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Over the winter I realized that I had several reels which would need to be reloaded with Spectra line for Bluefin tuna fishing in the Northeast. I had read a lot about the benefits of hollow Spectra over solid braid but the idea of splicing lines together seemed foreign to me and I had a lot of knots that I knew and trusted. Still, hollow Spectra seemed to have compelling benefits. Here in Hollow Spectra Part II is what I learned from other fishermen, suppliers of line and leaders, and from the testing I've done on my own--time spent this winter verifying the claims and rumors. In particular, I wondered if splices were really 100% strong (they are) and how hard they were to make (pretty easy after some practice).

Hollow Spectra is said to have several advantages over solid braid: stronger-than-knot connections, thinner-than-knot connections that move unimpeded through the guides, and stronger, easy to connect leaders. After making and testing dozens of End Loop, Line to Line, and Mono/Fluoro-to-Spectra splices I can say that for me, hollow Spectra line, together with spliced fluorocarbon or monofilament leaders, meets its claimed advantages. If you are thinking of making the switch, what follows may be of interest.

End Loop and Line to Line Connections
The main thing to learn in a switch to hollow Spectra is how to make End Loop and Line to Line splices, and also the Loop to Loop connection. After making and testing each type and with the benefit of many conversations with Basil Pappas of BHP Tackle and several with Jerry Brown of Jerry Brown Industries, here is what I've concluded:

--Spliced connection strength: Whether you measure the strength of an End Loop, a Line to Line splice, or the connection between Spectra and monofilament, spliced connections are roughly 40% stronger than most knots (Photo1). Whether that makes a difference to you or not depends on your situation. My feeling is, why give up so much of a line's strength to knots? (There are some exceptions: 1) A perfectly made Mid Knot, P.R. Knot or Bimini Twist can approach the strength of a splice, but I can say from experience that I've made all of those knots break or slip on occasion during testing. No splice I've tested has broken or slipped. 2) If you apply a very thin cyanoacrylate glue to a Spectra knot it is nearly as strong as a splice but you have to make the knot right, the glue has to penetrate properly and the lines can't be wet. And you've still got a lump going through the guides.)

--Spliced connection size: Much smaller than an equivalent knotted connection (Photo 1). They cast smoothly with no catching on the guides. A Spectra to Spectra splice will achieve full strength at about 6" in length, but it is considered good practice to make them about 12" long. Once you have the splicing tool inside the hollow braid a 12" splice takes about 10 seconds longer than a 6" splice.

--Spliced connection stability: You can bend splices, twist them, run them through guides and any other hardware or wrap them around a swivel and they don't come apart.

--KISS factor: Using the hollow Spectra system, leaders get made ahead of time, swivels and split rings attached and tested. This is probably the biggest new investment of time or money depending on how many spares you will want to have on hand. When they need to be changed, it is with a simple Loop-to-Loop connection. Simpler and faster for me than tying any knot well, especially when the action is hot. (Photo 2)

--Repairability: Since a line to line splice tests 100% strong, when a section of line is bad, you can cut the line, splice in a new piece, and you're back at full strength.

--Flexibility: You can mix and match line strength. If you want to splice 130# hollow to a 60# hollow Main Line for the top 10 yards, it's a simple, 100% strong, line to line splice. End Loop splices can easily be made any size from a quarter inch to a few feet in length.

--Line Twist and Casting: I've now loaded and test cast four reels. I can see no difference in casting distance, nor any tendency toward line twisting or wind knots as compared to the solid braid that had been on the reels before. It is helpful with any machine spooled spinning reel to reset the top 100 yards before casting. http://www.360tuna.com/forum/f3/jb-hollow-core-casting-test-4815/, http://www.360tuna.com/forum/f3/spooling-minimum-line-twist-spinning-reels-4657/

--Casting Distance and Leaders: The spliced section of a pre-made leader is usually 2-3' and often there are two layers of spectra into which the 3' of monofilament leader is inserted and the last couple of inches is glued. (Photo 3) This 3' splice with the double-Spectra wall and glued-serve is very strong but is also a little bulky and somewhat stiff. For jigging and trolling, this isn't a problem, for casting I have observed a significant reduction in casting distance if you wind too much of the splice and leader around the spinning reel. It can start slapping the rod, even taking a clump of line off the spool with it. For casting, I see two choices: limit the amount of splice wound on the spool to three turns which leaves some of the splice in the guides but less clear leader to the tackle, or come up with a design that cuts the splice length to 3" to 12" so that there are 9' to 10' of clear leader outside the splice. My plan is to build very short splices. The problem with a short splice is that your Serve has to be perfect since there is little splice to back it up.

--Reel Capacity: It would have been hard to measure the actual breaking strength of several different braids and then load them onto the same reels to measure how much of each braid would fit. What I have seen from research is that the number one factor related to the strength of a well made Spectra line is HOW MUCH SPECTRA FIBER IS USED, not how it is woven. As an example from my tests: my sample of Daiwa 55# Boat Braid breaks at 57 pounds, the Jerry Brown 60# hollow that I have breaks above 90 pounds. I'm satisfied that this is the primary reason that my reels will hold more of the Boat Braid than the JB hollow. However, I was able to load 450 to 500 yards of 90# actual breaking strength hollow line onto each reel. When you load hollow Spectra under tension (5-10 pounds) the hollow core disappears, resulting in good packing density.

--Tools and Learning Curve: To make End Loop or Line to Line splices, you need a piece of thin wire (27# to 69# Stainless depending on hollow Spectra size), bent in half, that's it. 80# hollow and above is pretty easy to splice. 60# and below is fussier and somewhat difficult. Start learning with White (non-coated) 16 carrier, 80# line. After that try 100# (or greater), after that if you need it, learn to splice 60#. It took a few dozen attempts to learn to splice quickly but the third attempt, while slow, turned out perfectly. Colored or Coated hollow line is more difficult to splice. Once you've mastered splicing, it is fast and easy. The best part is that a splice will hold the full strength of the line. Here are two good links for how to make End-Loop, Line to Line splices and Loop to Loop connections.

BHP Tackle Splicing Tips

Blackwater International Splicing Tips

--Making Leaders: By all means, learn to do this if you like hobby activities. But unless you do, my advice would be to buy your leaders from someone expert like BHP Tackle. It's not too hard to make your own leaders but the SERVE is the key to strength and stability. It takes tools, time and expertise.

--SERVES: Every spliced connection needs to be "SERVEd" or pre-tensioned. The three most important spliced connections are the End Loop splice, the Line to Line splice, and the Monofilament (nylon or fluorocarbon) splice into Spectra. In each case, a line is inserted inside the hollow Spectra, when you try to pull the inserted line back out, a "Chinese Finger Trap" effect creates a huge amount of friction and the harder you try to pull the lines apart, the more the Finger Trap effect tightens the connection. The reasons a splice is so much stronger than a knot are: much more surface area in the connection to create friction; and no sharp turns in the connection to create stress concentration and fracture.

There are two challenges with splices:

1) If you loosen the finger trap just a tiny amount, it comes apart in an instant with ZERO effort. The way to make sure that the connection always "tensions" itself first, is to apply what is called a SERVE. The SERVE puts pressure on the Spectra where the inserted line is exiting.

2) When you insert monofilament into Spectra, the monofilament is stretchier than the Spectra. As a result, this type of connection can "creep" its way apart, although that would take dozens of full load cycles. It never slips, it just moves a bit each time you pull on it very hard. This problem is solved by gluing the SERVE together, the Spectra is glued to the mono where the mono exits (Photo 3) and then wrapped with a Spectra thread. (So in a glued served connection the load travels down the monofilament leader to the SERVE, then immediately to the Spectra braid and then down the Spectra braid to the reel. The spliced section carries only a small portion of the load, meaning that the Finger Trap effect is an insurance policy in case the glued SERVE lets go.) If you don't glue it, how much does it creep? A few percent each time you put a full load on the line. All commercial makers of leaders glue the SERVE.

--End-Loop Splice and Line-to-Line Splice: If you insert hollow Spectra into hollow Spectra, the SERVE can be made without glue or external wrappings. Look at the Photo 4, a line to line splice. Each line is spliced into the other and each splice can carry the full load. But what is also happening is that each splice also becomes the SERVE for the other splice. I have indicated on the photo how an 80 pound load will flow through the connection. It is a very ingenious design and will not slip in use. (But you can take it apart later.) Photo 5 shows the Line to Line splice finished.

The End-Loop splice is a harder to explain but have a look at the photo sequence Photo 6a through 7b. There I'm showing the basic steps to produce the splice and which part of the splice carries the load and which part performs the SERVE function. Again, whoever invented this came up with another great "self-SERVING" design. No external SERVE or glue is needed. Like the line to line splice, it will not slip but can be taken apart if you wish to.

--Splice Length and Size: One question that always comes up is, how long must the Load Carrying portion of the splice be? There is no simple answer. It depends on the Spectra (size and coating) and in the case of a Mono/Fluoro splice, the diameter of the materials. Some good starting points are: 12" for the load carrying portion of End Loop and Line to Line splices; and 3' for a Mono/Fluoro insertion. As I showed in Photo 6c, you can always test the load carrying section of a splice by Serving it with a rubber band. If the splice holds, you're good. What I do is find the minimum length to hold the splice and then double or triple it.

--Summary: Although there were new techniques to learn, for the types of fishing I'll be doing here in the Northeast, hollow Spectra line and splicing delivers a strong, smooth and simpler line connection system.

© Pametfisher


Senior Member
969 Posts
Pamet: Superb post !! I'm a big believer in JB Hollow Core. I've mastered the end loop, line to line splice, inserting mono and am getting better at Topshots/windons. I enjoy playing with this stuff.
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