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Reel lines - para cord vs. dyneema?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Mr. X

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Jul 14, 2005
I was wondering what folk use for reel line these days and why?

Miles used quite thick Dyneema or para (parachute) cord, 2mm or 3mm I think. Not just because he dealt with big South African fish but because it is easier on the hands.

I have a 50m spool of black speckled 1.8mm Dyneema (the diameter I use for wishbones) but am thinking of buying a 100m spool of cheap Chinese para-cord (i.e. nowhere near MIL-spec) off Amazon. 2mm, 3mm or 4mm (oddly the thicker cords are often cheaper), probably 3mm. As Miles observed, para-cord is easier on the hands and about a quarter of the price of Dyneema (for the cheaper non MIL-spec. variety). I would add that it is also easier to cut, for example with a knife in an emergency. I don't anticipate needing the superior strength of Dyneema. Nor the extra capacity offered by finer lines.

I think I would prefer a thicker (hand friendly), brighter (easier to see), softer (easier to cut), cheaper line. The lower capacity of a thicker line seems quite appealing too, I dislike tangles.

Any thoughts, advice, insights? Am I looking at this all wrong?
I think you thought of about everything. I just think that paracord is softer and tends to tangle more, but its probavbly been about 40 years since I used it.

When I used reels I used a 3 mm dyneemna that I got from Masahiro Mori in Los Angeles. It was easy to grab but my Riffe reel only held about 110 feet. That would probably be plenty for you though. I don't know if he still sells it but I'm pretty sure he got it from some British cord maker anyway. I just can't recall the name now but its a big name in marine ropes and cord.

Last year when I bought an Ulusub gun I got the reel with it, just because it would provide more ballast even though I would use a float line, and I like the line that came with it. It's 2.2 mm and has a dyneema sheath over mono. Although I haven't used it, its nice and stiff and would seem very resistant to tangling. Its not cheap though and may be overkill for you.

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Thanks Bill. Would regular monofilament work? I have quite a lot in diameters from 1.5mm to 2.5mm. I figured it would likely be too stiff to sit on the reel.
I think mono would be hard to grab. It would slip through your fingers.
Many of the Chinese para-cords I've come across seem a bit dodgy re. Materials, weave quality, strength - some are made of shorter cords weakly fused together apparently. Some of the American-appearing ones look better but you really need to check the details and they are significantly more expensive. Few are all nylon. Most are 3 or 4mm :(

I've come across some cords that look more promising: "2mm throwlines" intended for arborists/ tree surgeons I think. Most made in GB, a few Chinese. 2 GB companies stand out on Google: Marlow and Stein. They are available on 50m minispools. The cheaper ones are mostly rated 80-99kg i.e about 200lb. The more expensive ones are Dyneema, twice the price and more than twice the strength - similar to Dyneema spearfishing lines.
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I’m pretty sure that Marlow made the 3 mm dyneema reel line that Mori sold. I think he became a dealer so he could get it at wholesale prices.
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Waveline also make 3mm Dyneema. I also use it as boot laces as it bites well when a knot is tied and lasts.
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Trying to decide between: 1.8mm, 2mm, 2.5mm or 3mm para-cord. The hole in my reel's metal line guide is 4mm.

I estimate the capacity of the reel to be about 30m-35m of 1.8mm cord, probably similar for 2mm. Maybe 25m of 3mm?

I don't dive real deep, nor encounter very large/powerful fish, so maybe it doesn't matter much. I've seen a 3mm line that looks quite good but perhaps overkill? Good price if you buy 100m though. Less line to tangle up? :D
If you don't dive deep or shoot big fish that would take all your line, I'd go for 3 mm. It's easier to handle and not as likely to dig into the line underneath it.
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For what its worth, here is what 3 mm spectra looks like on a couple of reels.


  • 2reels3mm2.JPG
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That's great Bill, exactly what I wanted to know. I noticed that the 1.8mm para-cord I used to estimate reel capacity dug in quite badly, probably bad enough to lock the reel negating its benefit.

BTW Do you use a supplementary belt reel when using a speargun reel? I see Dan Man does in his youtube videos and he had to use it in one video when his speargun reel locked up, thereby saving his speargun, spear and the fish. I gather that it is not unusual for a spearo is loose a speargun before investing in a supplementary belt reel :(
No, I never used a belt reel. I suppose that in most situations in which I might shoot something in open water that was big enough to take my gun, I was using a breakaway float line and float. Otherwise, that's why I carry a knife on my forearm where I hope to got to in time to cut the line.

