Modern fishing lines 101: Monofilament and fluorocarbon

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series about fishing line.

With many types of fishing line available, filling a reel is a lot more complicated than it used to be. Maybe you’re new to fishing, or perhaps you’re a fishing veteran who wants to try something new. Here’s what you need to know about nylon monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing lines. Braided lines will get their own treatment later.

The big three

Fishing lines are divided into three major types: nylon monofilament, fluorocarbon monofilament, and braids. Nylon monofilament is commonly shortened to “mono” in everyday speech; fluorocarbon monofilament is often shortened to “fluorocarbon” or “fluoro”, and braided lines are called all sorts of things, from Spiderwire to super-line.

Nylon monofilament is the least-expensive option. You can expect to pay between $2 and $10 for a spool, depending on the brand. Fluorocarbon lines can cost $10 and up but are generally less expensive than top-end braids.

Mono vs. fluoro

If you were to unspool a little of each line, nylon monofilament and fluorocarbon, the first thing you would notice is that the fluorocarbon line is clearer than mono; fluorocarbon was developed in the 1970s as a leader material. Clarity was the point; fishermen think it’s more difficult to see.

Unlike monofilament, which begins to stretch the moment a load is applied, fluorocarbon stretches only after a specific load is reached, which makes it more sensitive than mono; the angler is more aware of what is happening to the bait. Fluorocarbon’s hardness also makes it more reactive than mono; adjustments to the bait made by the angler are immediate and more forceful.

Nylon monofilament lines absorb a small amount of water. Despite this characteristic, they generally float under normal circumstances. By contrast, fluorocarbon lines sink. Neither characteristic is innately good or bad, of course, but they make each line best suited for certain types of fishing.

Whether a line sinks or floats is important. A sinking line gives the fisherman more control over depth, and since there is no bow in the line, it allows a direct connection to the fish.

Sometimes, fishermen may not want their line to sink. Because it floats, Nylon monofilament is great for topwater fishing. Many guides swear by mono when fishing for redfish. Some anglers use mono when fishing crankbaits as well.

An unintended benefit of the stretchiness of monofilament is that it slows an angler’s hookset, which may assist those prone to jerking the lure out of the mouth of fish. The stretch slows the action enough to give a trigger-happy angler a margin of error when setting the hook.

Like a pro

“Like to have your cake and eat it, too?” Use a common trick employed by walleye fishermen. Tie a monofilament leader on the end of your fluorocarbon line. The redfish won’t know what hit them.

Next up: Braided lines

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Will Martin
About Will Martin 28 Articles
Will Martin is an adventure writer based in New Orleans, LA. He pens fiction and nonfiction stories at willmartin.info, and is a staff writer at Louisiana Sportsman. He can be reached at willm@lasmag.com.

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