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Product Insight - Lines


Ready to Level Up Your Finesse Braid Game? Introducing Varivas


Date: 5/18/22
Tackle Type: Line
Manufacturer: Varivas
Reviewer: Cal



Introduction: The amount of tackle we see each year can be overwhelming. So much so, that not every piece we string up, spool, tie on, or tune makes it to actual review status. In addition, contrary to popular belief, not every article on the pages of TackleTour is an actual review. Many are what we call previews or simply product announcements. We also have autopsies, event articles and more. The most rare are pieces that delve into a product but fall just short of a review. These "insight" articles are more detailed than a preview not as action packed and full of carnage as an autopsy, but not considered a review because there is no score involved. Today is such an occasion. With our unofficial, official focus on bait finesse tackle this year, here is a look at some premium finesse braid by Varivas Japan.


Solving the complexity of presenting finesse techniques with casting gear is a challenge I've undertaken for the past 20 years


Background: I've spent the last several years discovering the line set up that works best for me when tossing big baits. I grew tired of having all that dead, tired, and coily monofilament go to waste at the bottom of my fishing reel spools and wanted to level up. Through trial and error, I settled on the strategy of using a hollow braid mainline with a fluorocarbon or nylon monofilament leader of varying diameter depending on the baits I intend to throw. I've carried over this strategy to my conventional setups by going standard braid plus leader. I like how this strategy allows me to tune my leader choices without respooling an entire reel. This in turn extends the life of those costly, high end spools of mainline and leader material with the side benefit of virtually eliminating issues with line memory and dead line at the bottom of the reel.


Taking my 2003 Aldebaran BFS out of retirement to check out Varivas's Super Trout Advance Double Cross x8 (gou #0.8)


This year's official, unofficial focus on Bait Finesse System (BFS) has found me carrying over this same strategy to my finesse combos. Because my connection knot game needs serious work and those spools on BFS reels are so shallow, up until now, I stuck with the strategy of simply spooling a straight shot of high end fluorocarbon on these reels. No more. I decided it was finally time to take a look at finesse braid, and once I started down this rabbit hole, it was obvious one brand was hosting the tea party in this wonderland of polyethylene (PE) product.


Varivas Nagoles Dead or Alive Ultra Power Finesse x8 (gou #0.8)spooled on my Conquest BFS with a top shot of 7lb Maboroshi FC


Varivas High Grade x4 on my Daiwa Gekka Bijin


Line Rating: Before we get to that, we need to take a look at line ratings. Here in the US, we've been conditioned to rely upon strength ratings when choosing our line yet many line manufacturers are notorious for incorrectly labeling their lines. Case in point, when one manufacturer's 20lb test monofilament is the same diameter as another's 30lb, it's time to take note and ask some questions like is that product really weaker? If so, why would you want to use it? Or is it really 30lb and the manufacturer wants to give you the impression their line is extra strong by incorrectly labeling it? A more prudent method of choosing your fishing line is to look at the diameter first. Not only is this the only true way to conduct an apples to apples comparison between different product, but it is what ultimately determines how much line you can fit on your reel. This approach is especially critical given the super shallow spools on casting reels tuned for finesse applications. Even then comparisons are difficult because some manufacturers the metric system while others imperial units to list diameters. How do you keep it all straight?


Well, it's finally time to level up my line setups with this gear


Of course in Japan, they've already tackled this obstacle by developing their own metric known as gou (also spelled goh) to serve as an independent unit of measure denoting the diameter of a fishing line product (most commonly used with polyethylene braid). Rated breaking strength at any given Gou will vary depending on the strength of material and overall composition of the line, but once familiar with the system, using Gou removes the back and forth translation between millimeters and inches and gives you a better approximation of how much line you can fit on those super shallow spools. Lastly, because the steps between gou ratings are so small at the lower end, it's just more simple and intuitive - once you've grown accustomed.


