The Pros and Cons of Different Fishing Lines

Notes on fluorocarbon, braid, and monofilament to help you decide which material is best for your fishing.

All of the effort you put into getting a fish on the line—lures, bait, rod, reel, boat, license, travel, time—won’t count for anything if the line you’re using is wrong for your fishing. Because if that’s the case, you may never land a fish on that line—never ever.

That’s why it’s so important to choose the right line for the fishing you do. There are three basic types, each with specific pros and cons. Here are a few notes on each to help you choose the best line for your fishing.

Fluorocarbon

Seaguar’s Red Label fluorocarbon fishing line is very sensitive and resists abrasions. Seaguar

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Fluorocarbon’s one great advantage is that it practically disappears underwater. That makes it excellent when fishing for line-shy fish, or in very clear water. It also resists abrasions better than other line types. Abrasions cause weak spots and that can cost you a fish, so if your line rubs against rocks and other abrasive surfaces where you fish, fluorocarbon is a good choice. It’s sensitive, which helps you detect light biting fish. It’s also dense, so it sinks quickly, decreasing the amount of slack line between you and your lure and giving you a better feel.

Fluoro does have memory, so it’s important to make sure the line won’t twist when you’re putting it on a reel. It also has some stretch, which means that it’s forgiving if a big fish lunges, reducing the chance that it’ll throw the hook or break off, but not as much stretch as some other lines like monofilament.

Braid

The SuperPower braided fishing line by KastKing is available in strengths from 6- to 150-pound test. KastKing

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First, a clarification: What is commonly called braid used to be (and still often is) called superline, because it’s made of advanced materials that give it great strength for its size. In fact, the diameter of a modern braid that tests at 15 pounds can have the same diameter as 4-pound-test monofilament line. That means you can use thinner line, which gives you a better feel for your lure in the water and allows for more stealth in quiet water. Braid has no stretch, which also increases sensitivity. It also cuts through weeds easily, making it a good choice for fishing in vegetation. Braid also doesn’t have memory, so line twist isn’t an issue like it can be with fluorocarbon and monofilament.

That said, braid isn’t translucent, so in most cases you’ll need to tie a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader to the end of braid, so you don’t spook line-shy fish. That may require learning some new knots, because braid can cut through fluoro and mono if not joined properly. Also, the lack of stretch means braid won’t absorb violent or abrupt hits or snags, though a long leader and slow-action rod will help there, and on spinning tackle, braid can be tough on wet fingers when casting (though a bandage or tape will alleviate that). But many anglers feel braid’s benefits outweigh these disadvantages and use nothing but braid for all their fishing.

Monofilament

Trilene Big Game monofilament fishing line is shock-resistant and strong, even at the knot. Berkley

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Mono line has been around for a very long time, and for good reason: It’s easy to cast. It has some stretch, so when a fish lunges or jumps, you stand a better chance of keeping that fish hooked. Mono isn’t easy for fish to see underwater, so in many cases you can tie a hook or lure right to the line, which is easy because the material is soft and easy to handle.

Mono does have some memory and will twist, so you need to spool it carefully. It’s also thicker than braid of the same test strength, and fluorocarbon is tougher and has a better disappearing act. But mono is also more affordable than braid and fluorocarbon, and it does many things well. That’s why monofilament has been and is the go-to line for millions of anglers.