Fishing lines are an extremely controversial topic in the sport of fishing. The subject is almost as controversial as fishing lures. All of the types are subject to some key fishing line differences. Every one you decide to use is a compromise. There is no perfect one. There isn’t one product that can cover every situation you will face on the water.
They all have their pros and cons. They all have their places in which they win and lose. Different types exist because so many different ways of fishing do as well. Generally speaking, there are some primary features to look for. Those are most notably stretch, cost, visibility, sensitivity, and buoyancy.
Monofilament: The Stretchy
Monofilament is the oldest and most popular fishing line used today. Monofilament has been used for a very long time to catch everything from Bluegill, Bass, and Pike to huge saltwater fish like Marlin and sharks. Mono is a nylon-based thread. The term monofilament got its name from the way the fishing line is manufactured. The prefix mono literally translates to one or single. A filament is a word that is used to describe a thread, a strand, or a string.
When putting them together and translated into modern English, the word monofilament literally means, “one thread”. The manufacturing process results in a line that has a decent amount of stretching capabilities partnered with good knot strength. Monofilament also is a floating line. Nylon tends to be a product that takes on the water more than others. If left in water for long enough, the line can start to break down and become weaker even if you spool up with new line beforehand.
It is also affected by certain weather conditions and temperatures. It is normally used for topwater fishing, as a shock leader for targeting really big fish, and as a mainline to go after fish with soft mouths. Mono tends to be the cheapest of the options available to anglers. It cost much less to produce in high quantities versus the more complicated procedures associated with more expensive options. The main thing about monofilament is the rate at which it stretches. If you don’t want stretching, this is not the one for you.
If you want sensitivity, it isn’t the one for you either. Mono excels in being forgiving on the hookset and fight, but horrible in actually detecting bites. That stretch can get in the way if you are trying to do a certain presentation and can sometimes do more harm than good.
Flourocarbon: The Invisible
Fluorocarbon lines possess attributes for the angler to be stealthy. Fluorocarbon is made from hydrogen, carbon, and fluorine. It is a rugged and durable piece of engineering for your fishing reels. In contrast to the monofilament variety, it is very dense. That means it sinks very easily. Probably the biggest factor in fluorocarbon that attracts many anglers to it, would have to be the fact that it refracts light. This makes the line extremely stealthy because you cannot see it underwater.
That means that fish that are spooked easily will be caught much easier. It also provides extremely good abrasion resistance which is helpful if you’re fishing in snaggy areas that would tend to kink up your average mono. Since it uses fluorine as a chemical composite, it is significantly harder to tie a good strong fishing knot then it is with a nylon-based strand. It does not break down to salt, weather, or ultraviolet light. It is also one of the most expensive options out there. Many professional fishermen can justify having to pay a higher price for a strand that will win the tournaments.
For the average weekend angler who would prefer to save money where possible, it may not be a worthy investment to consider. It does have some stretch to it but not enough that it hinders sensitivity. It takes much more exerted force to make it start stretching in the first place. For someone who wants to prevent anything from seeing the string your bait is connected to, this is the one for you.
Braided: The Durable
The newest contender in fishing lines is the braided variety or superline. Just as the name implies, braided line is a single strand woven together buy many other strands. The life of a good braid begins as a plastic composite commonly called polyethylene. It is the exact same thermoplastic used in common household products such as grocery bags, bottles, and bulletproof vests worn by police for protection. Many fibers are woven together to form strands of this durable plastic fiber.
The resulting strands are then woven together once more to form a line that is supple, slick, and extremely strong with a very thin diameter. Also called braid, it has no stretch at all. That means it is very unforgiving on hooksets. If you choose this route, make sure that you really need to bury the hook first. Spooling up with a braided strand can easily rip fish lips if you are not careful. It is also extremely visible. You can see it. The fish can see it. This is why it is important to use it sparingly.
A common practice is to use a braided mainline with a leader of fluorocarbon. Braid is good for fishing topwater because it tends to float. It is good for many situations and can be used in many different places. Braid is a rather expensive line on the surface. It may not be the best option for the savvy shopper.
Copolymer: The Balance
Also a newer patron to the market, there is another nylon based line called copolymer. Copolymers are created by mixing two different nylon lines together. It does not stretch as much as traditional monofilament. It also has abrasion-resistant qualities that rival or even surpass fluorocarbon in terms of durability. It is also much more sensitive than your traditional mono as well. That equates to more bites detected and more fish landed. They are also noticeably stiffer and more rigid.
The invisibility of the copolymer variety is also very good. They are much stronger than mono. This allows you to spoil up more at a time. They do not absorb or take on water either. The biggest and most noticeable difference between a copolymer and monofilament is the buoyancy. They do not float at all.
Using a line like this will allow you to get mono like properties in a strand that doesn’t float. Since the chemical makeup is exclusively nylon, it still has the problem of breaking down in light and harsh weather conditions. The price is also another factor. They are more expensive than your traditional nylon line and for some anglers, it just isn’t an option to be considered.
Differences Are Complicated But Needed
The best thing about fishing lines is their properties. It is a complicated endeavor but it is still necessary. They exist for a reason. You do not want to use a strand that stretches on a frog lure. You do not want to use braid on the paper mouthed Crappie. You do not want to invest a ton of money if you do not have it to spend. You never want to use a visible line on fish that spook easily.
You shouldn’t use a floating product on a crankbait or bottom lure. All in all, the reason for having somewhat complicated individual properties serves a purpose. They are needed. Different ways of fishing exist so therefore, a good line that can adequately pair with them is a great thing to have.