April 12, 2022
We all know the adage, "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link." Similarly, your connection to a nice bass is only as strong as the thin strands and fibers you use as fishing line. A quick glance down the tackle aisle reveals the many options of fishing line available today: braid, monofilament and fluorocarbon—and multiple versions of each.
Knowing how to properly invest your hard-earned dollars requires an understanding of the attributes of each line material, but also an understanding that no one line type fits the needs for every fishing lure and technique.
In a perfect world, we’d only utilize the strongest line available. Yet, the stronger the line, the more visible it becomes. Therefore, we not only need to consider water clarity, but also cover type, water depth and the action of the specific lure we’re using.
You simply cannot beat the strength of braided line when pulling a bass from cover—it’s the strongest line material available for its diameter. It also has absolutely no line memory, so you can leave it spooled on your reel for months at a time and it doesn’t form coils like monofilament or fluorocarbon.
Braid has no stretch, which is great for setting the hook, especially at long distances. That’s why a small-diameter braided line with a fluorocarbon leader has become standard fare for most spinning applications.
Braid tends to rest on the water’s surface, so it can be a good choice for topwater lures because it won’t inhibit the action of the lure.
Braid is the most visible of the various line types, which can be muted somewhat with colored line. However, it's not the best choice as a stand-alone line in clear water. I use it primarily for shallow, heavy cover, or I disguise it by using a long fluoro leader on spinning tackle.
Be aware that braided line is sold with different thread counts: 4 and 8. While both are strong lines, the 8-strand is quieter and smoother coming through the rod guides. If that’s important to you, look for that information on the packaging.
This is the line material I grew up using exclusively in the 1970s and ’80s, and it’s the least expensive of the three lines materials today. While I don’t use it as much anymore, it still has a place in my boat.
Mono is a buoyant material, so it tends to bow or arch in the water as the lure descends. This can actually alter the fall rate of a lightweight worm or jig when casting in 10 feet or greater. However, this buoyancy is quite helpful in fishing a slow-moving topwater plug because the line won’t sink and hinder the action of the lure.
Monofilament is more visible in the water than fluoro and not as abrasion resistant. However, in addition to topwaters, it is a solid choice for other shallow-running baits like crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
This is the line type I choose probably 75 percent of the time. It’s virtually invisible in the water and has very good abrasion resistance due to the hardness of the extruded material. Fluoro is denser than mono and will sink, meaning it descends through the water column along with the lure and is a great choice for fishing offshore.
This tendency to sink means fluoro won’t work for slow-moving topwaters. The line digs into the water and inhibits the action of poppers or walking baits. Stick with braid or mono for topwaters.
To get the full benefits of fluoro—the invisibility, fall rate and abrasion resistance—look for terminology on the packaging indicating "100% fluorocarbon." Some line offerings are merely coated with fluorocarbon, and while they are available at a lower price point, they don’t offer all the benefits of 100-percent fluorocarbon.
In summary, there is not a perfect line material that fits every situation. Consider the water conditions, cover type and technique, and match your line material accordingly.