Serving Aces with PowerPro's Hollow Braid
The winner turned out to be 15 pound Tatsu ( 0.344mm / 0.0135inches). This line made a good connection with the 40lb Hollow Ace so I spooled my Metanium 151B with the hollow braid and proceeded to install 15lb Tatsu as the leader. Note this is quite a bit smaller than the factory recommended leader size. Then again, 0.017 inches is the diameter of 30 pound Sunline Super Natural, not 20. For this method to work for me, I need to be able and fish leader sizes that are more realistic for bass fishing. Of course, the next question is, how do you accomplish this mysterious connection?
Standard practice is to thread about two feet of leader into the
hollow braid. I go in about three to four feet just in case
Installing the Leader: The real make or break characteristics of hollow braid is how easy the line is to work with and by that I mean how easy or difficult is it to get the threading needle into the braid itself. If you attempt to go through the open end, the line has a tendency to fray leaving you with a bit of a messy end to deal with.
Pull the needle off the leader line, trim the end, and slide the
leader back into the hollow braid until it is fully concealed
What I like to do is start about three feet down from the end and pierce through the middle of the line, then work the needle into the braid's cavity very carefully, directing the needle towards the reel. 40lb Hollow Ace is very thin, so it takes a good deal of patience to get started. Once you do get it going, insert your leader material into the hollow needle (you can also do this at the beginning), and then slowly work your needle up the length of the line bunching the line up on the needle as you go.
Now to finish off the end
When the braid is all bunched up on the needle, carefully push the pile down over the fluorocarbon. Once the needle is clear, begin moving further up the hollow braid, repeating that bunching process until you're satisfied. I think the recommendation is at least two feet. I usually go three to four just to be safe. If you go too quickly, the needle will poke out the side of the line. If this happens, simply pull the needle back and redirect it. Going slow is the key. Otherwise, one trick I found to keep the needle from poking back out the braid prematurely is to have the hollow braid hanging straight down to the floor so that everything is pointing in a straight line and thread in that direction.
This is where the clamps come in handy. Simply secure the line
Once you've threaded a sufficient length into the hollow braid, poke the needle back out and pull it through until your leader material is exposed. Remove the needle leaving just the leader material poking out of the braid. Then pull the bunched braid back over the leader material until the leader material just pops back into the braid. Make sure there are no sharp or strange edges on the end of the leader material concealed within the braid. I do this by making a fresh cut of the line before concealing it back inside the braid or cutting the line fresh at the very beginning before sliding the leader into the hollow needle.
There are several methods to secure this end of the line. I use
the tag end to finish off beginning with a few loops further down the leader
Then it's a matter of smoothing the hollow braid back over the leader material and tying some kind of finish knot at the end of the braid to hold it in place just in case the line goes slack. This connection only works when both sides of the line are in tension, so if you don't have a finish knot of some sort the braid can bunch up enough to where it will catch in your reel's line guide or a guide on your rod, and your leader will fly out of the hollow braid leaving you a nest the size an eagle or osprey could nest in. Not that this has ever happened to me of course - it actually has.
I then load the remaining tag end onto the winder bringing the
tool all the way up to the line
There are many methods to secure the end of the braid to your leader material. One of the simplest methods is to tie a simple nail knot finished with some crazy glue. But remember that three foot tag end I left at the beginning? I like to use that and serve a knot back over the braid with the bobbin winder. You accomplish this by threading the tag end of the hollow braid onto the winder, and taking up all the slack until the winder is up against the braid. Then it's a matter of winding the tag end around the leader first, away from your reel for about an inch.
Then spin it around the line back towards your reel creating a
knot that looks something like this
Once you've managed that, you begin spinning the bobbin around the line back in the direction towards the reel. Continue until you've wound the line back over the braid for about an inch or so, hold it tight, then pull the rest of the line back off the winder. You can then secure the end with a series of alternating half hitches (the general recommendation is three in each direction) finished with an unraveled uni knot. Sometimes, I'll just tie one half hitch to secure the line and then just go straight to the unraveled uni knot.
After your alternating half hitches (overhand knots), tie a
uni-knot but do not pull it tight
Instead, take the loop and wind it in the opposite direction of
the uni-loops sort of unraveling it. This causes the line to knot up closer to
where you're pinching
Unraveled uni knot? Yes, I know. I can't seem to find an official name for this knot, so that's what I'm calling it. You begin by tying a uni-knot with your line looping back towards the serve. 5 loops will do. Then pinch the end of the knot closest to the serve. The loop should then be pointing towards your reel. Take that loop, and wind it back around the line in the direction that seems to unravel the loops you just made - should be 5 times if you made 5 loops. This will bunch the uni-knot up against where you're pinching the line. When you're done, pull the tag end of the knot back through your fingers until tight, snug it up, trim off the excess and use a dot of crazy glue to kind of keep the knot in place and take down any fuzzies from the end of the braided line.
Then, slowly pull the tag end while you're still pinching the
line, cinch it tight and cut off the tag as close to the line as possible.
Finish with some Crazy Glue and you're done!
If using the hollow braid itself to serve the knot back over the end seems wasteful, you can also use any spare braid you have laying around to accomplish the same task. It's just a little more difficult getting the knot started and spinning in the right direction. At least it is for me. But this is also helpful strategy if you've discovered you didn't leave a long enough tag line from the hollow braid to wind onto your bobbin or serving jig.
If you prefer to start at the end of the hollow braid so as to
minimize waste or don't leave enough tag end to complete the serve knot, there's
You can simply use any spare braid you have laying around and
serve that around the end too
It's a little more difficult to get started, but looks something
like this when you're done
Real World Tests: In the end, I was able to stretch two spools across four reels with this setup. I managed to distribute that 100 yard spool of 40lb Hollow Ace over two reels; the afore mentioned Metanium 151B using a leader of 15lb Seaguar Tatsu, and my 2017 Scorpion DC using a leader of 16lb Sunline Crank FC (0.336mm). I also managed to load my Daiwa DEPS DR-Z2020XHL and my 2018 Ryoga 1520L with the 60lb Hollow Ace and inserted a leader of 20lb Sunline Super Natural in both.
One of four reels I set up with this line, my 2018 Daiwa Ryoga
Casting: I had the Scorpion DC reel paired up with a first generation Edge Rods Black Widow 787-1 flipping stick. This rod features a triggerless reel seat wrapped with very small, but not quite micro-sized, titanium framed guides with SiC inserts in a spiral configuration. This is a guide train that's rather unforgiving to any connection knot I'm able to tie. When used with this guide train, you hear the typical, tick-tick-tick-tick-tick as that knot hits each guide on the way out. Well, thanks to there being virtually no connection knot on this setup with Hollow Ace, the line literally flies through the guides effortlessly as if they were one. The hollow braid is super limp and easy handling very much along the lines of something like Samurai braid. That super thin coating, if there even really is a coating, is not noticeable at all while you're fishing and certainly does not flake off the line.
My 2017 Scorpion DC set up with 40lb Hollow Ace and a 16lb
Sunline Crank FC leader