The topic of the best running/shooting line for skagit or scandi style spey setups is an age old debate, and certainly not one we’re not willing to make a ruling on.
However, a long time ago we told you why we liked plain ol’ Berkeley Big Game monofilament for running line on our spey and switch rods, and despite some really great advancements in running lines since, today we’re here to tell you – we still do!
In fact, many of our guides at Alaska West still prefer it over more expensive running lines for a number a reasons. We think its still a great option after all these years, so today we thought we’d tell you why we’re still fishing it!
What We Like
- It’s Really Inexpensive. At a whopping $9.99 for 370 yards, ten bucks will rig up over eleven reels worth of running line (at 100 ft. per running line). Not too bad. All monofilament running/shooting lines break down over time, and being able to replace it regularly without breaking the bank is a really good thing.
- It Shoots Well. There’s no doubt about it, monofilament running lines shoot really far in comparison to their PVC coated cousins. Although it might not shoot quite as far as more expensive, flat, thinner, mono running lines, we find the difference in distance to be relatively insignificant for a fishable cast.
- It Handles Well for Mono. A common complaint of mono running line is that it can be difficult to handle, particularly with cold and/or wet hands. Most of the time, we find this just takes some getting used to. With that said, the thinner and/or flatter the mono, generally the more difficult it can be to handle. Being round in cross section, and significantly larger in diameter than more expensive mono running lines, we find Berkeley Big Game (40 lb. is our favorite) to be a little easier to handle.
- High Visibility. Unlike other inexpensive bulk monofilament, Berkeley Big Game is available in a high-vis chartreuse green color called Solar Collector which makes it easy to keep track of as the fish takes down the run.
What We Don’t Like
- Memory. Unlike fancier mono running lines, Berkeley Big Game does develop some memory on the spool. A quick stretch before stepping into the first run of the day will generally keep this at bay, but is slightly more inconvenient compared to memory-free lines.
- It Doesn’t Float. A downfall of many mono running lines, Big Game doesn’t float, which can become difficult to manage in snaggy, obstacle ridden areas, especially for those new to spey casting.
- Bulky Knots. Being a larger material than most fly fishing specific mono lines, knots tied in standard 40 lb. Big Game can be a little bulkier than most are used to. However, we find a standard triple surgeons knot smoothed out with a drop of Loon’s UV Knot sense will slide through the guides just fine.
It won’t be long before we’ll be rigging up our two handed rods for our summer seasons, and you better believe some us will be reaching for plain ol’ Berkeley Big Game for our go-to running line. We still think its a great option in many ways, especially for those interested in trying mono on their spey or switch rod for the first time.
In fact, at less than ten bucks a pop, we don’t think its a bad idea to keep a spool in your boat bag for that unexpected running line malfunction either.
Joe Pratt says
I used Berkeley Big Game as my running line after reading your post from a while back. While I agree with the benefits, I found the memory issue and line handling problems to be a real hassle. After a long cast I found it to be a pain to create loops of line that I could easily hold (top or bottom hand) for the next cast. Pinching the line against the grip on a cold, wet day is difficult, unless you apply rubber tape to your grip.
I finally took the Big Game off the reel and splurged on Airflo’s Miracle Braid (thank you Deneki for leading me in that direction, and especially for the splicing video!). Yes, it is WAY more expensive, but it’s worth it in terms of fishing performance and pure enjoyment. It shoots great, it’s easy to manage and coil (loop, I should say) for the next cast, and it floats! Plus, zero memory. Saving a few bucks was just not worth the annoyances that come with Big Game mono. I can totally see why guides would use the stuff: it’s cheap!!
Put it on correctly (not with a reel spooler) and your memory problems are gone.