While the vast majority of gear conversations regarding musky fishing revolve around rods, reels, and above all else lures, the line you choose to use might be the most important component of your musky fishing experience. There is NO WORSE FEELING than putting in the time and effort to pursue, hook, and attempt to land a musky only to have your line fail—and let me tell you it happens.
As a full-time, professional, year-round musky guide, the last thing that I am willing to tolerate is a terminal tackle failure. Terminal tackle failures are 100% unacceptable. My clients have paid deposits, paid for plane tickets, hotels, food, etc. to spend a few hours on the boat with me in the pursuit of trophy muskies. At the very minimum, my boat is clean and tidy, my hooks are sharp, my lures are ready to go, and my reels are spooled with new line. As a matter of personal and professional pride, I refuse to lose a musky to an easily preventable failure.
But just two short winters ago a brand of line that will go unnamed in this article made me feel like an incompetent fool. Just mere hours before launching for my day's guide trip I spooled up four client reels with a brand new line. I would interject that if you know me or have been on my boat as a guide client you have never seen worn, sun-bleached, or questionable line on any of my reels. So just like every Sunday morning for countless years I stood in my front yard and re-spooled reels. I opened the bulk spool of line and just like innumerable times before respooled reels at a great financial expense to provide my clients with the best gear possible. I will never say that fishing with me is a guarantee but I have told clients for years that you will have a top-notch boat, musky fishing gear, and lures and I will always give my best regardless of conditions. This starts with a sense of perfection regarding my rods, reels, leaders, hooks, etc.
Well to make a long story short after a few hours on the particulate guide trip my client hit musky pay dirt and got a strike. It should be noted that I run four Go Pro Cameras every day on my boat so I have watched the following footage numerous times. When my client proceeded to set the hook the line (I had just mere hours spooled up) broke somewhere well past the rod tip. Needless to say, I was sickened, not only did my client lose a fish that may or may have not died due to a faulty line, but I also looked like a total incompetent loser. This client didn’t care about when I spooled his reel, he only knew that it had, failed and at the end of the day, it boiled down to me. No, he didn’t say anything negative to me but when you take pride in your work these failures are unacceptable.
Needless to say, I immediately switched my client's reel out as well as his rod in case there was an abrasive point of contact in a rod eyelet. But what transpired shortly thereafter was beyond sickening. Roughly thirty minutes later, I went to set the hook on a sucker strike and, yep you guessed it, snap—another line break well away from the rod tip.
Well at this very moment, I had a conversation with my client and addressed the line issues we were having. I told him I could not in good conscience continue to fish with the line we had and not only would I not accept his money, but I would cover his travel expenses and a future return trip. Again, I don’t take terminal tackle failures lightly.
That evening when I returned home, I told my wife about what had happened and approximately how much those line failures were going to cost us. While some married men may have cringed at this point, I would point out that I have a wonderful and highly supportive wife who didn’t blink an eye at the financial loss of the day. The only thing she said was, “You have designed a successful lure why can’t you come up with a better musky line?” Admittedly my knee-jerk reaction was to drown my frustration in a few beers and move on, but the next morning the question was brought up again.
So, after some serious consideration, we began our journey to search for the best quality musky fishing line and the result was Next Level Braid.
Countless emails and calls were made to research where and how braided lines were made. And in full disclosure, the vast majority of the musky braids most anglers count on are made in China with issues of poor quality control. Fast forward past months of research testing and hurdles, we were able to connect with the premier line manufacturing facility utilizing material manufactured in Japan. As a Suzuki outboard endorser, I can assure you’re the Japanese take pride in everything they do and the braided line is no exception. After many, many, many test runs the result was the best musky fishing braided line I have ever fished.
Next Level Braid is woven from eight strands of premium Japanese-made waterproof textiles that are smooth and durable. I can assure you that your casts will be longer, smoother and most importantly your knots between leader and line will not slip. Next Level Braid has just enough texture to grip but is smooth for all-day casting and trolling applications. Also, it should be noted that “bird nests” and “backlashes” are reduced by the composition of Next Level Braid. I spent years fishing all manner of fishing lines and now I can stop searching after testing Next Level Braid. Countless muskies have been caught during the prototyping process, both casting and trolling.
Another issue in regards to musky fishing braided line I wanted to address was the cost associated versus how much line you got for your hard-earned dollar. Next Level Braid is far less expensive than the “big boy” brands meaning you get more a little more line per spool. Each spool has 160 yards of premium braided line which is more than enough for two musky casting reels. But more importantly, Next Level Braid is tested and checked in extremely small batches for consistency. The package clearly says 80 pounds breaking strength and I can assure you it will always be at or above this on each and every spool that bears the name Next Level Braid.
Line failure is not an option when musky fishing and if you are sick and tired of inconsistent, overpriced musky lines join me and make the switch to Next Level Braid.
Tennessee Musky Fishing Guide. Tennessee Musky. Melton Hill Musky Guide.