Kayak Fishing Instructor

Kayak fishing with Juan Veruete

Choosing the right line for river smallmouth bass fishing

Throughout my River Smallmouth Bass Kayak Angling 101 series, I’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible and I’ll be doing the same in this article regarding line selection. I know that there are a variety of line manufacturers and everyone has their favorite brands and types of line for various applications. I’m not here to say that one line manufacturer is better than another or that my way is the best way. The one thing I can say for sure is that my line selection is very simple, straight forward and is a product of 40 years of trial and error. I hope that everyone can gain something from reading this article. In particular, those who are just getting started chasing river smallmouth bass should be able to establish a solid starting point in terms of line selection after reading the article.

Spinning Reel Line Selection

Examples of lures: Soft baits including bottom draggers, unweighted soft baits, jerkbaits, small soft swimbaits. Small hard baits such as crankbaits, suspending jerkbaits, top water baits.

Line…

Brand: Power Pro braided line
Color: High Vis Yellow
Test: 6/20

Briaded Fishing Line

The braided lines minimal stretch contributes greatly to rock solid hook sets. The  “no stretch” line also transmits every bump and grind when dragging baits on the bottom. This level of sensitivity will help the river angler discern what’s on the bottom as wall as enabling the angler to detect even the lightest bite when paired with a good quality rod.

The 6/20 breaking strength is plenty strong for river smallmouth bass up to and above the 5lb. mark.  I like the high vis yellow in particular for bottom dragging baits and various weightless soft plastics. The braided line floats so it acts as a great strike indicator. In addition, the Hi Vis yellow is easy to see even in low light conditions. When you get old like me and your eyes start to go it helps!

I always use a leader with all my spinning rod/braided line setups for several reasons:

  • Big smallmouth in particular tend to be “line shy” .  In muddy water smallmouth are not very line shy but I still use a leader.
  • When fishing from a kayak, it is much easier to break the leader than to break the braid off. If you’ve ever tried to break your line from a snag while floundering down a class II or III rapid, you know what I mean.
  • Leader material often enables you to make a realistic or natural presentation. For example; when I’m fishing unweighted 3″ stick worms, I use a 7 foot fluorocarbon leader so that the braid (it floats) will not impede the natural fall of the stick worm in 4-6 feet of water.

Leader material…

Brand: Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon Professional Grade
Color: Clear
Test: 10 lb.

Florocarbon Fishing Line

I use 10 lb. fluorocarbon because it is very close to the diameter of the braided line I use. Lines are more easily connected when they have similar diameters. I use a Uni-to-Uni Knot when connecting my floro leader to the braid. The most important factor, no matter what knot your using, is to tie the knot correctly. Floro burns and deforms easily so be sure to wet the knot before cinching down. If you burn or deform the fluorocarbon, it will break VERY easily.

My leader length varies from about 2 feet to 7 feet depending on the lure and water clarity.

Casting Reel Line Selection

Example of lures: crankbaits, spinnerbaits, lipless cranks

Brand: Berkley XT monofiliment
Color: Clear
Test: 10 lb. – 12 lb.

I like stretch in my line when spinnerbait fishing or crankbait fishing. The stretch allows the fish to turn with the bait more easily thus allowing for a better hookup. I want the fish be facing away from me with the bait when I set the hook rather than toward me. I use a sweep hook set with this rod/line configuration which I also believe results in a more solid hookups.

Casting Reel Line Selection for Top Water Baits

Line…

Brand: Power Pro braided line
Color: High Vis Yellow
Test: 6/20

Leader material…

Brand: Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon Professional Grade
Color: Clear
Test: 10 lb.

I use braid because it floats and allows me to “mend” the line in moving water situations when using lures such as Pop-R’s and Tiny Torpedoes. If the current puts a big bow in my line, I simply raise the rod tip high, lifting the line off the water while picking up slack with my reel. This re-establishes the straight line connection to my top water bait. I use a leader of about a foot or two. This is primarily to allow for easy break offs if I get a serious snag.

The Author

jveruete@gmail.com'

Juan Veruete

Juan is a licensed fishing guide in Pennsylvania and an American Canoe Association certified kayak instructor. Through his business he provides kayak fishing instruction and guide services on the Juniata and Susquehana Rivers in Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Wilderness Systems Fishing Team and prostaff for Kokatat, Yakattack, All Pro Rods, HOOK1, Winco's Custom Lures and H.C. Baits.

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