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I fished with ESP Syncro XT Loaded for a year and here’s my full review

Syncro XT Loaded is a very popular carp line and a couple of years ago, I decided to re-spool with it based on the reviews I found at the time. I bought the 18lb version for use here at Beausoleil for short to medium range because I wanted a very strong line due to the large catfish we have in the lake. I also bought the 10lb version for use with a shock leader on bigger lakes.

I fished with the ESP Syncro XT Loaded for a whole year and was able to see how it behaves in winter through to the summer. If you want to see how I tested the line and how it fishes, check out the video above.


In the video, I talk about my personal experiences with using ESP Syncro XT Loaded in 10lb and 18lb over 12 months. I look at: abrasion resistance, knot strength, level of memory, how well it casts, general usability and how well it sinks.

ESP Syncro XT strength (or click here to watch the clip)

One of the first things I do whenever I buy a new spool of line is I test it. I use one of our test weights here which is an eight kilo / 17.5lb kettlebell, you don’t have to have one of these, you can make up a bucket of water and put eight kilos of water in it or whatever. So I’m going to test the Syncro XT in 18lb with different knots with that weight and see what happens.

esp syncro xt carp line strength

First, I am using a Palomar knot. I hook it on the test rig, put my casting glove on, you can wrap it around anything but I’ve got a really robust lighter here so that’ll do, and we’ll see how that knot performs. I just pull the weight, hold on to the swivel, make sure it doesn’t go bang right away, I can see the weight is off the deck, I let go of the swivel, there we go, first time, Palomar knot with a 17.5 pound weight, it’s good.

I tested this line with loads of different knots. The recommended knot for ESP Syncro XT for maximum strength is the five turn grinner so obviously when I bought this line I tied a five turn grinner. I’m going to do one now and we’ll see what happens. OK so that’s nested down, we’ll see how we do. So I took quite a lot of time and trouble over that knot, you’ve got to with the five turn grinner, and there we go, the line breaks. Now that is not a lot of good.

Obviously that’s taking the mainline to the absolute max but according to the back of the packet, a well-tied double grinner knot should be good for 25 pounds. Now either I don’t know how to tie a double grinner, possible but I’ve tied an awful lot of them, or that knot does not suit this material at all. I’ve done loads of these five turn grinner tests and that one wasn’t bad, it nearly got the weight off the deck, but I’ve had plenty of others that have just snapped before I’ve barely moved the bell.

So the ESP Syncro XT in 18lb is strong, I’ve found the Palomar knot very reliable, but if you’re following the instructions, doing a five turn grinner, tying your knots as you do, and if you’re not testing them well you could have a nasty surprise if it fails on you.

While we’re on the subject of knot strength, let’s have a little chat about the ESP Syncro XT Loaded in 10lb. Much to my surprise, the 10lb version with a simple Palomar knot is actually good for about 14 pounds, that’s fantastic performance from a mono that’s only 0.30 in diameter. So in terms of knot strength, it’s good news, bad news. It is strong line, it has good knot strength but you have to be very careful, you have to use the right knot, you still have to test the knot but if you do it right and take your time, you can get a really really strong connection.

ESP Syncro XT abrasion resistance (or click here)

To test abrasion resistance, I use a rock and I always choose the same bit of the rock to run the line over so when I test various different lines, I kind of know their relative performance. All I do is I wrap the line around my fingers a bit, get over the rock, and count the backs and forth. The ESP Syncro XT did 22 on that test, and that’s a lot of abuse. That score of 20-22 is pretty good.

esp syncro xt loaded abrasion resistance

To set that into context, I’m going to test the 25lb Berkley Big Game which is what we’ve been using for the catfish here for years, we got cats to 120lbs so they really do pull. So that line achieves 24, so about the same but this line is 0.48 diameter and the Syncro XT is only 0.40 diameter so the relative performance in terms of abrasion resistance of the 18lb Syncro XT is fantastic.

ESP Syncro XT line memory (or click here)

In terms of line memory, if I pull some line and crunch it up, smash it up, put a few kinks in there, hopefully you can see the difference between the line straight from the spool and the crunched up line. It’s not too bad but this line hasn’t been abused, it’s been stored away safely in a dark cupboard. If I try and smooth it out, it does smooth out very nicely. That’s great but that line is unused.

