By Steve Chaconas
Would you consider using an 8-pound test or even a 6-pound test line in your favorite fishing hole?
Most anglers cringe at the thought of using light line, but today’s lines are stronger, more abrasion resistant, have a thinner diameter, and produce more bites.
Former California angler Ranger-Yamaha pro Ish Monroe fishes on the Major League Fishing tour. He attributes his pro standing and over $2 million in tournament winnings to his confidence in using light line for all of his plastics techniques.
Monroe lists many reasons to fish with smaller diameter light line, “Fishing out west has forced me to be versatile. Having to fish lakes with gin clear water and the stained water in the Delta gave me the ability and confidence to use light line. Sometimes fish won’t bite heavy line.”
Baits have more action and lighter baits can be cast further. Fish can’t see line and they hold onto baits longer because they can’t feel the line.
Monroe says lighter line also allows him to feel bites better. Light line sinks faster too, saving time and allowing for more casts.
Line technology has enhanced Monroe’s confidence. Characteristics of fluorocarbon line—low stretch, invisibility in water, and fast sinking—fits into his light line strategy.
All of these factors allow him to fish deeper and farther. He goes as light as Maxima 5 pound test fluorocarbon and 10-pound with 2-pound diameter Maxima braid.
Reels with smooth drags are essential and Monroe relies on Diawa Tatula spinning reels.
Most anglers would think he throws all of the light stuff on spinning tackle. Not so, Monroe fishes with Team Diawa Tatula 100 baitcasting reels, even with 6-8 pound test.
For Texas rigs, he pegs 1/4 ounce River2Sea Tungsten weights that are smaller than lead, cast further with less wind resistance, and give a better feel when contacting cover.
When sight pitching around and in heavy cover where he does not want separation, he pegs his weights for better hook sets. No toothpicks for Monroe, he feels it crimps light line. Instead, he uses rubber Paycheck Baits Punch Stops.
For split shot rigs, he uses a Diawa Tatula Cody Meyer 7’2” rod that enables longer casts and more control over the fish, spooled with Maxima fluorocarbon line. “I also think you break off fewer fish because of flexibility in the rod,” he says.
Monroe’s favorite bait is the Missile Baits Baby D Stroyer on a size 1 Roboworm Rebarb straight shank hook with a 1/4 ounce Mojo weight fixed with a Punch Stop rubber peg.
He fishes this rig from one foot to 40 feet. Ninety-percent of the time he sticks to natural colors: watermelon, green pumpkin, shad in clear water.
Dragging the split shot like a Carolina rig, using a slow retrieve, he stops when feeling something, then hops it over the cover and lets it drop. “This is where the fish are, and I want my bait to stay close to the fish. Other guys might work the bait too fast and miss the fish,” explains Monroe.
Monroe has adapted the light line drop shot for stained water when he locates fish and especially when fish are pressured.
He stresses that drop shots are not search baits.
While he would still prefer to punch a Texas rig through flopped-over milfoil, he pitches drop shots to these spots for fish suspended under canopies.
Fish suspended under a dock present another target for drop shots. Working the bait with the rod in the 2-3 o’clock position, Monroe reels to load the rod to get to the backbone of the rod into the hookset. He adds that if you feel a “tick,” reel and shake until the fish loads the rod.
For those using 15-20 pound test, making the switch to lighter line will take a lot of getting used to, but Monroe says the rewards of more fish will be well worth the learning curve.
Start with spinning tackle before you make the switch, and once you get used to the lighter line, you might never go back to the heavy stuff.