Jeremy Smith is a lifelong angler and many would say he is living the dream. Smith works for Lindner Media and has done just about every job in the company at one time or another. To say he’s hooked on fishing is an understatement. We interviewed Smith during an episode of the Fish House Nation Podcast. The topic was a controversial one… what is the best line for ice fishing? It’s a question that gets asked all the time at consumer shows, on forums, and pretty much anywhere else people discuss fishing.
Line is important and Smith says everyone has their own beliefs about what is the best choice. “Obviously, line is a huge deal for not only ice fishing, but open water. It’s one of the biggest questions I get asked. My answer to it typically is whatever you’re most comfortable with. In some situations, you might choose braid where I might like fluorocarbon, and Al Lindner might like monofilament. We can all be successful. It really comes down to personal preference.”
Smith likes using monofilament for a variety of reasons. He believes it sheds water and ice well outside but he also uses it as a tool to detect bites. “I do like the handling characteristics of it. I fish outside most of the time. Let’s use panfish as a starting example. What I really like about mono is that it has a little bit of memory to it. For example, if I’m fishing bluegills with a really light jig, if a fish bites it and it’s an upbite, you can just watch to see if your line moves. If your line straightens out or if it jumps you know you’ve got a bite on a really finicky fish. You’re line and the memory in your line can essentially act like a spring bobber does.”
When chasing panfish, Smith uses a little heavier line than most. “I really like using three pound. I know a lot of guys would argue that you need to have one pound or two-pound line to get more bites. That’s true in many cases. However, I find the utility of it isn’t necessarily there. I can get a couple more sunnies to bite because I was using one pound but end up breaking off a nice bass, getting bit off by pike, or losing a big crappie from getting wrapped around the transducer… by using a lighter line you’re going to have a higher failure rate especially if you’re getting around bigger fish. Stepping up to that three-pound is a really sweet spot.”
When chasing bigger fish, Smith favors a specific six-pound line. “There’s one mono line in particular that I’ve fallen in love with the past few years. I started using it for jigging rap fishing in open water and then and then snap jigging. It’s Suffix Advance Mono. It’s a mono that actually sinks but it has an incredibly low stretch. It’s the lowest stretching mono that I know… the six-pound Suffix Advance is like the craziest line I’ve ever seen. I’ll use it in the summer with deep diving crankbaits, I’ve caught 40-pound flatheads on this line, I’ve caught giant muskies, and tons of walleyes. You name it. It’s like this six-pound can’t break. It’s what I use when I’m burbot fishing. I’m using it for lake trout fishing and walleye fishing. It’s a line with low stretch, it sinks, and it’s tough as nails.”
But even Smith admits that line isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are times when other lines work better. “I’m using braid during more rugged conditions. If it’s really cold and you might be fishing walleyes or trout… you know that it’s really durable and you can still pinch your mitts on it and strip the ice off it and you’re not going to do any damage to it. I tend to use braid when I’m fishing bigger stuff outside and I’m dealing with a lot of really tough conditions.”
Fluorocarbon also comes into play, especially for leader line. “I do fish a ton of fluorocarbon throughout the year. It’s obviously the main choice for a leader line. I do like the Invisaline Ice Fluorocarbon a lot. It handles a lot like a mono. The biggest issue you’ll have with fluorocarbon is the extreme memory. When you’re ice fishing, unless you’re in a warm, comfortable house, you really want to look at the suppleness of that line. If it’s a really stiff fluorocarbon, it’s not going to be a good choice for most ice fishing applications. One thing I see people make a mistake of when they’re spooling up spinning equipment with fluorocarbon is they over-spool the reel. If you put too much line on the reel, that’s when you’re going to start to have the big bird’s nests or the big hoops coming off the line. You’re going to want to make sure you’re keeping that spool about an ⅛” from the rim of it and you’ll have a lot better handling characteristics with it.”
Ultimately, Smith says the best line for every angler is the line they like the best. If you’re confident with it, you’ll fish better. “If you’re fishing mono, or you’re fishing braid or fluorocarbon, and you like it and you’re catching fish with it but you’re hearing people say “hey, this is the only way to go” certainly give it a try. It’s always fun to experiment and you might find advantages to it. But if it’s working and you’re comfortable with it, that’s the best choice for you.”
To listen to the full conversation with Jeremy Smith, click the player below or visit our podcast page by clicking here.