Serving Aces with PowerPro's Hollow Braid
Total Score: 8.33 -
EDITOR'S CHOICE AWARD
Several years ago we explored the use of hollow braid. At the time, the material was not easily sourced, at least not in strengths viable for bass fishing. A product developed for the pursuit of large, saltwater game fish, typical strengths for hollow braid were 60 pounds and up. PowerPro entered the market a few years ago not only making the product more accessible, but offering it in strengths that are more in line with what bass fishermen would use. In an effort to perfect my leader connection game, I finally dove back into the hollow braid game and PowerPro's Hollow Ace was the impetus.
PowerPro Hollow Ace Specifications
||16 strand Spectra hollow braid
||White, Hi-Vis Yellow, Marine Blue
||40, 60, 80, 100, 130, 200
|Line Weights Fished
||40 & 60
||$24.99/150yds (60lb = $0.17/yd)
Background: Hollow braid is not really intended for use as a reel to bait mainline. It is a braid product specifically developed to be used with a leader, but rather than tying your connection knot of choice and immediately downgrading the strength of your line to whatever strength your connection knot might be, you insert a length of your leader material into the actual braid itself. When both sides of the line are in tension the braid actually grips the surface of the leader material like a finger trap providing a connection method equal to one hundred percent strength of the leader material.
Introducing PowerPro's Hollow Ace braided line
It is an intriguing method of connection first introduced to us by Dean Yoshizumi formerly of Blackwater International, the company that over ten years ago had North American distribution rights to Toray fishing line. Blackwater International has since dissolved and with them went their hollow braid product that was available in the bass fishing sizes of 50 and 65lb test. That's partially why I abandoned the this connection strategy. The other part was due to the complexity involved in setting it up and installing the leaders. Now, thanks to Covid-19 and my frustration over being able to tie a consistent connection knot with standard braid, I have all kinds of time to re-examine this method, and thanks to PowerPro, the hardest part, finding the line, is a non issue.
Traditionally more applicable to saltwater techniques, hollow
braid has its place in freshwater fishing as well - if you can find it in small
So where do we start? You don't just take the leader material and push it into the braid. It can't be that simple, can it? Don't worry, it isn't. In fact, if you decide to go this route, there are a few tools you will need to acquire.
Gearing up for leader installation : Clamps, razor blade, braid
cutter, bobbin winder/serving jig, hollow spectra needles
Threading Needles: Perhaps the most important tool to accomplish this task are the needles. Several companies make hollow spectra threading needles, but the most popular seem to be the product by a company named DaHo. There are several sizes of needles, but since we're only using the smallest strengths of hollow braid, we only really need the smallest needles.
DaHo's hollow needles are the industry standard. We use model
numbers NO2017 and NO3020
Clamps: You will, at some point, need two clamps of some sort to hold the line in place so you can tie the finishing knot on your leader. Yes, there is still a knot to tie, but it's not to connect the lines. It is simply to keep the loose end of the hollow braid in place so the braid doesn't bunch up when the line is in slack. Having a set of clamps about two to two and a half feet apart to hold the line on either end so you can work on that finishing knot is essential.
There are many types of bobbin winders/server jigs. This is one was sufficient
for my use, but there is a learning curve with these things
Bobbin/Serving Jig: This tool is optional. You can use a nail knot as your method of finishing the connection. It's much simpler and less complicated, but using a bobbin or serving jig to serve the knot is kind of fun. I always wanted an excuse to buy one, so I used this review as justification. Note, there is a learning curve with this too both in getting the line onto the winder and setting the tension properly. There's actually a small drag disc inside that I had to grease up to get smooth, consistent pressure.
I tapered the end of my 20lb Super Natural with a razor blade so
I could slide it into the NO2017 needle more easily
Crazy or TAC Glue: A fast setting glue is recommended on your finishing knot to protect it from unraveling. Crazy Glue or something similar is the easiest to source, but there's a product called TACGLUE that a lot of people who tie these hollow braid leaders use instead. It has a better shelf life than Crazy and other similar glues and seems to be designed with this purpose in mind.
Starting at the end of the hollow braid can get tricky
Impressions: As I mentioned earlier, hollow braid was really created for saltwater fishing, so it's uncommon to see it offered in diameters that freshwater anglers can use. PowerPro has managed to create Hollow Ace in what they list as 40lb test. More importantly, this 40lb test is rated at a diameter typical of 10lb test which would equate to roughly 0.30mm. Similarly, Hollow Ace at 60lbs is rated with a 15lb test diameter or roughly 0.36mm. These diameters are very applicable to bass fishing.
So I prefer, instead to start about three feet up the line by
piercing it straight through...
I tried to scope both lines at five different points over roughly five feet of line, and measured the 40lb Hollow Ace at 0.228mm on average and the 60lb test at 0.273 which tells me the line probably flattened out under the pressure of our micrometer's calipers because those numbers are pretty low - especially for the 60lb product.
... then working the needle into the line in the direction of the
The line itself is super smooth and when I run it between my fingers, it feels like there's some type of protective coating. It's not thick or waxy, but just feels a tiny bit rigid and un-naturally smooth - just a little bit. Back to the line's diameter, I cannot tell by running the line between my fingers that it isn't round or that it is flat, but with hollow braid, outside diameter isn't the key.
Then it's a matter of slowly working your way up the line
The actual key with this product is what diameter lines can it hold inside. Fortunately, PowerPro offers recommended leader sizes to match each class of Hollow Ace. I've broken those recommendations out in the following table. My primary interest was with the 40lb Hollow Ace and how small of a leader I could actually use. Recognizing the recommendation is for 20lb (0.017inches / 0.43mm), I wanted to see if I could go lighter, so I took out some used spools of HiSeas and Seaguar fluorocarbon lines from 8 to 15 pounds to see what the lowest diameter line was I could get the 40lb Hollow Ace to hold.
Power Pro Hollow Ace Recommended Leader Size
|Leader Strength (lb test)
|Min Leader Diameter (inches)
|Max Leader Diameter (inches)
|Min Leader Diameter (millimeters)
|Max Leader Diameter (mm)
I began by taking turns threading 8, 10, and 12lb test HiSeas 100% fluoro, and 15lb Seaguar Tatsu into the Hollow Ace to about two feet, smoothing the hollow braid over the fluorocarbon, and then pulling each end to see how well the braid gripped the fluoro. I was surprised to feel resistance even with the 8 pound line (0.257mm / 0.010inches) but of course it did pull out. So did the 10 pound line. The 12 pound (0.332mm / 0.013 inches) felt solid on my first pull, but when I re-gripped and pulled again, it slowly pulled out making me think I might be able to make it work if I threaded enough of the line, maybe up to four feet, into the braid.
I bunch the hollow braid onto the needle until it's full, then
slide it off the back onto the leader material, and then start a new bunch until
I've run the leader material far enough into the braid