwa Crusader 2.5g spoon, wild cutthroat trout.Sunline Troutist Wild 3lb line, Tenryu RZI50UL-4 rod, Shimano Cardiff CI4+ C2000HGS reel, Daiwa Crusader 2.5g spoon, wild cutthroat trout.

I make it a practice to add some clear tippet to the end of the hi-vis line, just in case the bright line might alert the fish. I'm not convinced that it does, or at least, not convinced that it does all the time or in all conditions. Once while fishing a small stream in Montana I ran out of tippet so I tied the bright green Sunline Troutist Wild spinning line directly to my spoon. I kept catching fish at about the same rate, so the wild cutthroats in that particular stream on that particular day clearly were not scared by the line.

I still add clear tippet, though - a length about equal to the distance from the rod tip to just in front of the reel - just in case. Maybe it's like wearing camo clothes. It might not help but it sure can't hurt!

Sunline Small Game PE-HGSunline Small Game PE-HG

Although Sunline no longer sells braid for trout fishing, they sell a truly excellent braid for ultralight saltwater fishing. It seems we don't do much ultralight saltwater fishing in the US, but it is a big thing in Japan. Their Small Game PE-HG line works beautifully as a BFS line for trout fishing!

When I started using a baitcaster in trout streams I used the same nylon mono that I used with my spinning reels. After experimenting with a number of different lines, I came to believe a light braid is really the best choice. Nylon or fluorocarbon lines are perverse. It seems they want to jump off the spool, and will blow up into a bird's nest given half a chance. Given the same half a chance, braid seems to want to stay on the spool. I still get bird's nests (I'm still basically a beginner) but fewer and less extreme. I am sold on braid. It is considerably more expensive than nylon, but to me it is clearly worth it.

Varivas Bait Finess PEVarivas Bait Finess PE

Varivas Bait Finess PE is targetted at baitcasters and I have to say it is an excellent line. Personally, I have a slight preference for the Sunline because I can see it better against a background of light green foliage, but other than that, I like the Varivas line a lot! The line I have in stock is thinner than the Sunline braid I stock, and works very well indeed with light lures.

Baitcaster for micros?Baitcaster for micros?

Granted, most people do not use a baitcaster when fishing for micros, but if you want to use light lures, using a thin braid like the Varivas Bait Finess PE works very nicely.

Ester line for fishing light jigsEster line for fishing light jigs

I have not used ester line very much, mostly because the way I normally fish doesn't call for it. Ester line is dense enough that it will sink and it has no stretch. Thus, it is very good for fishing light jigs in deeper water. Crappie and bream fishermen love it for those characteristics, but it is a love-hate relationship. Ester line really wants to jump off the spool (so don't even think of putting it on a baitcaster -  trust me).

With a spinning rod, that is a problem with a very easy solution. As soon as your jig hits the water flip the bail or put your hand or finger on the spool. AS SOON AS! That will prevent the biggest problem people have with ester line. A second issue that some have raised is related to the lack of stretch. Some people report unexpected line breakage. I think this is mostly with stiffer ajing rods, and almost certainly can be cured by dailing back on the strength of the hook set. When I used ester line in Maine, catching 2 lb+ smallies, I never once had the line break.

If you want a sensitive line that sinks, you want ester. Just remember to flip the bail or grab the spool, and don't try to cross their eyes with the hook set.

Shop for JDM spinning lines here.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.