UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Product of the Year: Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon

Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.

Approximately one decade ago the Yamamoto Senko hit the market and transformed the bass-fishing industry. A few years later the shaky head and finesse worm had a similar effect. In 2005 Bryan Thrift introduced the ChatterBait, and in 2007 Jay Yelas won the FLW Tour Angler of the Year by throwing an under-the-radar swimbait. This season, no singular bait stood out. Instead, a fluorocarbon line was the product with the most profound impact.

It's no secret that Berkley is a sponsor of FLW Outdoors and has been for some time. But they also sponsor the Bassmaster Elite Series and manage a pro staff that spans both major tournament organizations. The selection of Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon as the Product of the Year has nothing to do with Berkley being a sponsor and everything to do with Trilene Fluorocarbon being an amazing product.

The benefits of fluorocarbon line are many. For starters, it is more invisible in the water due to its molecular structure and minimal light refraction. In theory, the more invisible your line is, the more bites you will receive. Fluorocarbon is also more abrasion resistant than monofilament line. An example of this would be skipping gnarly boat docks and cables. If a big largemouth darts in one direction and the National Guard co-angler Justin Lucas is a big believer in Trilene Fluorocarbon. line rubs against a piling, it is game over with monofilament.

Another illustration would be smallmouth fishing on a glacial lake like Champlain. Oftentimes the smallmouths are aggressive on Northern lakes, and anglers routinely sort through dozens of fish per day. You've just caught your sixth fish, and your instincts tell you it's time to retie. Using your thumb and index finger, you stroke the few inches of line just above your knot. Instead of feeling nicks and frays, you feel nothing but smooth line. That's the very real difference a good fluorocarbon can make.

Fluorocarbon also has better density, which means it sinks naturally with the bait. Mono and braid float, so there is always a slight bend in the line. In addition to the lifelike presentation, the fluorocarbon's density allows an angler to present baits deeper, a major advantage when throwing jerkbaits and crankbaits.

But the major shortcoming of fluorocarbon is that it is stiffer than mono, which makes it difficult to manage. A few unpleasant examples of this include backlashes, birds' nests and relentless twisting. In addition, many fluorocarbon lines lack the necessary impact strength to withstand a jolting hook set. There might not be any worse feeling in all of fishing than finally getting that key bite only to have your line immediately snap.

Berkley engineers get busy

Nearly 10 years ago, Berkley developed a relatively limp, smooth-casting fluorocarbon called Vanish. For anglers that frequently used subtle spinning gear, this was a better alternative than mono. But for die-hard bass anglers that used primarily baitcasting reels for flipping and power fishing, Vanish left a lot to be desired. But in all truthfulness, Vanish was never designed for those applications; it was essentially the XL of fluorocarbon.

New Jersey pro Michael Iaconelli used Trilene Fluorocarbon en route to a second-place finish at the Forrest Wood Cup.To that end, several big sticks on the Berkley pro staff started to lobby the company to formulate a fluorocarbon that could meet the rigors of big-time bass fishing. The names behind the push include Larry Nixon, Skeet Reese, Boyd Duckett, Michael Iaconelli and Jay Yelas. When anglers of this caliber talk, people listen. This push continued to gain steam and transformed from a polite request to a desperate plea.

"We've got a great pro staff that's really honest with us about our products," said Clay Norris, senior product manager for Berkley. "If it isn't working, we want to hear about it. What our pros kept telling us, kept begging us for, was a better fluorocarbon line engineered specifically for bass fishing. They were quite vocal."

With that "encouragement," the engineers and scientists at Berkley went back to the lab armed with ample feedback. In the months afterward, over 100 prototypes were produced. After weighing the benefits and limitations of each, that number was trimmed to only a handful - each having slightly different qualities. These "final" prototypes were then distributed to the Berkley pro staff for review.

Each angler gave their feedback individually, but the results were the same. One of the prototypes had the best balance - that model ended up becoming Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.

"The pros basically picked this product," added Norris. "We knew that Seaguar made a stiff, abrasion-resistant fluorocarbon line. Vanish was the opposite. This prototype was abrasion-resistant and smooth; we had our competitive set."

Although the pros were on board, considerable work had to be done until the product could be brought to market. One of those steps was using the line in a tournament where big money was on the line. To Berkleythe surprise of Berkley staffers, Duckett and Reese eagerly volunteered to try the prototype at the 2007 Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake. Incidentally, Duckett and Reese took first and second in the event, claiming $500,000 and $45,000, respectively.

"The fact that those two chose it for the Classic, we knew we had something," Norris said.

