Spiderwire Invisi-Braid Under The Microscope

1 Posted by - 27/01/2013 - Gear Reviews, Tackle

Macro Photo Update

This is an update to the original post, for the full review scroll down.

I have been amazed at the attention this post has received and clearly I hit a nerve with some Spiderwire Invisi-Braid die hards after more than a few emails from folk defending the stuff or suggesting that I got a bad batch. Many months back I even had someone ask if they could send me some samples to compare which I came across again the other day when rummaging for a spare spool of braid. Having just become the proud owner of Canon’s MP-e 65mm Macro Lens I couldn’t resist taking a few shots and let the pictures do the talking.

I had received small lengths of 60lb & 30lb Invisi-Braid from a very devoted Spiderwire fan which I was assured were not “loose weave” as I had suggested in the review below. I didn’t have nay 60lb Tuff line on hand but I did have some 80lb that had recently been put on my Saltiga 6000-GT and been stretched with some West Australian Samson Fish (similar to Yellowtail Kings) on a few outings while I was home at Christmas. I also had a sample of 30lb Invisibraid but no direct comparison. I did however still have a full spool of the 20lb Invisi-Braid I took to Belize (which had since seen water in Honduras and Perth) and some 20lb Tuff Line that had done light duty on a Daiwa Sol.

Green 80lb Tuff Line XP (above) VS White 60lb Invisi-Braid (below). Note the similar diameters yet Tuff Line is rated 20lb higher. While I can’t vouch for the amount of fishing the invisi-braid has received compared to the tuff line, the fuzziness is a little concerning.

Green 80lb Tuff Line XP (above) VS White 60lb Invisi-Braid (below) up close. While it is not earth shattering it appears the individual strands in the Tuff Line XP are laid a little tighter/closer when compared to the invisi-braid. The lay in the tuff line looks a little neater but then that could be a factor of the amount of use each line has seen.

Yellow 20lb Tuff Line XP (above) VS White 20lb Invisi-Braid (below). Note the difference in diameter for similar strength line, the tuff line also looks more compact.

Yellow 20lb Tuff Line XP (above) VS White 20lb Invisi-Braid (below). Look at the Invisi-Braid, you can clearly see the primary strands that make up each secondary strand that are weaved together to form the finished line. Note how those secondary strands sit quite loose and are separated from each other. Now look at the yellow Tuff Line, far more compact and while the secondary strands are visible they appear far less seperated from each other.

The loose weave isn’t as visible as I thought it would be up close, the best way to get a feel for it is digging your thumb nails into the stuff and teasing it apart. Size alone however will do it for me, I would much rather fish the 80lb Tuff Line than the  comparable 60lb Invisi-Braid!

The day someone using Invisi-Braid out fishes me in clear water against spooky I may take another point of view (unlikely), until then I’m going to stick with the cheaper and superior option of good ‘ole Tuff Line XP. Those guys at Western Filaments clearly know how to make good fishing line at a reasonable price.

 

Spiderwire Ultracast Invisi-Braid Final Review

This post is an update of the initial review, providing more detailed information following field testing in Belize. 

Since the dawn of the superline revolution I have used Fins PRT and Tuf-Line XP exclusively, depending on which one was available in my time of need. Both lines are very reasonably priced, have the right mix of memory and suppleness and have fairly low diameter for their test. I have even heard more than once that they effectively come out of the same factory but I cant find any evidence of this.

So it came as a surprise to me when I went against the grain a brought home a spool of Spiderwire Ultracast Invisi-Braid to fill the new Stradic CI4. At almost twice the price of Fins and Tuf-Line this stuff had to be great!

Superline Braid Review Spiderwire Invisi-Braid

While it may be called Invisi-Braid, Spiderwire actually promotes this stuff as being translucent which is a long way from invisible. Most mono-filaments are translucent but yet we still rely on fluorocarbon for an extra edge in the visibility stakes. It is loose weaved which may help to push it to the invisible end of the translucent scale when wet but with loose weave comes some other issues. If anyone has managed to accidentally hook their own fishing line they will know what I’m talking about. Light test loose weave superlines also have a tendancy to float in the air following the cast and can be a nightmare when trying to fire in precise casts with a lot of obstructions around and a light breeze blowing.

Loose weave also effects diameter and 20lb Invisi-Braid comes in at 0.24mm diameter compared to 0.19mm for for Tuf-Line XP. That 26% extra diamater really counts when you are loading small reels with heavier class lines and hoping for a few scorching runs. Interestingly, 20lb Fins PRT comes in at 0.254 mm so maybe I should cut Invisi-Braid some slack.

Superline Review Invisi-Braid & Tuff Line XP20lb Spiderwire Ultracast Invisi-Braid above (0.24mm) | 20lb Tuf-Line XP below (0.20mm)

To give Invisi-Line some credit, it does feel like the real deal and is not overly stiff nor limp, I have heard good reports on how it casts and expect the loose weave to assist with abrasion resistance. Enough speculation however, it was time to put this visibility challenged line through its paces.

Spooling Up with Spiderwire Invisi-Braid

First observation, this stuff ties really well! It is a little more supple than Tuf-Line which is helpful when trying to manipulate it through tight wraps and turns typical to most superline knots although in high winds this may be a hindrance, especially with lighter classes. The combination of soft line (loose weave) and waxy finish also really helped to pull knots up nice and tight, not once did a knot lock up halfway which is something I occasionally run into with other superlines.

Loading the spool did not go quite as well… Aware of the larger diameter I went lean on the mono backing but still hit spool capacity well before I expected for 20lb superline. Admittedly this was the first time I had loaded the Stradic Ci4 however I have been playing with very similar stated spool capacities for a long time and never got things so terribly wrong – even with the larger diameter Fins PRT.  I would be interested in measuring this stuff up under a microspope to see if the stated 0.24mm diameter is really accurate – my gut feeling is it will come in slightly wider.

Upset with my wastage, I pulled the Invisi-Line back off the Stradic, removed all but a light layer of mono for it to bite into and re-spooled. This helped somewhat but I was still left with significantly more line on the Spiderwire spool than I am use to for this size reel/line combination – even withstanding the fact that I deliberately overfilled the spool.

Shimano StradicStradic 2500 loaded with 15lb Tuf-Line (left) and Stradic CI4 spooled with 20lb Spiderwire Invisi-Line (right) 

First Cast with Spiderwire Invisi-Braid

I fully expected to throw loops and cut-off a significant amount of line on my first cast having overfilled the spool and using a jerky retrieve style that really increases the chances of winding on line not under tension. I was amazed 1000′s of casts later when I realised I had never once had to sacrifice any line or “pull and hope” on a casting knot. Perhaps it is the perfect mix of memory and suppleness or maybe the loose weave.. either way it is a big win for Invisi-Line.

Casting distance was unremarkable. The increased diameter and loose weave definitely limited my reach but not significantly, this was most noticeable into a stiff winf and I can also foresee lighter classes floating a little too much for my liking. Distance aside, Invisi-Braid casted very smoothly and I never encountered any issues with it.

Invisi-Braid – Now you see me, now you…….. still see me

To be fair Spiderwire never said this stuff was invisible – just translucent. In gin clear water this stuff stood out as well as high-vis Tuf-Line from where I was standing. Visibility (or invisibility) is a complicated science and I do not doubt that Invisi-Braid has a lower refractive index when compared to other superlines – but does this translate to better performance? Fish also see the world through a different set of rules than we do and I’m not even going to speculate how they interpret this information.

Belize BonefishWhile the water may appear Gin clear from up above, down below it is a different story. A good length of fluorocarbon may be all the ‘masking’ we need in many situations

In some situations Invisi-Braid may just provide you with the edge but in other situations the same fish wouldn’t care if you were using a piano wire or 50lb monofilament. At the end of the the day we should all be using fluorocarbon at the business end and I will always standby the fact that lure selection (size, colour, profile, action) is going to have a far bigger impact than line visibility on whether or not you convert that follow into a hookup or a heartbreaking swirl behind your lure as your quarry hesitates and heads for the safety of deeper water.

Bomber Lures LutjanidIn skinny crystal clear water the colours and action of this lure were the only thing this Snapper ever noticed

The other trade off we must consider is line diameter versus visibility. There is going to be a point where a smaller diameter high-vis line is going to be less visible to a fish’s eye than near translucent but larger diameter line. I am also not convinced that Invisi-line is significantly less visible than other superlines to warrant its use based on that alone. After all, plenty of people use high vis yellow, green, pink and red or multicoloured superlines with good result.

Hookup!

During my time in Belize this stuff endured many thousands of casts, and played with all manner of Lutjanids (Snapper) and Carangids (Trevally or Jacks) without issue. The real test came in the form of a few 60lb Tarpon and Invisi-Line performed as one would expect a superline to. The one standout feature was the notable lack of abrasion or “fuzz” following a long drawn out fight with a fish that far exceeded my leader length. After a week of hard fishing the line still looks like brand new with no burrs, loose strands, or signs of damage – not even loss of colouration. I am used to regularly trimming a rod length off my line each new day, even from just the wear and tear from casting – not once did I feel the need to cut off the last few feet of Invisi-Line, it always looked brand new.

Belize TarponThis Tarpon was no match for a Shimano Stradic Ci4 spooled with 20lb Invisi-Line and mounted on Nitro’s 007 Viper travel rod

The Verdict

I arrived in Belize with a spare spool of Tuf-Line and fully expected to change lines on the Stradic Ci4 following the first days heavy use. In the end however I never even considered this option – this stuff aint that bad! The only caveat is that I was a little disappointed with the diameter – it felt like I was fishing with 30lb superline, not 20lb. This was not an issue really as I never knew what was going to turn up of the edge of the reef and I had another lighter outfit for the finesse flats fishing. If I only had one outfit I would have probably preferred the Tuf-Line - its diameter and stiffness makes me feel like I’m pushing the boundaries with a microline – it reeks of finesse compared to the diameter of the Invisi-Line. The other issue as predicted was with the loose weave, twice Owner trebles penetrated the line while the lure was hanging off a guide, once removed however there were no noticeable signs of damage. It did not handle attack of the needlefish so well (did I mention my dislike for needlefish) which resulted in the one required amputation after the weave was spread open.

I definitely won’t be removing the line anytime soon and in the absence of Tuf-Line or Fins PRT I would definitely use it again. The price however is its biggest downfall. At $38 for 300yds of 20lb it is definetly priced as premium line, hard to stomach when comparative spools of Tuf-Line and Fins can be picked up for $25 and $22 respectivley.

The next test is longevity, how will the line stack up 12 months down the road after heavy use and sun exposure? I will have to get back to you on that one but in the mean time I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experience with Spiderwire Invisi-Line.