Everything you wanted to know about string, but were afraid to ask

By Tom Bianchi

What kind of string or line should you use with your lure coursing equipment?  You're probably thinking that the subject of string could be classified as MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.  Hey, string is string, right?   Well... maybe.   First we will examine the various types of line available for our purpose.

String is manufactured out of a broad range of materials.  The two most commonly used materials for string used in lure coursing are nylon and polyester.  Polyester is often referred to using the trademark of Dacron.  The two basic methods of fabricating fibers into a cord or string are twisting or braiding.   Twisted string is fabricated by rotating two or more parallel strands of material around an axis in one direction.   The braiding of string is accomplished by passing each strand of material over and then under the other strands while rotating in the same direction.  We have never used a twisted line and therefore it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the use of this type of line. We do know that some clubs and individuals use a twisted string and we would appreciate hearing from anyone having experience using such a line.  So, for the remainder of this article, we will be discussing the various characteristics of braided string.









































The next consideration when selecting a string is the size.   This can be designated as the diameter stated in a fraction or decimal equivalent of an inch or a manufacturers size number with an approximate pound test (approximate strength) being indicated. The information shown in TABLE A is a comparison of the specifications given by three manufacturers (who shall remain nameless) for their braided nylon seine twine which is sold by the pound.  String sold by the pound is put up or packaged in spools of one, two or more pounds.  The column in TABLE A entitled "feet/lb." is the approximate feet of string you should get per pound. 

As you can see, all size 24 string is not equal. This fact is not particularly significant as the estimates stated by the manufacturers are usually on the conservative side.  For instance, the string that we sell is a #24 braided nylon seine twine (also commonly referred to as 1/16" diameter) in a 2 pound put up (spool) with an estimated 1700 feet of string.  Every spool of line that we have actually measured has been over 700 yards or 2100 feet. 

We measure the string in the field beside one of our homes where we have a 200 yard surveyed strip that we use to test equipment.   We run the string back and forth three times in this area with about 3 to 5 yards between corner pulleys at each end.  This gives us a 1200 yard course in an area measuring 200 by 20 yards.  We tie on a bunny so that we can determine when the course starts and ends.  This is where and how we test all of the equipment we manufacture...in the sun, in the rain and in the snow.  We're sure that our neighbors think we're nuts...standing in the rain, endlessly watching a plastic bag go back and forth over a 200 yard area.  Boy, do we know how to have fun! 

Let's go back to the beginnings of lure coursing, when the take up method was being used to run the bunny.  The string of preference with a take up system was (and still is) a line made out of polyester.  The reason for this is that a polyester string has the working characteristic of stretching less initially when put under load.  In principle, when the line starts to wind onto the take up reel, the lure will move sooner because the line will stretch less before it moves the bunny.

Using the information Tom gathered over the years from various cordage manufacturers we will try to quantitatively illustrate the difference between using a braided nylon and a braided polyester string.   For this illustration, let's assume that the nylon and polyester lines are equal in size, strength and braid construction.  We will assume a take up course of 1000 yards.  We do not know the exact amount of string that would have to be wound onto the take up wheel before the lure at the end of the 1000 yard course would start to move.  This would depend on the variable conditions of weather and the string condition.  But for this illustration let's assume, with a polyester line, that the take up wheel had to bring in 15 yards of line (to remove the stretch) before the lure could started to move.  The more elastic quality of a nylon line would require that 35 yards of line be wound onto the wheel before the lure would start to move.

The stretch differential relationship between a polyester and a nylon string is a somewhat linear relationship.  For instance, if a polyester line required 20 yards of stretch to be removed from the course before the lure would move, than 40 to 50 yards of stretch would need to be removed from a nylon string.  This linear relationship remains true when the lure is halfway around the course.   At the 500 yard point, the polyester line would require only 10 yards of stretch to be removed in order for the bunny to start moving.

About now you're probably saying to your self, "well that's very interesting INJOY, but so what".   Nobody at a trial or practice gives a hoot about all this stretch stuff except the lure operator.  The lure operator knows that taking all of this stretch out of the string before the lure will start to move requires time.   An average lure machine will probably bring in (take up) about 10 to 12 yards per second at the beginning of a 1000 yard course.  This is assuming a 4 inch diameter center to the take up wheel.  So, at the start of a 1000 yard course using polyester string, there would be a 1 to 2 second delay as opposed to a 3 to 5 second delay when using a nylon line.  This delay is from the time the lure operator starts the lure machine by pushing the button to the time the lure starts to move way out at the end of that 1000 yards of string.  The more the delay, the more difficult it is for the lure operator to accurately gauge when to push the button to keep the lure in front of the hounds.

