Polyester fishing lines, or Ester fishing line as also known still seem relatively new outside of the Japanese Domestic Market. But they are starting to appear elsewhere. Even here in little Britain. I first came across them in 2018 at the Osaska Fishing Show and came home with a spool of 34 Pinky to try on an ultralight outfit. Here’s my review.
Polyester fishing line is “special”. It’s not going to be for everyone. It’s a typical JDM fishing product in that it is designed for a specific job. It does that specific job very well. And not too much criticism is given to the pretty major downsides. Yin and yang my friend. You over deliver on some properties, you expect to under-deliver on others.
So what are the properties of Polyester and Ester fishing lines?
Well, first up it competes with braid in terms of sensitivity. In other words, feeling bites. So if you were say, an Aji-fisherman, fishing on-the-drop styles with ultralight presentations, ester line would allow you to better feel those subtle bites under a fairly slack line.
Why wouldn’t you just use braid?
Well, here’s the big difference. Polyester line sinks. It has even more gravity than the best fluorocarbon line and a whole load more feel. And of course it sinks much better than mostly floating braid line. That bow-effect you get with braided line can be a real challenge in certain circumstances. There’s no denying the benefit of a line that travels more directly from the rod tip to the lure, compared to braid that travels more along the surface and then down to the lure in a big bow. I’m not here to explain why this is good or bad… you should know ;0)
So you can start to see the place of Polyester and Ester lines. If you want the sensitivity of braid but you need a sinking line for your chosen style of angling, then Polyester should be a consideration.
Lastly, it’s an observation that a high percentage of Ester fishing lines come in hi-viz colours. I’m not sure if this has any link with the properties of polyester material, or rather it is just that Ester is best suited to the kind of fishing styles where it is beneficial to visibly see plucks in your mainline. Again, back to on-the-drop style methods in Aji game.
Okay, what’s likely to put you off of Ester fishing line?
Hmm. The list of negatives with polyester line is quite long. I don’t wish to be a #buzzkill here but these are your considerations:
First of all Ester is relatively stiff and springy. Be warned, it’s a mind-of-its-own kind of line! You will need your best Jedi line management skills on point. But before you run for the hills, that doesn’t mean it’s unworkable. It just means it limits the diameter of line that is workable. So, if you’ve been wondering why the choice in breaking-strain of polyester line is so limited, at the extreme lower end of the scale, this is why. Much stronger (thicker) than about 2.5lb or 3lb and it would drive you insane. If you’re going to try Ester, I would urge you not to necessarily buy the strongest variation just because it feels safer. 3lb polyester is more springy than 1lb polyester. So give your choice some thought or you might be put off the line for good.
Next up, polyester lines are brittle. I’m not sure if brittle is the right word, but the first time you pull for a break with polyester line it’s quite a surprising and exciting moment! In practice though, breakage shouldn’t be a regular problem. Certainly for Aji-style OTD methods. Maybe more so for trout in shallow, snaggy water. Another consideration. You will need a fairly smooth and quick reacting drag system. At these breaking strains and diameters I would be surprised if anyone is using them on spinning reels above a 2000-size.
But for me, by far the most major annoyance with polyester fishing line is its lack of knot-ability. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of stretch, or something to do with friction on this material, but it is by far the worst line I have come across to tie reliable knots. This means one thing… You need a leader. Tie one knot between the polyester and the leader material and you’ll be able to re-tie lures all day without a problem.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I think I was recommended to use a nylon leader – probably as a shock absorber – but I have been using thin, supple fluorocarbon just fine so far. I’ve been using a solid-tip rod with this combo meaning my rod is acting as the buffer. Yet another consideration.
Hmm, knots. No doubt there will be a recommended knot on the package of whichever Ester line you opt for. You might read that the Japanese are recommending a ‘Triple Eight Knot’. This looks to be a variation of the Surgeon’s Knot. To tie this knot you will need to cut your leader to length before tying it. But I have had some success tying a Uni-to-Uni with great care and attention so that the lines don’t bite each other until the very last tightening. The other thing I noticed in Japan was that anglers were leaving fairly long tag ends to their knots. I don’t know why this is. Whether the polyester material is known to slip, or indeed it may be some other reason.
There we go. That’s my summary of Ester fishing lines. By no means am I an expert here, but I have been using the line on and off for a couple of seasons. Very much a line for a specific purpose. Not a line I would like to use for casual, fun fishing every day. But fun to use occasionally and probably the very best line for ultralight, on-the-drop methods that I really enjoy when conditions allow here.