A braid we’ve been fishing with a lot lately is Berkley X9. Pitched as a mid-price braid the packaging information tells us its designed for maximum strength, smooth operation, also casting distance.
X9 comes in a wide range of sizes from 4lbs right up to 100lbs and is available in spool sizes 150m, 300m, and bulk spools carrying 2000m, the latter aimed mainly at shops for spooling up reels in bulk. UK anglers will be most interested in the 15lb, 20lb, 30lb, 50lb and 80lb sizes. It comes in Low Vis Green, Crystal (white), and a Fluoro Green. We’ve fished with both the green and the crystal using the green over rougher ground and when boat ground fishing, with the crystal preferred for general shore fishing and when working lures.
There’s something different about X9! Braids are typically 8-carrier lines meaning they have eight main strands to form the line. Berkley X9 has nine individual main strands made from 100% PE fibres, so is a 9-carrier line, hence the name. This gives the line a greater suppleness and increases its smooth exit off the reel spool and through the rod rings.
PE is important to understand. Most braid fishing lines are made using Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene fibres. It’s how the strands of fibres are formed together that produces braids of different feel and character. PE is an abbreviated name for the polyethylene. The PE value is used purely to measure the polyethylene line’s diameter. This is based on the Japanese numbering system referred to as “gouw”, this being the original way silk thread was gauged. In relation to fishing line’s, it has nothing to do with the breaking strain though, as this is subject to the quality of the fibres used, the number of strands such as 4-carrier, 8-carrier etc., but also how the braiding process is used to form the single main strands. The more carriers there are, generally, the better the braid is. Manufacturers producing quality braids tend to rate their lines ten times the PE rating, so a five x PE would equate to a 25lb or more breaking strain line.
Straight from the spool, the Berkley X9 is thin in diameter, the 30lb being quoted as just 0.20mm. It’s very limp and feels both softish and smooth to the touch. We loaded the 30lb onto a Penn Slammer III fixed spool reel and the braid sits neat and compact on the spool.
Knotting ability is really important to us, so we tried knotting the X9 to mono and fluorocarbon leaders using a modified Albright knot and found it knots well, the knot tightening neatly and with maximum grip under heavy pressure. We also tied it directly to heavier braid using back-to-back Grinner knots, and it proved strong, plus closed neatly into a tight and compact knot.
Fishing and casting ability
From the very first cast using 20lb X9 on the Slammer reel, you can feel how smooth the line leaves the spool and spool lip and how it travels through the rod rings in mid cast with minimal noise due to the smooth and supple nature of this braid. We loaded the reel just a tad deeper than 1/8th below the spool lip and had no issues with wind knots.
Bite detection is, as always with braid, excellent. Small school bass at long-range gave a solid, no-nonsense bite that gets you thinking the fish is bigger. The Berkley X9 also leaves the spool cleanly when the drag comes in to use.
During a heavy retrieve the line comes in through the rod rings smoothly and without effort. It does not grate through the rod as some lesser braids do.
Even after very heavy and prolonged use, there was little in the way of major abrasion, just the odd small hairs lifting off the surface, which is typical of every well used and abused braid we’ve ever used.
We also loaded Berkley X9 on to a Penn Fathom 15 2-speed multiplier used for wrecking for pollack with lures, general downtide fishing, and drift fishing over snaggy ground. Again, bite detection is excellent, and there is no real sign of the braid digging into itself on the spool after it has been retrieved under very heavy rod pressure.
This is an exceptional braid that is far more versatile than the spool packaging suggests. We’re happy to use this braid for working lures for bass and bait fishing for mullet with a light leader, for surf and estuary fishing, but also with both multipliers and fixed spool reels for all forms of boat fishing.
- 9-carrier braid
- Made from 100% PE fibres
- Thin diameter
- Smooth surface finish
- Excellent knotting ability