Reviewed by Tony Dawson
Daiwa X4 J-Braid; Quality Braid for the Cost Conscious.
Fishing line products out of Japan have always been quality merchandise, and the range of Daiwa braids over recent years haven’t disappointed. High quality braided line with 12 strands (or carriers) were recently re-invented and arrived on our shores as X8 J-Braid, and they’ve now arrived as yet another reincarnation … X4 J-Braid.
It’s less costly to manufacture braided polyethylene line, as the number of strands in the braiding process is reduced. The benefit is therefore a lower price for quality braided line, utilising the same proven technology to produce lines with fewer carriers.
I knew there was a spool of the new X4 line headed my way just a day or two before Christmas; I hoped it would make it before the holiday break shut down parcel deliveries and that I’d be able to spool a reel and fish with it consistently over the summer. It was among one or two other early Christmas presents, and in a quiet moment I swapped out the X8 J-Braid on my Silver Creek reel for the X4. There were three things on my mind as I spooled the reel with the high-vis PE #1 line: comparison, performance and economy.
Comparison because I’d fished the Silver Creek finesse combo with X8 J-Braid ever since I first acquired it, so I felt a direct playoff with the X4 was going to create some fairly strong first impressions … by comparison.
Performance because what I need is a strong, thin, easily-managed casting braid for spinning reels which will stand the test of time.
And economy because this line is touted as the economy version of the X8 J-Braid; high performance at an economy price; it’s beginning to compete with quality nylon monofilament lines on price.
As I loaded the X4, first impressions were that it was perceptibly more textured, and coarser than the X8 ... just what you’d expect from a braid with fewer strands. It was slightly stiff with a waxy, slippery finish, and it was bright yellow to look at. (The X4 is currently only available in yellow and multi-colour.) I’ve never been a big fan of hi-vis lines since much of my fishing tends to be in fresh water, for trout and salmon, but there are plenty of benefits to good visibility, especially for softbaiters and jigging proponents. Hi-vis gives very good indications of activity at the pointy end of things as it lies on or is entering the water, and for jigging it gives an accurate depth indication with its multi-coloured 10 metre sections.
The line on the reel was a fine 8lb-rated PE #1 line, just as the X8 had been. A round-shaped braid which makes for even spool lay and ease of casting, the 8lb line measures just 0.13mm in diameter. A home workshop test of actual breaking strain produced a break at the knots at 8lbs and at around 10 lbs for a straight pull without knots – enough to provide plenty of confidence.
The principal aspect of braided lines that perhaps makes them a success or otherwise from an angler’s viewpoint is the ease with which they cast and can be retrieved, and the continued absence of wind knots, tip wraps and tangles … in short, line management. This aspect is also largely a direct result of the coating that is applied to the braid at manufacture – and how durable and enduring it is; how long it lasts and remains effective.
Line coatings (usually a silicone polymer) perform several important functions when applied to braided lines; they keep the fibres within the braid compact and the diameter small. The contained fibres sheathed in a durable hard wearing coating are provided with abrasion protection, and the coating gives the line its properties of smoothness, stiffness and, to a degree, memory. Both the stiffness and memory (which braided fibres on their own don’t possess) give the line its ease of management and casting ability. Fluffy limp lines don’t cast well and are prone to all sorts of knots and tangles.
So far on quite a few outings to rivers and lakes and over the course of thousands of casts, the line has performed superbly. It really is an excellent casting line, possibly even better than the silkier and smoother X8 J-Braid. There’ve been no wind knots at all… nor tip wraps.
The first day I used the line was in a vexing 30 knot wind on the Oreti; no problems there at all. The coating is showing no signs of wearing or loss, and there’s no evidence of abrasion to the line, which also appears to be quite colour-fast. The trout don’t seem to mind the bright colour and I’m getting used to it as well – although, if there was a green option, I’d probably use that over the bright colour. There are no disappointments with performance, though.
Of course, the whole reason behind having a four-carrier line available as well as the eight-strand option is economy. The X4 is one third less than the price of the same quantity and line weight in X8 for little or no reduction, as far as I can tell, in performance. I’m in no hurry to change the line over; I’m going to tackle big trout and salmon with this stuff at the hydro canals before the summer ends, and I’ll have no reservations in doing so.
X4 J-Braid has a recommended retail price of $19.99 for a 135m spool and $29.99 for a 300m spool of line. It’s good value.