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How to Select Braided Line and Level-Wind Reels

Article and photos by John Strenk
There is increasing popularity of the use of braided lines in all types of fishing. Braids can be fished effectively on spinning reels as well as casting reels, and I personally use braid on both.

You will need to consider the type of fishing you are going to do and what type of fish you are chasing when determining which casting reel to purchase for the use of braided lines.

The differences in the reels to consider are that of a disengaging or non-disengaging level wind (the part that your line goes through and that guides your line back and forth across the spool while retrieving).

Reels that have a disengaging level wind, such as most of the small low profile baitcasting reels, the level wind is driven only when you are turning the reel handle. “Reels that have a non-disengaging level wind, such as the Abu round reels, some Calcuttas, The Toro version of the Abu REVO, etc. the level wind is driven by the spools movement, whether the reel is in gear or in free spool.”

Abu Round, John Strenk, The Reel Tech,
The Abu Round reels such as the 6500 C4 shown above have a non disengaging level wind. The level wind is driven by spool movement.
The Shimano Curado shown above has a disengaging level wind. The level wind is driven by turning the handle.

The Shimano Curado shown above has a disengaging level wind. The level wind is driven by turning the handle.

My recommendation to you all is that if you are chasing fish that will take long, hard runs, or repeated drag burning runs while you are fighting them, it is to your benefit and advantage to purchase a reel with a non-disengaging level wind (one that is driven by spool movement). This way, as the fish is peeling off line on a hard run under some drag pressure, the level wind is following/guiding the braided line off of the spool. I have repaired many reels that were broken because of using disengaging level winds for big hard running fish. Braid is a very tough, abrasive, no stretch, unforgiving line. The angles created by the line coming off of the reel through a stationary level wind can destroy the level wind system. On the other hand, fishing for bass or other fish that do not take drag burning runs, a disengaging level wind is fine and works wonderfully.

For spinning reels the above does not come into play. You can fish braided line on all good quality spinning reels without much concern.

John Strenk is the owner of The Reel Tech and specializes in expert fishing reel and fishing rod repair, as well as beautiful hand crafted custom fishing rods. John is an avid outdoorsman; fishing and hunting are his passions. He has experience in long range offshore fishing, tournament fishing, freshwater fishing, and everything in between. His love for the gear we use, and his attention to detail shines through in the work he does. He resides in Medford, OR, in the beautiful Rogue Valley with his lovely wife Jennifer.

Visit John’s website and blog or give him a call at 541-324-0346 if you need reel repair or a new fishing rod.

[Editor's Note: Please share with our readers what you know that will enhance the experience of fishing or water recreation in Northern California or Southern Oregon. What have you learned? Your expertise, no matter where you fish (fresh or saltwater) or what species you target, could be invaluable to other anglers. What not to do is just as important as what to do. Please send your strategies, ideas, tips, techniques and personal experiences to Please include your name and hometown.]

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