Picking the Right Line... Always

Monofilament used to be the standard when it came to fishing lines, but so much has changed in the past 10 years that it can be hard to tell which line to use for each fishing situation.  Here's the low-down on the respective strengths and application of each. 

Braid
Abrasion resistance. Sheer strength.  Sensitivity.  Braided fishing line is unparalleled when it comes to these characteristics, and as such fills an important niche in any anglers' tackle box.  Here's some important things to know about braid:
-Typically 4 times stronger than mono of similar diameter
-Virtually zero stretch for perfect hooksetting power and sensitivity
-Floats well for topwater fishing (except Spiderwire Sinking Braid)

10 to 20 pound braid works well on spinning reels where sensitivity is paramount.  Savvy anglers can also use a 3 to 5 foot fluorocarbon leader for spooky fish in clear water. 

50 to 80 pound braid works well when fishing weedy areas and other heavy cover for species such as bass, pike, and musky and is best paired with a strong baitcasting combo.  It's abrasion resistance allows it to slice right through thick weeds and lilypads.

Braid up to 200 pound is commonly used for ocean fishing for trophy species such as halibut, but also is popular amongst sturgeon fishermen in the Pacific Northwest.

Fluorocarbon
Fluorocarbon is relatively new on the scene but has reached the position of tackle box standard.  While it has long been popular as tippet material for fly fishermen, gear anglers have discovered the value of this high grade line for a variety of fishing conditions.  While it may look a lot like monofilament at a glance there are some important differences:
-Fluorocarbon is virtually invisible underwater making it the line of choice for picky fish
-Fluorocarbon is stiffer than mono with typically less memory 
-It has less stretch, making it more sensitive and easier to detect bites than mono
-Fluorocarbon sinks while mono floats
Berkley Vanish Transition is a premium fluorocarbon which turns gold in sunlight and clear underwater.

2 to 8 pound Fluorocarbon is popular as tippet material for fly fishermen casting to finicky fish.

4 to 12 pound Fluorocarbon works great for most freshwater applications, including trout and bass fishing, especially in clear water.  It can either be used as a main line, or a leader added to braided line.

14 to 25 pound Fluorocarbon is becoming popular amongst bass fishermen fishing heavy cover.  It works best as a main line on flipping gear (high speed baitcasting reel with heavy action 7+ foot rod).   It is also becoming popular amongst pike, walleye and musky anglers and even salmon and trout trollers due to it's sensitivity and invisibility.

A final note on fluorocarbon: because it's composition is different than mono, you may need to tie a different knot.  I've done fine with the improved clinch and palomar, but sometimes more moisture is needed for a knot to stick so don't be afraid to spit on it.

Monofilament
Monofilament still has its place in the market.  It's cheaper than fluorocarbon and braid and with the high quality of line being produced by companies such as Berkley and Stren, still deserves a place in every anglers' arsenal.  Here's why:
-It's stretchability works well for the automatic hooksets needed by trollers
-It's floating nature makes it better for fishing topwater lures than fluorocarbon
-It's price makes it better for situations where a lot of line is needed, such as deepwater jigging or on reels with large spools.  It also can serve as backing for fluorocarbon or braid to save money.

Berkley Trilene Transoptic is a part of the new age of monofilament.  It has all the properties of mono, but changes colour in sunlight to make it more visible for anglers detecting bites.

2 to 8 pound monofilament works great for casting.  8 pound Trilene is the line I recommend for anglers just starting out.  It's easy to find, inexpensive, and casts and fishes great.  Pair it up with a 6'6" medium action spinning rod and you're ready for shore fishing on just about any freshwater in North America.  

10 to 20 pound mono works great for casting crankbaits, spinnerbaits, topwater lures, and anything that triggers a reaction bite.  Line visibility is rarely a factor with these sorts of lures and monofilament's stretchy nature helps with hooksets.  

8 to 25 pound mono works great for trolling for trout, salmon, walleye and just about anything else.  Go towards the lighter line for smaller fish and the heavier end for larger ones such as salmon.  

Any further questions about fishing line?  Shoot me an email at wfnwest@gmail.com.  Stay tuned for a future article on new Superlines. 
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