By Dave Brown
What Kind Of Line Should I Use?
You just bought that shiny new fishing rod and reel and need to put some line on it. But with so many options, what to do? Do I spool Braid, Monofilament or Fluorocarbon?
Three Main Types Of Fishing Line
In the world of fishing, there are three types of fishing line. Braid, Monofilament and Fluorocarbon. But what is the difference? And what should I put on my new reel?
I'll run you through each of these types of fishing line giving you the positives and negatives of each.
The first line we will talk about is Monofilament. This is probably the most widely used fishing line out there. This is the stuff that you parents and grandparents used while out fishing. The word monofilament, or mono, as it is more commonly named, means One Filament, or one single strand of filament that makes up the entire spool of line. Mono can be made out of many different types of materials, but the most common material that monofilament is made out of is nylon. You may also hear the term co-polymer or multi-polymer lines, which means they are made of more than one material that is bonded together to make one line.
Monofilament has many benefits over Braid and Fluorocarbon. The first is stretch. Monofilament has a great deal of stretch in the line which makes it good for a variety of different fishing applications. With the stretch, you can get a nice tight knot that wont slip. The stretch also works as shock absorption when a big fish strikes.
Second is invisibility. Monofilament can be very clear, though it comes in many colors including hi-vis yellows and greens, to pink and red.
Monofilament generally has a larger diameter than its counterparts making it sink a bit slower. The advantage of that, is that you can work a falling bait slower through the water column giving fish extra time to react.
Lastly is price. Monofilament is usually the lowest price of the fishing lines available. As it is made of that single material, costs are fairly low keeping it accessible to all anglers. And if you should break your line, it won't cost you a ton of money to get new line.
Some of the disadvantages of Monofilament are abrasion resistance. It just isn't as strong as braid and fluorocarbon lines.
Since the line has stretch, it isn't as sensitive as braid and fluorocarbon lines which can deaden the feel of subtle bites and makes hook sets a bit more difficult on a long cast or deep offshore drop.
Lastly, it has lower breaking strength per diameter. Though it does have a larger diameter, meaning thicker line, it does tend to break at a lower force.
That all said, Monofilament is a great all around fishing line. You have the ability to find mono that starts out at 1 pound test and goes well into the hundreds. From your light rainbow trout and pan fishing applications all the way up to your monster bluefin tuna fishing applications, monofilament will have you covered.
You may have heard the term Fluorocarbon in the fishing world. Fluorocarbon has really made a push over the last decade as the line to have if you want to catch more fish. It also has its advantages and disadvantages.
The first strength of fluorocarbon is its invisibility. The materials that make up fluorocarbon have nearly the same refractive index as water itself. This makes it nearly invisible under water.
Another strength is its abrasion resistance. Fluorocarbon is very strong line. The abrasion resistance over mono is quite impressive. You will bring your line back and see nicks and frays and the line still holds together where mono will snap. The fact that it is nearly invisible under water means that you can increase the breaking strength of the line you are using in heavy cover situations.
The tightly packed molecules that make up Fluorocarbon line make it very sensitive due to that fact that it has no stretch. In mono, the stretch deadens the feel of a bite, where fluorocarbon you can feel nearly every bump on your line when a fish takes a bite.
With nearly zero stretch, you can get a stronger hook set, even at great distance. Since it is so sensitive, you can feel the smallest of bites and really set the hook whether it is on a long cast, or a deep offshore drop.
There are a couple of disadvantage of Fluorocarbon as well. Nothing too dramatic, but things you should be aware of.
Fluorocarbon is stiffer than monofilament line making it harder to manage on the reel. It does pick up quite a bit of memory, meaning that when you cast, you will see the loops in your line where the fluoro was packed onto your reel.
Lack of shock absorption is another downfall. With Mono, the stretch helps from ripping hooks out of fishes mouths, but with fluoro, you don't have that. You do need to learn how to work your reel and the drag system.
Fluorocarbon has a faster sink rate than monofilament lines. That said, it is not the best for topwater baits as it will drag them down below the surface. Not a problem if you are fishing underwater baits though.
And the last is knot strength. Since there is near zero stretch, it is difficult to really cinch down your knot creating a weak point in your line connections. And if you are chasing a fish of a lifetime, you don't want to lose it due to a poor knot.
One company who has thrown a curve at the Fluorocarbon industry is Soft Steel with their new Fluoro-Stretch Fluorocarbon line. This new line takes care of some of the disadvantages discussed such as shock absorption and knot strength.
Each strand of fiber sits on a "carrier" that weaves and rotates around each other to create the braid. The number of carriers is how braid is defined. An 8 carrier braid has 8 strands of fiber, while a 16 carrier braid has 16 strands of fiber.
Fishing with braided line has many strengths. The first is sensitivity. Since braided line has ZERO stretch, you can feel everything that is happening at the end of your line. You can be fishing offshore in 400 feet of water, and feel any little tap on your bait while using braided line. If fishing shallow in bass type situations, you can feel weeks and rocks while using braided line which tells you the type of structure you are fishing over.
Braided lines have an incredibly small diameter in comparison to Mono and Fluorocarbon lines. In fact, the diameter of 30 pound braid compares roughly to a 12 pound diameter monofilament. That said, you can increase the strength of the line you are using without sacrificing capacity on your reel.
Since braid is thinner in diameter, it works well for deep diving crank baits as there is less drag on your line.
Braid does have a few disadvantages that you should be aware of. Like fluorocarbon, it has zero shock absorption. This can increase hooks being pulled if a fish pulls too hard, or if you have too much drag in play.
Knots are harder to tie with braided lines. In fact, there will probably be a few connection knots you will need to learn in order to use braid.
The biggest disadvantage is probably visibility. While mono and fluoro lines have near visibility, braid overs none of that. It is fully visible to the fish. There are some camouflaging techniques you can use, but if want invisibility, you will have to use a leader of fluoro or mono line.
All three of these lines have their advantages and disadvantages. As a new angler, you will most likely want to start off with Monofilament line as it is the most versatile and can be used in many applications. From there, you will eventually progress and try different techniques that may require braided line or fluorocarbon line.
The key is to get out on the water and start fishing!
See you on the water.
Dave Brown- Okuma Fishing Tackle