Japanese Gou Rating Chart
Gou (#)
Dia (mm)
Approx Strength (~lb = gou x 40)
Approx Mono equivalent (lb)
Seaguar Tatsu Comparison (lb/mm)
4 / 0.173
6 / 0.209
8 / 0.239
12 / 0.292
15 / 0.344
22 / 0.385
25 / 0.405


That's the trick though, isn't it? Wrapping your head around yet another rating system for fishing line. It helps if you think of gou in the same manner as the gauge unit of measure for wire. I found several depictions of the information provided in the table above laying out gou as it compares to diameter in millimeters, approximate breaking strength of PE line (again this will vary depending on material and composition), and what might be the equivalent strength nylon monofilament in that same diameter. The very last column is something I added to provide real world data on rated strength and actual, measured diameter of a fishing line product we use a lot here at TackleTour, Seaguar's Tatsu fluorocarbon.

A comparison of diameters from top to bottom: Nogales Dead or Alive x4 #0.6, Super Trout Infinity x8 #0.2, Seaguar Tatsu 4lb (0.173mm), High Grade PE x4 #0.8, Super Trout Advance Double Cross #0.8. By this view, it appears 4lb Tatsu is closer in diameter to #0.2, but the finger test verifies all these lines are thinner than the 4lb Tatsu. Fluorocarbon is just difficult to photograph

Why go through the trouble? Because finesse braid is all about the gou rating system and understanding what the system is and where it came from will enable you to make better choices when going this route. When using larger diameter lines, there is a lot of room on most reels' spools for error. When dealing with bait finesse, those margins are gone. This is a very technical method of fishing requiring specialized equipment and good understanding of everything right down to your choice in fishing line.

Varivas offers a dizzying array of finesse braid product

Varivas: Established in 1980, Varivas is Japan's first fishing line company to have a product rated by the IGFA. They make fresh and saltwater line to support techniques ranging from fly to general casting to saltwater jigging and more. Their catalog is full of a dizzying array of product and yet, it is not widely distributed here in the States. Not that this is any big surprise since there are still many JDM brands and product we cannot easily get here in the states. However, with Varivas, the fact it's not widely distributed does not mean you cannot still get it here stateside.


Initial Varivas Finesse Braid Line Installations

Reel Varivas Product Strength (gou) Approx Amount Leader
Shimano Conquest BFS Nogales x8


90yds 7lb Maboroshi
2003 Shimano Aldebaran BFS Super Trout Advance x8 #0.6 Failed to record 6lb Tatsu
Daiwa Gekka Bijin High Grade x4 #0.8 50yds 7lb Maboroshi


Thanks to Varivas America, these avenues are opening up including the ability to buy direct through their website. This is where I found myself earlier this year as I dove into available finesse braid product. However, I came to a full stop on their website where I was overwhelmed by all the different product. After a day or two of contemplation, I chose two paths forward. One was to contact Varivas America directly through email and ask for suggestions, and another was to contact a good friend who shall remain anonymous, but is gifted in his knowledge and expertise of all things JDM because he is from Japan and still very connected. Through that effort, here are some initial impressions of finesse braid options from Varivas I'm currently fishing.

Nogales Dead or Alive Ultra Power Finesse PE x8

Nogales Dead or Alive Ultra Power Finesse PE x8 : Available in five different diameters at approximate strength values from sixteen through thirty seven pounds, Varivas's Nogales Dead or Alive Ultra Power Finesse PE x8 is what Varivas refers to as a tournament grade fishing line. It features a fluororesin coating to reduce guide friction and improve casting distance. Run between the fingers, it feels like a fluorocarbon or some kind of copoly and not a braid. Even better, that coating doesn't flake off or seem to wear very much. I'm fishing the #0.8 on my Conquest BFS paired with an NRX 852C JWR and through a handful of trips can say it handles well and holds a connection knot to my leader very securely.

