by Marc Rogers
Choosing Fishing Line
When choosing fishing line anglers are bombarded with enormous amounts of information from manufacturers. Line packaging lists many features and specifications of each product. The information can be overwhelming to anglers and it seems there are so many different lines available, finding an all-purpose line is nearly impossible. Fishing lines made for specific purposes are here to stay.
The four major categories of line available are monofilament, co-polymer, braid and fluorocarbon. All four have advantages and disadvantages for use by anglers. With these different qualities comes a variety of prices from inexpensive to very expensive.
Monofilament lines have been available for several decades. It was one of the first lines made of nylon. As the name implies, it is a single strand of nylon material extruded into a thin line for fishing applications. Monofilament line is buoyant making it a good choice for topwater applications. The line will float on the water and reduce the downward pull on the lure. This reduction allows topwater lures to ride higher on the surface.
Monofilament line has more stretch than most fishing lines available today. Once monofilament line gets wet, it begins absorbing water, further adding to its stretch. There are times when line stretch can benefit an angler but modern rods, now built for specific applications, have reduced the need for lines with stretch. Crankbait anglers benefit from line stretch allowing the fish to get a better hold on the lure before anglers set the hook. However, modern crankbait specific rods have flexible tips and compensate for the lack of line stretch. In addition, the floating characteristics of monofilament reduced the depths anglers could reach with crankbaits.
Line memory is another reason anglers shy away from monofilament lines. Once spooled onto a reel it will retain the tight coils of the reel spool, thus reducing the casting distance. Casting distance is not the only drawback to using monofilament. When setting the hook, the line has to be fully stretched, removing the coils, before pressure is applied at the business end of the line. In addition, when monofilament is used on spinning reels, anglers risk loops being added to their reel spool, which can cause terrible tangles and knots on the next cast.
Co-polymer lines are made of two or more strands of nylon monomers combined during the manufacturing process. By adding more than one material, line manufacturers enhance the benefits a line offers to anglers.
Co-polymer lines are more abrasion resistant and stretch less than monofilament. They are also less buoyant and generally are smaller in diameter. Co-polymer line is still effective for use with topwater lures but being less buoyant allows crankbaits anglers to reach depths not available to anglers using monofilament line.
One of the greatest benefits of co-polymer line over monofilament is the added abrasion resistance. For bottom bouncing lures, rocks and submerged cover will weaken line as it rubs and nicks the line. This blend of nylon materials have made affordable lines that hold up better than monofilament. Co-polymer lines, which are very resistant to abrasion, do have more line memory than those less resistant. They are stiffer and this characteristic is more evident when used in cold temperatures.
Braided lines offer great line strength in a small diameter. Many manufactures have braided lines that are the diameter of 10-pound test monofilament but offer strength equal to 50-pound test or greater. Braided lines are ideal for fishing lures in heavy cover because of their added strength and abrasion resistance.
Braided lines can cut through vegetation instead of it wrapping around the line as it often does on monofilament and co-polymer. Anglers in Florida, where vegetation is heavy above and below the water surface, many time prefer braided line. Braided line if very abrasion resistant, almost zero stretch and has little memory. All great characteristics for a line used for flipping and pitching into heavy cover.
Due to the abrasion resistance of braided line, many anglers use braid for main line when Carolina Rigging soft plastic lures. With a leader of monofilament or co-polymer, if the lure hangs in cover, the leader will break prior to the main line breaking, saving sinker, beads and swivel.
Braided line is harder on equipment. Many line guides will wear more rapidly when using braided line. However, modern line guides are manufactured with braided line in mind and hold up well to its added wear. In addition, braided line will spool more loosely on a reel. This can create a learning curve for anglers using it for the first time on level wind reels and it does not perform as well on spinning reels.
Fluorocarbon line began it rises in popularity in the early 21st century. One of the best selling points of fluorocarbon line was its “near invisible” characteristic. In addition, fluorocarbon line exhibits abrasion resistance, and low memory.
Fluorocarbon line offers benefits for crankbait anglers. The line sinks allowing crankbaits to reach maximum depths and the line diameter of fluorocarbon is smaller than both monofilament and co-polymer lines. For shaky head and drop-shot presentations, fluorocarbon line offers greater sensitivity than both monofilament and co-polymer line. When presenting lures in deep water the lack of stretch and added sensitivity fluorocarbon line offers is unmatched.
When choosing a line it is best to do so with lure offering in mind. Lighter – smaller diameter – lines will allow better lure action while heavier – larger diameter – lines reduce lure action. Limp line will also allow for better lure action. Cover will damage less abrasion resistant line, especially close to where the line ties to the lure or hook. Monofilament floats and is good for topwater application while fluorocarbon line sinks making it ideal for crankbaits and deep-water presentations.
Regardless of the line anglers choose, each is a compromise if used for every situation. If I were going to use just one type of line for every situation, my choice would be a co-polymer line. However, I have different rod/reels equipped with all of the four major categories to be prepared for each lure presentation encountered.
Note: When line is stored on a reel or on the manufacturers spool, ultraviolet light (sunlight) and heat breakdown most types of fishing line. It is best to store fishing line in a dark, room temperature area.