Is SpiderWire's Ultracast Ultra-Good?
Total Score: 7.50 -
There are so many different fishing line products out there today, how does one ever decide which line to use when in the mood to try something new. Sure, I have a few staples that I rely upon if needed, but as a TackleTour editor, I have a certain responsibility to test the market from time to time. Trouble is, fishing line is such an important component of your combo, I need to know I can trust the line I'm using not to break unexpectedly when fishing one of my $200 baits (and believe me, it's happened), so how do I make that decision?
Not surprisingly, it is a process. For braid, the first step in that process is being available in a color I can fish. That more or less eliminates any braid that's only available in dark green. It sounds silly, and vain, but
I like having options for varying conditions. At times I am so weary of new gear that my combo (rod, reel, and line) needs to hold my interest when I look at it in my hands. In the case of a braided line, I've found it helps if there's a camo colored option of some sort. I like how camo colored lines break up the monotony when you look down at your reel. On a recent search for interesting, camo colored lines, I came across SpiderWire's Ultracast X8 in Aqua Camo, so I ordered some
Tackle Warehouse to check out.
SpiderWire Ultracast X8 Braid Specifications
||8 carrier, polyethylene (PE) braid
||Aqua Camo, White(invisible), Moss Green, Inshore Camo
|Line Weights Fished
||$36.99 per 328yd Spool
Background: SpiderWire describes Ultracast X8 as being made with 100% polyethylene fibers. Where some manufacturers use a branded polyethylene product like Spectra, Dyneema, or other, SpiderWire is likely relying upon their own formulation or another non-trademarked brand. They go on to describe the line is made with a cold-fusion process to enhance the line's resistance to abrasion. It is available in strengths from eight to sixty five pound (8-65lb test) and three color options.
This aqua camo may be my favorite braid color of all time
Impressions: SpiderWire's three hundred meter (300m) filler spool of Ultracast X8 comes in typical packaging with no special clips on the spool to secure the tag end of unused line. The line itself has a nice, round feel to it as you run it through your fingers, but the fifty (50) pound test did feel a little larger in diameter than what I had been accustomed to in similarly rated line. To check on this first impression, I hit the lab and pulled out the micro-meter to check the line's diameter.
Ultracast has a medium body fresh off the spool
On the packaging, SpiderWire rates 50lb Ultracast as 0.29mm in diameter which would be perfect. Our historical average diameter for 50lb braided line is 0.31mm, so statistically, Ultracast is right in line with what we'd expect. Unfortunately, taking the average of five spot measurements through the length of about four feet of line, I came up with an average of 0.366mm validating that first impression that the line felt thicker than normal. Our historical data for twenty (20) pound test is not that extensive but on the packaging, Ultracast lists theirs as 0.15mm and I measured it at 0.248mm. Going by SpiderWire's website, this would put our two spools at somewhere between 65-80 pound test for the 0.366mm and between 40-50lb test for the 0.248mm. Unfortunately, not a great first impression.
Ready for some big bait action
Real World Tests: Despite my disappointment in these actual diameters, I spooled up both the 50 and 20 pound test Ultracast lines onto my Daiwa 2018 Ryoga 1520L-CC and my 2020 Shimano Stradic FL respectfully. I also tied a fluorocarbon leader onto each as a mitigation measure against line shy fish given each line's extra-large diameter.
Even though the 20lb has more of a 45 pound diameter, a six pound
fluorocarbon leader helped minimize issues with line diameter
Casting: SpiderWire's Ultracast X8 has a very smooth feel and is just a tad stiff coming off the filler spool leading me to believe there is some kind of coating on the line. Fortunately this coating is not excessive and allows the line to come off both spinning and casting gear very easily for good casting performance. In fact, I never gave the line a second thought while making a cast, so that's a good indication Ultracast behaves normally in this regard.
Ultracast has a very smooth texture
Abrasion: Being on the smooth side of the spectrum, Ultracast is well suited for presentations around docks, rocks, and other hard surfaces where it easily slides back and forth giving you a good degree of resistance against abrasion. The wider diameter certainly helps in this aspect as well, but even if you move down in strength, to fish a more appropriate diameter, I'd expect this line to perform competitively with other similar braids.
Fraying the end to check out the fibers
Of course, smoother braids have a little tougher time cutting through softer vegetation, but it's all relative. Ultracast is still better at cutting through vegetation than any fluorocarbon or nylon monofilament. It's just not as good as something line Sunline's FX2 braid in this area. Then again, I don't think there's an 8 strand braid available that cuts through vegetation better than FX2.
Ultracast is relatively quiet through the guides
Noise: Another area where the smoother braids like Ultracast have an advantage is in how noisy they are when coming through your guides. Rather, how noisy they aren't compared to other braids with a coarser surface. While it is not completely silent (we've yet to fish a braid that is), Ultracast performs well in this area too. Its relatively smooth finish is not a distraction as you retrieve your bait or battle with a fish.