I want to show you what some line looks like that I’ve been using. I’ve probably done 70 or 80 nights fishing with this line, that’s a lot of fishing, a lot of exposure to UV and let’s see how it looks. So I’m going to show you what problems I’ve been having, oh here we go, that didn’t take long, now we’re starting to get a coil up here and these coils are driving me crazy.

So I started having problems with this line very early on. Now, when I play a fish, I don’t use the clutch, I’m back winding and on every fish I don’t rip line off the clutch so I’m not creating any twist, I’m doing my absolute best to minimize twist so why am I getting this coily twisty line effect?

So what I’ve done is I’ve soaked another spool in water for a few hours and I’ll show you how differently that behaves. So what I’ve done here I’ve taken an old sweat band, I’ve dunked it in the lake, gave it a good soak and I’ve put it over the spool. I had this on for about three or four hours and what it’s doing is it’s keeping the line wet. No matter what mono you buy, it’s all basically nylon with some additives in it and nylon is hydroscopic which means that it absorbs water and through the process of evaporation the mono is losing moisture all the time. The effect on mainline is that it changes the properties of the line so dry line is very coily and subject to looping up, moist line, properly hydrated line behaves very well.

I noticed this when I was fishing through some very wet weather and all of a sudden my dry, coily line went from being horrible to use to beautiful to use so I came up with this little sweatband trick and it really is very effective. So let’s run it through the distance sticks here, now immediately I can feel this line absolutely flying through my fingers, it feels soft, supple and it just goes lovely, it’s as if I’m using brand brand new line, and we can go and go and go. So I’m not quite sure whether the ESP Syncro is particularly susceptible to drying out and losing the moisture and changing the way it behaves but I can tell you that if you don’t keep the moisture in it, it does become dry and coily and horrible to use. It’s not enough just to dip the rod, splash some water on the spool and cast out, you need to get the water into the material and that takes time.

How does ESP Syncro XT sink? (or click here)

So let’s have a look at how the ESP Syncro sinks. I’ve just cast out to a spot here and we’ve got a bit of surface wind so it’s no good me just kind of leaving it to do its own thing otherwise there’ll be a massive bow in the line.

esp syncro xt how does it sink

All I’m doing at the rod end is I’m just flicking the rod tip, just teasing the line, breaking it through the surface tension of the lake and you can see that if I just keep on waggling the rod that it encourages it through the surface, helps it cut through the surface and it does sink and settle quite nicely. So I’m happy enough with the way that the Syncro sinks. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no fluorocarbon but it does what it says on the tin. When I wind in the morning, I can tell how well it sunk on the bottom because I have to use quite a lot of force to lift the line, flip that lead off, get it up and out the way and I can feel that the line has really kind of sunk over the bottom into the silt so in those terms it’s good stuff.

How does ESP Syncro XT cast? (or click here)

In terms of casting, the Syncro XT 18lb at 0.40 casts like 0.40 mainline. If you’re a reasonable caster then it’ll do up to 100 yards without too much bother but if you’re looking for more than that then you’re going to have to drop to the lower diameter.

casting with syncro xt

For my distance work, I use the 10lb version so I coupled that with a braided leader so down the reservoir in damp conditions I did all right, the line behaved well, I got the leads out there to the distance that I wanted, probably about 120-125 yards something like that with a baited rig. On a bright sunny day when the spools were dry I could really hear it rattling through the rings, even the 0.30, and I knew that was costing me distance and that was a bit frustrating.

Would I recommend the Syncro XT?

So the ESP Syncro has some excellent properties, it sinks well, it’s got fantastic abrasion resistance, those are its real plus points. On the downside, I found it a bit twitchy on the knots, you can get some good knot performance out of it but you’ve really got to be careful. What I didn’t like is how much memory it’s got and its susceptibility to drying out in the sun. It made it difficult to cast and not nice to use, very susceptible to coils and twists. This can be a real pain if you’re running rigs out through a bait boat or rowing rigs out and dropping them by hand. It’s a bit marmite, you’re either going to love it or hate it. If you look after it and keep it moist, it’s beautiful stuff but if you leave it go dry and coily you’re gonna hate it.

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