Super Trout Advance Double Cross x8

Super Trout Advance Double Cross x8 : This line is designed for river and mountain stream fishing where current and wind are a factor. It is a hybrid line featuring polyethylene and polyester (ester) fibers together in an 8 strand braid with higher specific gravity than water so it has sinking characteristics. Like other sinking braids I've fished, that slightly more dense composition makes the line more manageable. Similar to the Nogales, the color and coating doesn't seem to flake or fade. It's available in two colors and in only two line ratings. I'm currently fishing the #0.6 on my original Aldebaran BFS paired with a Megabass P5 Bait Finesse stick. This line is in early contention for my favorite of the group because of the way it handles. That extra bit of density from the inclusion of ester in its composition lets it fly off the spool with more intent, but maybe it's the centrifugal brakes on the Aldebaran BFS - more time is needed.

High-Grade PE x4 & x8

High-Grade PE x4 & x8 : Touted as more of an all purpose braid and available in both four and eight strand composition, this is the product I originally gravitated towards. It has a similar coating to the Nogales but so far, at least with the x4, doesn't handle as well and seems to fade with extended use - at least in the pink. I intend to line the x8 on a different reel to verify because the x4 is currently on my Daiwa Gekka Bijin and I want to be sure it's not the reel affecting my experience with the line (I just haven't been overly impressed with the Gekka Bijin). I'm still strategizing where to install the x8.

Area Super Trout Infinity PE x8

Area Super Trout Infinity PE x8 : Finesse applications reign supreme in Japan because the country's waterways all receive a very high amount of fishing pressure. Because of all that fishing pressure and activity, the fish become conditioned and are wise to fishermen's ways, so to be successful, anglers need to level up. Sachi Matsumoto is a renowned angler in Japan and worked with Varivas to develop their Super Trout Infinity PE x8. This line is available in only two diameters, gou #0.2 and #0.3. It is hair thin and colored brown and black. The particular shade of brown is believed to be somewhat invisible to a trout's vision (the target species).


This coloration of the Super Trout Infinity line is believed to be somewhat invisible to a trout's vision


Varivas America actually sent me this spool and at first, I was dumbstruck as to how to use it because it is so thin and the spool only contains seventy five meters (75m) of line. It is described as being designed for 'Ultra Finesse" techniques and retails for $55-$59 per spool depending on the gou. Knowing me, if I put the entire 75m of line on a reel, I'm going to spoil it with a backlash on my very first cast. So, considering it is so thin, I plan to use it as leader material - assuming I can get a connection knot to hold. Stay tuned to my Instagram (@caltackletour) where I intend to share results of this experiment.

The challenges and intricacies of having success using finesse techniques on casting gear is the ultimate challenge

Conclusion: One of the reasons that bass fishing is so popular is the countless ways you can catch these fish. Many anglers are content with sticking to one or two techniques and learning them inside out. Others enjoy the challenge of "what if..." As in what if I try this? The challenges and intricacies of having success using finesse techniques on casting gear is the ultimate challenge because there is no room for error. Nick in your line, bad knot somewhere, too powerful of a rod, incorrect drag setting, dull hooks - all of these potential errors are magnified when fishing finesse techniques. Then you add to this complexity by attempting to cast finesse baits casting gear.


I am looking forward to getting more time on the water with this line and upping my finesse braid game


I have countless rods and reels capable of this approach and have been doing so in pursuit of bass for close to twenty years now. It's taken me this long to finally zero in on the very last component of my arsenal to dial in - my line setup. Varivas's collection of finesse braid product is dizzying, confusing because of the long names, and all highly technical. Most of it was developed for anglers pursuing line shy trout. Bass are not as wary, but that's a harbinger for even better success. All of this is the perfect combination of factors to ignite my enthusiasm. I am looking forward to getting more time on the water with this line to refine my finesse line setups and will hopefully, eventually, report back with what I discover.


Interested in checking out Varivas's lineup of finesse braid?

Visit their website Varivas America









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