From there, the product first shipped in May 2007, and by June, was in select stores. By January 2008, it was included in catalogs and in mass distribution. Pros began using it in earnest during the 2008 tournament season, but with any new product, it was initially met with skepticism. As the season grew, word spread, and by the time 2009 came around, it was officially the worst-kept secret in the bass-fishing industry.

"It's been on the market less than two full years, and I suspect it's already the most used fluoro," Norris stated. "Our 15-pound-test has won over the baitcasting fishermen, and our 8- and 10-pound-test have won over those that employ spinning gear. In terms of sales, 2009 has been our peak year. In this economy, premium lines are generally down and economy lines are up. The exception is Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon - it continues to grow.

"When we introduced Vanish, we knew we weren't at the trust level to call it Trilene. To call this product Trilene really demonstrates both our confidence and our pros' confidence. It wasn't Trilene Fluorocarbon until the pros said it was."

Fox fixated on fluorocarbon

Travis Fox just completed his first year on the FLW Tour. As it does for most rookies, it started out rough. But in his last two tournaments, he cashed nice checks and earned his first tour-level top-10 finish. With that added confidence and experience, he is counting the days until the 2010 opener on the Red River.

Fox doesn't have a line sponsor and thus feels no obligation to use any particular product. Essentially, his opinion carries more credibility than the anglers that are on pro staffs. So when it comes time to spool his reels, what does he choose?
Pro Travis Fox holds up his kicker bass from day one on Kentucky Lake.
"Berkley Trilene Fluorocarbon is on every single one of my rods except two," said Fox. "I don't have it tied on my topwater rod because the line sinks, and I like braid on my spinnerbait rod."

Fox lives in Lowell, Ark., and frequently fishes the many clear Ozark impoundments nearby. Initially he started using Trilene Fluorocarbon on jigs and finesse presentations.

"Two of my friends and I were fishing a Stren Series tournament last year on Lake of the Ozarks. All three of us got our butts kicked in by our co-anglers - three pros and three co-anglers throwing a brown jig under a boat dock. I mean a brown jig is a brown jig. We all wondered what our co-anglers were doing different? We talked about it, and they were all using Trilene Fluorocarbon.

"That's where it started it for me. I noticed in one day that it had the perfect balance. It was invisible in the water, it was abrasion-resistant, it had the right amount of stretch, it provided good knot strength, and it was sensitive. It just had every single property I was looking for. When I started fishing fluorocarbon about seven or eight years ago, I went through every brand. At one point, I was convinced Seaguar was the only fluorocarbon line worth a damn. I would like some qualities on one, but not on others. Maybe the sensitivity was good, but the impact strength wasn't there."

Needless to say, Fox was hesitant at first to try the new Berkley product. In the past, he's put a fresh spool of fluorocarbon on a spinning reel only to have 100 feet instantaneously shoot off the bail. Now he uses nothing but 8-pound-test on his spinning reels. But Fox notices Trilene Fluorocarbon excelling the most when he's cranking.

"I will not throw a crankbait on mono anymore. And that's because of the sensitivity fluorocarbon provides. You've got to feel what is going on down there."

At the FLW Tour event on Kentucky and Barkley lakes, Fox threw a crankbait on 12-pound Trilene Fluorocarbon. The result was a fifth-place finish and $20,000.

"I was fishing mussel beds, and with the fluorocarbon you could feel the beds. I could tell my co-angler exactly when I was going to get a bite. I would be fishing and going through the sand and the muck, and then you feel the shell bed on the bill of your crankbait. Then I'd tell my co-angler to get ready."

Moreover, Fox said the fluorocarbon gets his crankbaits deeper.

"It's just not buoyant like mono. There is a noticeable difference when you're fishing a deep-diving crankbait, like a DD-22. If I'm fishing a point or a ledge in 15 feet of water, I know I can hit the bottom. And with mono, that bait will only run about 12 feet deep. It gets your bait down deeper, and it gets it down faster."

Fox's testimonial is backed by concrete tournament data. Of the six FLW Tour qualifiers in 2009, four were won on Trilene Fluorocarbon as was the Angler of the Year award.

"I can fish whatever brand of line I want," Fox added. "I've actually had line sponsors approach me with deals. But I would rather pay full price for Berkley Trilene Fluorocarbon. I think they hit the nail on the head."

Indeed they did, and that's why it's the 2009 Product of the Year.

Tags: brett-carlson  tech-tackle-reviews 


FLW Podcast 128 - Mark Rose



1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update



1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST



2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »


Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »


5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin



Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »


Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »


2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »


FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »


FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer



Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »


Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »


Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »


How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »


Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »


Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »