Dec. 20, 2012 Crab Snatchers Going Retro!

Written By: Steve ‘Hippo’ Lau, December 20, 2012

The new crab season has been rather unusual. For the first time in a long time, the crab season opened on time because crabbers and buyers agreed on a price before the new season. 

This was a relief to me as my mom had asked that we get crabs for Thanksgiving dinner. I first started bringing crabs three years ago, and now she expects it every year!

But the crabbers are back on strike again, and that is somewhat good news for sport crabbers. Because the commercials are not hauling in their pots, it is easier for the sport crabbers to catch a few of these tasty bugs.

Pacifica Pier, the focal point of much of the sport crabbing, has been overcrowded, to say the least,so a growing number of crabbers have resorted to catching crabs using castable crab snares from the beach.

Earlier this season, a good number of shore bound crabbers decided to use superbraided line for their crab catching because its thin diameter would allow for longer casts and its high strength would add to its ability to haul in a crab or two.

Then the problems arose.

When fishing with the superbraids, fish have a tendency to swim. Well, duuuuuh! But this tendency to swim also aids in their being able to be landed with the superbraids.

You see, with fish swimming and you pulling on them, you tend to be reeling in taut, but slack, line.

To illustrate, think about how you fight fish. Once it is on the hook, you don't normally simply reel the fish in. Either you wait for the fish to start swimming towards you or somehow creating a little slack (as in fighting a salmon from a boat) or you pull the fish towards you and then reeling in line while creating slack by lowering your rod (as when fighting a striped bass).

No such thing happens when pulling in a crab. It is usually a straight grind to get that crab back to you. Any slack in the line and the little nooses on the crab snare open up and your prized crustacean has won its freedom.

Grinding on a crab also causes great stresses on the knot. Any braid, all braids, no matter what it is woven from, consists of multitudes of fibers. With the superbraids, they consist of micro fibers.

While the line as a whole is strong, each fiber is very weak. As an example (for illustration purposes only), suppose you are using 100 lb. test braided line. 

Suppose it is made up of fibers that are 1/10 lb. test each. The line is then made up of 1/10 lb. test X 10 = 1 lb. test strands X 100 strands = 100 lb. test line. While the line is 100 lb. test, each strand is only as abrasion resistant as 1/10 lb. test line.

This is why when you use a braided line you cannot get a terminal knot that is 100%, strands break even as you are tightening the line.

Add to the mix the strain from cast, retrieving, dragging crabs, pulling out snags, etc. and you can see how every one of these things can contribute to weakening your line. No wonder, even in the days before the superbraids, when we only had Micron, nylon and dacron lines, common wisdom was to cut and retie your knots frequently.

Crabbers using the superbraids are finding out this truth now that they have chucked a number of crab snares into the deep blue while wondering how a simple cast can break their "powerful" 65 lb. test braided line.

The experiment of using superbraids is causing a growing number of crab snatchers to go "retro" as they are removing the superbraid from their reels and respooling with nylon monofilament line. They are finding that the superior knot strength over time is saving them from losing traps (c'mon ... we all know that we don't cut and retie our knots as often as we should!), that the extra stretch of mono helps to keep the nooses tight, and that purchasing bright yellow/fluorescent green line makes it easier to keep track of where your snare is sitting.

Two favorite monofilament lines to use right now has been the P-Line CXX Extra Strong line in fluorescent green and Sufix's Performance line in bright yellow, both in 25 lb. test. 

There may be a few out there who are going to stick with the super braids for crab snatching, but I have a feeling the majority are going to go back to the good ol' tried and true mono.

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