My belt is already pretty crowded with all the weight I have to wear along with a Carter float. I'd hate to add more stuff to it.
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Mr X, be careful of the material the line is made of. I recently discovered that some of what is on the market is polyester. It does not hold a knot nearly as well as the other material options.
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Thanks hteas. I know what you mean but actually I knowingly bought an all polyester paracord. Yes, traditional paracords were nylon. As a former rock climber, I am familiar with and like nylon (or "perlon"). It stretches, absorbing shocks, which can be handy but it sinks in seawater, at least climbing ropes do. I like stretchy nylon fishing lines too.

I too notice that some modern paracords are all nylon, others all polyester and yet others a combination of the two. I too found non-nylon options unappealing at first. I figured polyester ropes are quite different to nylon: usually cheaper, sometimes much cheaper, non- stretchy, float in seawater and often stiffer. I use polyester ropes as float lines for those very reasons.

The Nitehawk polyester paracord I chose looks a bit stiffer and tighter woven than most paracords I've seen. I think it will float too. I think those could be good attributes, reducing tangles but I could be wrong, and maybe it won't sit well on the reel, for example. It comes with quite a hefty breaking strain (350lb- ish I think). They claim it knots well (stiff, non-stretchy cords usually don't, so perhaps that claim is misleading?) and you can melt the ends ok ( can be an issue with some Dyneema/Spectra/Kevlar cords). And it was cheap per metre and a nice, easy to see colour and with a pattern that will help it match the speargun I plan to try it on first, my Apnea ST. :)

I'll let you know how I get on.
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Apnea New Gen Reel loaded with Nitehawk, all polyester, 3mm para-cord. The sheath is fairly tightly woven but is quite loose around the cord fibres. Seemed to go on and spool pretty well. If you need a lot of line though, 2mm line would make more sense but ok for my needs I think. Quite chunky.

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Always good fun to try things out but I think you might find such a cumbersome accessory more of a handicap than a benefit.
I will be interested in your views once you have given it a few water trials....
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:) Yes, I was already coming to that conclusion. What a pain in the a***. Just more hassle, expense, complication, weight, drag! :D. But you're also right that I just want to try it out. To see if I can find any benefit to it, for UK conditions. Do you ever use one Foxfish?

I've only ever seen 3 really big fish in UK waters, one of those extremely big - not sure what it was, it looked reminiscent of a drum/croaker as best I can recall, it was some years ago. A reel would not have helped with any of them, or any other fish I have encountered do far.

BTW I watched quite a few spearfishing videos over the winter ( for me, British winter starts in November and ends near the start of April, hence mid-summer is in June ;) ). I've seen all types of spearguns, including a variety of roller spearguns. Although one or two spearos seem to specialize in long, accurate shots, one of the things that struck me is that most of the shots were taken at short or very short range, when almost any speargun one have done the job - for example a moderately powerful, single band speargun, e.g. a 90cm RA Sparid or Scorpia/Omer Cayman/Cressi Pacific. Surprised how many folk use, long, powerful spearguns (e.g. 100cm+ roller or double band speargun) to shoot holed up fish, most often grouper/merou or bream.
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I did try out a reel for one season but found no further use for it and yes I absolutely agree a single band 75 and a single band 90 is all you are ever going to need for 99% of the time.
However a hobby is all about having fun for me and trying out all the options is all part of it.
Shooting fish in holes with big guns or shooting flatfish that are lying on, or buried in the sand, has always made my cringe when I see it happen .
I know I am just repeating myself but for me the most important aspect for my guns, is to be nicely balanced .
I find holding a muzzle heavy gun very tiresome and irritating, it really puts me off and stops me concentrating on hunting.
The same with bulky difficult to manoeuvre guns or ones with extra bits that get in the way and that is why I love my airguns.
So are you guys saying that all you need is the shooting line attached to the gun? I can see how that would be simple if the fish aren’t big enough to take the gun away from you but do you ever shoot a fish in a hole or in kelp and find that you have to turn loose of the gun to reach the surface? That could be dicey in poor visibility and strong current. It might be hard to find the gun again.
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