The string in a continuous loop (C/L) system is, in effect, a large belt which extends around the course and is driven by a C/L wheel or sheave of various designs.  In order to propel the string around the course, some amount of constant force or tension must be maintained by the string to transmit the necessary friction to the C/L wheel in order to drive the line around the course.  This is usually accomplished by tying the two ends of the string together to form the loop which extends around the course layout.  The string is then stretched back to the lure machine and placed onto the C/L wheel.

Because the line is under constant tension, a braided nylon string of 200 pound test or more is a good choice. We like to use a little heavier string with a C/L system because it seems to work better on a C/L wheel and it will wear better and last longer than the lighter lines.

The amount of tension that is maintained by the string can have a significant effect on how the course plan will run. We recommend that a fisherman's scale or a laboratory spring scale be used to measure the amount of tension on the line at the C/L wheel.  A scale that will measure up to 25 pounds is adequate for this purpose.  The use of a scale to determine the string tension will assure a more consistent result when setting up each course plan.

To measure the static tension on the string, simply stretch the string to the back edge of the C/L wheel and attach the scale to the string.  After reading the amount of tension indicated by the spring scale, place the string on the C/L wheel and take a test run to see if the course plan is running OK.

If the string slips or doubles over on itself when the wheel turns, there is not adequate tension on the line. To correct this condition you need to shorten the string in one of several ways.  The method most frequently used is to cut a length of string out of the loop which shortens the string and increases the tension.  You can also move the machine back or move a pulley in such a way as to increase the length of the course relative to the existing string length which will also increase the tension on the string.

After running a few courses, it is not unusual for the string to start slipping or to double over on itself on the C/L wheel. This is due to the string stretching and/or the course redirecting the string into straight lines between the corner pulleys. (We all have a tendency to weave a little while setting up a course.)  To correct this situation you will need to go through the same process mentioned above...move a pulley or cut a 6 to 9 foot piece of string out of the loop. 

After each successful adjustment to the string tension is made, it is a good idea, for future reference, to take a new measurement with the spring scale in order to take note of the amount of tension at the time.  The current amount of tension can be used as a starting point when setting up the next course plan. As a guide, more than 25 lbs. of string tension should not be necessary to run a continuous loop course.

One important factor in successfully running a C/L course is that the string needs to be of a uniform diameter or size. If the string is new, the same size and type needs to be used throughout the entire loop. This will assure a uniform amount of tension and allow the C/L wheel to respond to the string in the same way as it proceeds around the course.

Mixing new string with used or badly worn string, even if they are of the same size and type, can cause the C/L wheel to react differently when it encounters the new or used condition.  This is caused by the fact that the two lines are in reality different diameters. The used string can have a smaller diameter due to wear and the condition of being pre-stretched and heat set. The condition of the used string will determine if combining the two will work successfully.

This is not to suggest that used string in good condition is in any way inferior to new line.  As a matter of fact, used string will often times require less adjustments to correct the tension due to the pre-stretched condition which results from use. We have always tried to use new string for practice sessions as a way to break-in the line and then use this conditioned line for lure trials.

What to do if....

If you are experiencing the string breaking at the knots you have tied, the knot shown in Figure 1, called a Blood Knot, will solve the problem. This knot is most generally used by fly fishermen to construct the tapered leaders that they use to present their flies to the fish.


To construct the Blood Knot, you need to extend or crossover the ends of the string about 6" or 8" as shown in Step #1 below. The ends of the string are designated as "A" and "B" and the arrows indicate the direction of the string extending around the course.  To complete Step #2, place your thumb and index finger in the center of the 6" or 8" overlap, using either your left or right hand.  With your other hand, wrap the loose end around the string 3 or 4 times.  Bring the end of the string back to the center loop and switch hands, holding the completed wrap in place.  Wrap the second end in the opposite direction 3 or 4 times and insert the end of the string through the center loop in the opposite direction from the first wrap (SEE Step #2, Figure 5).

To finish the knot, gently pull on all four pieces of the string at once, until the knot starts to form.  When the ends, "A" and "B", appear to remain in place, you can release them and complete the knot by pulling the string in the direction indicated by the arrows. The completed knot should look something like the one shown in Step #3.  You can trim the ends, "A" and "B", leaving about a 1/4" of string.

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