Few things are as important to fishing as choosing the right line. Today there are 3 main types of line that modern anglers can choose from, Monofilament, Fluorocarbon and Braid. These options can be overwhelming at first. However; after learning these basic features and benefits you will be able to choose the right type of fishing line for the type of fishing that you will be doing.
Monofilament (nylon) line is affordable and readily available. If you’re new to fishing and buy a pre-spooled reel it is most likely spooled with monofilament. “Mono” line is a good all-around line but has some drawbacks. It is fairly visible in water, which if your using a slow or no movement lure can potentially cause some missed hits. It also has large diameter to breaking strength rating and larger diameter means more visible. You need to make sure you’re using the proper sized line for your needs and your reel, or else you will end up over filling it or not spooling it with enough line. “Mono” line also stretches which can make it difficult to feel some fish strikes and can cause some issues when setting the hook. Monofilament also floats which can be good or bad depending in the application. Another issue is “line memory” which is caused by the line “remembering” the shape it is stored on the reel. This can cause knotting in the reel and may affect casting distance.
Fluorocarbon fishing line is a relatively recent creation and has some interesting benefits of its own. “fluoro” has a refractive index that is closer to water than monofilament and therefore is slightly more “invisible” in water. This makes Fluorocarbon a great leader material as its virtually invisible to the fish. Fluorocarbon is “low stretch” compared to monofilament and is denser therefore it sinks faster into the water. These traits make it ideal for trolling as the stretch acts like a shock absorber when a fish bites at speed reducing the likelihood of pulled hooks or damage to fish. Also since it sinks so it’s easier to get and keep your lure at the depth you want. One drawback is that some brands are less abrasion resistant than others and certainly less than monofilament. Since fluorocarbon is more abrasion resistant than mono, it is a good choice of line when fishing the bottom such as jigging or bottom bouncing. Also, using fluoro leaders for fish like Kokanee Salmon will help reduce line fray from the fish’s mouth. This type of line also has “line memory” and actually caused me to have my first “birdsnest” on a spinning reel, although that could have been because of brand/price choice…
One trick to reduce “birdsnest” on a spinning reel is to spool the fishing line onto the reel the way it naturally comes of the fishing line spool. Lay the fishing line spool flat on the ground (most manufactures you want the label facing up), as you spool the line onto the reel the loops should be able to lay flat onto the ground when slack line is given. If the loops start to tangle then simply flip the fishing line spool over. Once you have the line spooled on the spinning reel, take the spool of the reel and run the spool under a tap of hot water for 3 minutes. The fishing line memory was set for the size of the fishing line spool; by heating the line up under hot water it resets the line memory to the fishing reel spool. Tad da! No more birdsnests!
Braided lines have been around since the early 1900 as a replacement to horse hair lines. Braided line is very strong and fairly abrasion resistant. Its diameter to breaking strength rating make it so a smaller sized line can be used and still have the desired breaking strength. For example I have some 6lbs weight braid that has the same diameter as 1.5lbmonofilament so it fits easily on my creek rod. Braided line has virtually no stretch and it allows you to “feel” a lot more in the water, it also allows for increased lure movement (especially topwater poppers) as there isn’t any stretch to decrease the movement. As braided line is visible in water (though its diameter is much smaller) it is still recommended that a “leader” be used, especially with slow/no movement lures to decrease potential strikes. Another bonus to braided line is that it has virtually no “line memory” and I have found it increased my casting distance dramatically.
Here is a quick downloadable reference guide for features and benefits for types of fishing line
As always when purchasing something new be sure to do your research and read any instructions that come with your new line as there are knots that are recommended and using the “wrong” knots will cause you nothing but problems. It is important to make sure you purchase your new fishing line from an established retailer and to go with a brand that has a good reputation. No matter what type of line you choose to use, be sure to store your fishing reels out of direct sunlight as UV light can breakdown the integrity of the line.
Sam Van Kampen