Breaking News Bar
updated: 12/26/2012 1:45 PM

For fishing, light lines still the way to go

Success - Article sent! close

Several years ago one of this country's greatest salesman and hucksters, B.A.S.S. founder and angler Ray Scott, invited me to his place in Alabama.

He wanted to demonstrate his new line of Asian-made rods as well as the introductory version of a new, American-made spinning reel.

Scott was hot-to-trot with his efforts to try to convince anglers that 4-pound test line was the way to go in order to put more fun into fishing.

Not to steal Ray's thunder then, and even now, I have promoted the use of ultralight lines for more than 40 years. I told Ray about my efforts, and all he did was grunt and turn away.

Even in 1965, 4-pound mono was strong enough to land big fish without too much strain and pain. But because bass tournament participants were enamored with the use of 20- and 30-pound mono, they hardly ever considered using any of the light stuff.

In the last 10 years or so, however, these same pros started using spinning tackle while trying to locate big bass. I spoke with two who asked their names not be used in print and they both told me their sponsors scoffed at the idea of using spinning gear and light line.

That mentality didn't surprise me, because for many years a lot of bass pros didn't do anything more than cast spinnerbaits and crankbaits to shorelines hoping to find a fish or two.

Scott sold his moneymaking Bass Anglers Sportsman Society machine and moved on to other gigs, and his effort to sway the mentality of many anglers to use 4-pound line waned.

Because a lot of professional walleye tournament people troll a good portion of the day, they use heavy, marked, lead-core line to go deep in search of suspended fish.

All of this chatter led me to remembering a bit of angling trivia that happened on the Fox Chain's Spring Channel.

A local angler was anchored in about 8-feet of water. Both he and his fiancee were using spinning gear. Her gear was an ice fishing reel spooled with 3-pound line. She was vertically jigging for panfish and subsequently hooked a perch close to the bottom. As she brought the fish up to the surface, a 36-inch muskie hit the perch and impaled itself on the tiny ice fishing jig she'd used to catch the perch in the first place.

Spencer Petros, fishing guru, jack-of-all-trades and elder statesman for much of the civilized angling world, will fight anyone to the death in defense of heavy lines for muskie fishing. He has certainly caught his share of toothy critters, and I dare not argue against his stand.

But he also endorses the use of 2-pound to 4-pound line for critical, light-bite scenarios when ice fishing, and even for soft-water crappie action.

Don't get me wrong. I commend Ray Scott for hitching his wagon to the ultralight movement. Yet his former followers, the ones with the tricked out, $30,000 bass boats and enough sponsor labels to wallpaper any huge house in Barrington, refuse to believe or accept the premise that tiny lures, ultralight fishing line and a change of attitude can make all the difference in the world.

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.