For fishing lines, three main offerings are available to anglers. They include monofilament, also referred to as nylon, braided line, and fluorocarbon.
These three major fishing line types have different characteristics suitable for specific fishing techniques, fishing styles, and environments. The properties vary between the line types, including buoyancy, strength, stretch, durability, cost, and more.
The choices available to modern anglers were not always there. Many advances have been made over the years as fishing line has continued to improve. Capt. Blair Wiggins of Blair Wiggins Outdoors TV and Bass Fishing Hall of Famer, Bassmaster Classic Champion, and fishing legend Denny Brauer have lived through the advances and seen their fishing successes improve along better fishing lines.
There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing the right line for your needs, but the following overview will help you decide between monofilament, fluorocarbon and braid.
Bass Fishing Legend Denny Brauer
Monofilament lines, also called mono, are a fishing line category that has been around for decades and has helped land plenty of fish since it was first developed in the 1930s. It has been around for so long because it is relatively easy to manufacture compared to other products and has a comparatively low cost.
One plus for monofilament is the lower cost and widespread availability, but it also comes with a tradeoff, as it is generally not as durable. There is also more stretch in monofilament lines than there is with fluorocarbon and braid.
“The biggest problem with monofilament is the amount of stretch,” says Brauer. “I can remember fishing it in tournaments and having trouble driving the hook in, even with a 25 lb test and a heavy rod. Hooks have also improved, of course, but I can recall two Bassmaster Classics that I would have won if I was able to hook the fish that bit. There was too much stretch in mono, and you couldn’t get them around the dock pilings because the line was like a rubber band.”
Monofilament lines float and can be helpful when fishing-specific lures, but the buoyancy of the line can also be detrimental to others.
“With monofilament line, it’s always a struggle to get a crankbait down to the desired depth,” says Brauer. “The fact that it floats can be an asset for topwater baits, but it hurts you for crankbaits and any baits you fish below the surface.”
Captain Blair Wiggins, Host of Blair Wiggins Outdoors
In addition to the stretch and buoyancy factors, monofilament line is not nearly as abrasion resistant as fluorocarbon. Capt. Blair Wiggins was an early adopter of fluorocarbon leader material and has used it for over two decades.
When targeting grouper, he uses a 20-foot leader of fluorocarbon when fishing around pilings, docks, and rocks
“The grouper will dive down into that stuff and when you get them in, you can see some scuffs on your line telling you just how far they pulled you into that sharp stuff,” says Wiggins. “But, the difference is you land those fish with fluorocarbon. Break-offs were much more common when using monofilament leaders.”
Braided Fishing Lines
The popularity of braided lines has exploded in the past two decades and they have become a major part of some angler’s arsenals. They are braided with 4-, 8- or even 16 strands of material, making them extremely strong with a tiny diameter. These lines also have zero stretch, making for better hooksets and increasing your odds of landing fish.
Braided lines are a good choice for fishing thick vegetation, relying on braided lines’ sheer strength to battle giant freshwater fish and for targeting many saltwater species. However, there are some drawbacks, namely the visibility of the braided line under the surface and the cost. The line’s visible appearance can be an issue for pressured fish and when fishing clear water, so many anglers often choose to use a braided mainline with a clear fluorocarbon leader. These superlines are also generally more expensive than other lines available, but they make up for it with exceptional durability. In some cases, especially when fishing a soft-mouthed fish, the no-stretch feature of braided lines can be a drawback.
The Case for Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
This line type has many benefits and has continued to grow in popularity as more anglers learn the many benefits of using it. One of the most significant advantages of fluorocarbon is the near invisibility under the water’s surface. The refractive index of fluorocarbon is lower than mono and much closer to the refractive index of water, which makes fluoro line significantly less visible underwater.
Capt. Wiggins believes the transparent properties of fluorocarbon are essential for fishing pressured redfish, especially in the current times with a focus on catch and release.
“In the old days, we kept every redfish, but now a strong conservation focus has led to much more catch and release,” he says. “Often, you are fishing for fish that have been caught before and they’re smarter. You need a line they can’t see to fool them.”
Brauer now resides in Del Rio, Texas, but switched to fluorocarbon lines while still living in Missouri after witnessing other anglers using the line to win tournaments.
“I started using fluorocarbon because I was tired of getting my butt kicked and knew those guys were getting more bites because of how clear the line was,” recalls Brauer. “That was the only reason I started using it, but then I learned all of the other benefits. It gave me better hooksets because it had less stretch than monofilament and it was also more durable and sensitive at the same time. It also casts so much better. Once I learned all of that, I knew there was no way I was ever going back.”
While not having the same zero stretch properties as braided lines, fluorocarbon lines have much less stretch than a monofilament line of the same size. Fluorocarbon is also more durable and withstands the hot and cold elements much better and, as a result, lasts longer.
In many cases, fluorocarbon lines are more expensive than monofilament, but they make up for it with increased durability and a better overall fishing experience.
“Fluorocarbon line is more expensive than monofilament, but I’d argue that it’s more a conservative purchase in the long run because it lasts longer,” says Brauer. “In the old days, I would put a new monofilament line on every night during a tournament because it didn’t hold up. Now, I can fish every day for a month and not re-spool my fluorocarbon.”
The Origins and Fluorocarbon and Benefits of Seaguar
Fluorocarbon is made from Hydrogen, Carbon, and Fluoride, which creates the molecule known as PVDF. Kureha, the parent company of Seaguar, created the product and introduced the first fluorocarbon fishing line in 1971.
To this day, Seaguar is the only company that makes its own fluorocarbon resins and controls the manufacturing process from beginning to end. This allows them to develop different resins to create lines with unique properties for various fishing applications.
Seaguar produces fluorocarbon mainlines and leaders with this in mind and has specialty products designed explicitly for abrasion resistance, limpness, castability, and overall performance. They also make leader-specific fluorocarbon for use in tandem with braided lines designed for specific fishing environments, target species, and performance in sizes from 2 to 400 lb test.