by Bruce Ingram
After trying a number of lures and failing to receive a strike from a bass, my buddy picked up a spinning rod spooled with braid. He started making long casts with a Texas-rigged soft plastic jerkbait to a shaded shoreline. Soon afterwards, he caught some nice bass, so I quickly tied on a jerkbait to my mono.
I got jarring strikes, but when I set the hook either I failed to get a solid hookset or the bass quickly threw the hook. By the end of the outing, Mark had caught and released a dozen or so quality bass. My tally was a grand total of two. I rode home fuming, he was gloating.
That was the day — which took place years ago — that I learned the hard way how important it is to match the correct line and lure to the fishing conditions.
In order to help you avoid fishing frustation, we put together an overview of the three major line types and when to use them.
MONO AND COPOLYMERS
Monofilament is a term that really does not describe the most line that anglers call “mono.”
Ron Giudice of Berkley said some confusion exists between monos, which are extruded through a tiny hole to form a single strand, and copolymer, which is two or more strands of polymers.
“Mono line of today can have a variety of characteristics…yet all are considered copolymer-based,” Guidice said.
A good example of this is Berkley Trilene XL, which remains a favorite of many anglers, including myself. Another popular “mono,” Trilene XT, is often the choice for fishing heavier cover because the line is more abrasion resistant than Trilene XL. But the tougher line is stiffer. That’s not a concern when we flip heavy jigs into brush piles but it might not be the best choice when it comes to the use of other fishing techniques.
Whether you call it mono or copolymer, they have similar attributes. For example, they are less expensive by the yard than other line types. They are versatile and can vary in thickness, stretchiness, abrasion resistance and line strength. Their stretchiness makes them a solid choice for working buzzbaits across the surface or slow rolling spinnerbaits along the bottom. That stretchiness allows fish to more deeply engulf these blade baits, making it less likely that they will throw the hook. This quality is also a plus when a fish is about to be landed and makes a searing run near the boat.
The negative is that when you make a long cast with mono or copolymers, you get poor hooksets.
Mono lines also are more susceptible to abrasion, UV, and memory. They should be replaced more often than braided line.
Braids are known for their strength, abrasion resistance, small diameter, limpness and lack of memory. Braids float, which is why my buddy liked to work soft plastic jerkbaits across the surface with this line. Anglers who heave frogs into dense surface vegetation prefer braid.
Conversely, the high visibility of braid makes many anglers shun them in clear water. And braided line’s lack of stretchiness often means a lightly hooked fish will escape.
Fused line is a type of braid in which the filaments have been fused into one solid line. Berkley Original Fireline, which works great on spinning reels because it comes off so smoothly during the cast, is a fused line. Berkley Spiderwire Stealth falls into the category of a braid that offers anglers the ability to cast, for example, a jig and pig into heavy brush, and implement a solid hook set without having to worry about line stretch at all when they do it.
“Spiderwire is also great for ripping lipless crankbaits through grass,” said Giudice. “But I wouldn’t use this braid for crappie because you could rip a lure right out of a fish’s mouth on the hookset.”
Fluorocarbon has numerous applications. It excels at drop-shotting soft plastics because the line sinks quickly. It’s also effective at working soft plastic baits deep. Fluorocarbon sinks so it’s not the choice for topwaters. But it’s often used as a leader for braided line because it is clear and has a bit more stretch than braid to allow for a little give on the hookset. Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and Berkley Vanish are two of the popular fluorocarbons.
Britt Stoudenmire uses all line types each day in his work as a bass guide.
He uses braided line with a fluorocarbon leader for bottom baits, such as tubes, jig-n-pigs, worms, and soft jerkbaits. “The braided line affords me the ability to make longer casts, and with its non-stretching characteristics, I have better hook-setting capabilities, especially at long distances or when I have slack in the line.”
The fluorocarbon leader is better at abrasion resistance and sinks faster for improved contact with the bottom, he said. It also acts as a shock leader.
Finally, the fluorocarbon leader is not as visible as mono or braid. This is a plus during all conditions, particularly, clear water ones.
Sometimes, however, Stoundenmire opts for just one line type.
Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, crankbaits, and jerkbaits get tied directly to PowerPro braided line in 20/6 directly tied to the bait with a 30-pound Bass Pro Duolock snap.
When drop-shotting, the guide depends on 6- or 8-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon in most cases because the rig is typically weighted heavier, meaning lighter line is needed for deeper depths.
For jerkbaits, he taps into 6- or 8-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon.
Selecting and using line is much more complicated than it used to be. But these additional choices do increase the odds of our success.