One of the most important parts of fishing is fishing line choice. If you’re a spin fisher, you typically only worry about one type of line at a time. If you’re a fly fisher, however, you have multiple types of lines in your rig, including leader, tippet, fly line, and backing line. Both types of fishing styles rely on the fishing line– it’s the only thing connecting you to the fish.
But as with all elements of fishing, you have choices to make. When it comes to fishing line types, we typically talk about braided line, monofilament line, and fluorocarbon line. Today, we’re going to look in depth at monofilament line and fluorocarbon line. Both types of line are useful and good; however, there are some situations that call for one type of line over the other. We’ll be talking about what those are, and why each type of line has the strengths and weaknesses that it does.
What Is Monofilament Fishing Line?
Monofilament fishing line is a single strand of material, usually nylon, that is used to connect the fishing reel to the fishing rod and to the hook or lure. It is a type of fishing line that has been popular among anglers for many years; it was first introduced in the 1930s and quickly became the most popular type of fishing line due to its strength, flexibility, and affordability.
Some of the most popular brands of monofilament fishing line include Berkley, Stren, and KastKing. These companies offer a wide variety of monofilament lines with different strengths, diameters, and colors to suit the needs of different types of anglers and fishing environments.
What Is Fluorocarbon Fishing Line?
Fluorocarbon fishing line was first introduced in the 1960s. It is made by a process called fluorination, which involves adding a compound containing the element fluorine to the nylon used to make the line. The resulting line is nearly invisible underwater, making it a popular choice among fly fishers who pursue fish with good vision. Fluorocarbon is also denser than traditional monofilament line, which makes it sink faster and allows it to be used effectively in deep water.
Fluorocarbon is more expensive than traditional monofilament line because it is more difficult to manufacture. It is made primarily in Japan, which also contributes to its higher cost.
Monofilament Vs Fluorocarbon Line: Key Features
Here are some of the key features that make monofilament and fluorocarbon lines different from each other.
|Characteristic||Monofilament Line||Fluorocarbon Line|
|Density||Suspends or floats; will not sink without added weight||Denser than water; sinks and reduces slack in the line|
|Water Absorption||Absorbs water, which creates a flexible line||Does not absorb water; line remains stiff|
|Strength||Dynamic strength; good at shock absorption||Line maintains strength due to physical resistance to stress|
|Abrasion Resistance||Limited abrasion resistance||Very abrasion resistant; good for fishing in rocky water or around obstacles|
|Elasticity||Elastic and flexible||Limited elasticity; very sensitive|
|Environmental Resistance||Breaks down with UV exposure||UV-resistant|
|Visibility Above Water||Comes in lots of colors and is easy to see and manage||Difficult to see; need to carefully monitor for knots and snags|
|Visibility Underwater||Can be seen by fish||Virtually invisible underwater|
|Ease of Management||Has a strong line memory, meaning that kinks and curls are common; pliable and easy to cast||Stiff, which can be tricky to work with; does not have strong line memory, making kinking and curling uncommon|
|Versatility||Comes in many test strengths and diameters for virtually any need||Selection may be more limited; fewer options carried by many retailers|
Advantages of Monofilament Fishing Line
Monofilament line’s popularity comes from its many advantages. Here are just a few of the reasons anglers love monofilament line.
- Monofilament line is less expensive than fluorocarbon line, making it more accessible to a wider range of anglers.
- Monofilament line has stretch, making it less likely to snap at forces near the line strength.
- Monofilament line is easier to see than fluorocarbon line, making it easier to spot twists, knots, or other issues before they become major problems.
- Monofilament line is easier to knot than fluorocarbon line.
- Monofilament line is more forgiving than fluorocarbon line and is easier to handle.
- Monofilament line performs better in cold weather, maintaining its strength.
- Monofilament line can be more suitable for some fishing techniques, such as trolling or live-bait fishing.
- Monofilament line is more pliable and easier to handle than fluorocarbon line, making it easier to cast.
- Monofilament line is available in a wide range of colors and strengths, making it great for different types of fishing and water conditions.
Disadvantages of Monofilament Line
However, monofilament line isn’t perfect for all situations. Here are some of the challenges of using monofilament line.
- Monofilament line is less abrasion resistant than fluorocarbon line, making it less suitable for fishing in heavy cover, rocky water, or around structures.
- Monofilament line is easier to see underwater than fluorocarbon line, so it is less suitable for clear water or visually oriented fish.
- Monofilament line is stretchier than fluorocarbon line, which can affect casting and fly presentation.
- Monofilament line is less sensitive than fluorocarbon line, which can make it harder to detect light bites.
- Monofilament line is more susceptible to environmental degradation than fluorocarbon line, and is affected by UV rays and chemical degradation.
- Monofilament line absorbs water, which can affect its strength and performance over time.
- Monofilament line is prone to memory issues, which can make it harder to handle and cast.
- Monofilament line is less suitable for deep-water fishing or applications where fast sinking is needed unless you add extra weight.
Advantages of Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Fluorocarbon line has many advantages that make it popular with many anglers.
- Fluorocarbon line is almost invisible underwater, making it ideal for clear water or spooky, wary fish.
- Fluorocarbon line is denser than monofilament, which allows it to sink faster and be used effectively in deep water.
- Fluorocarbon line has high abrasion resistance, making it suitable for fishing in heavy cover or around structures.
- Fluorocarbon line has low stretch properties, which allows for better casting and more accurate presentations of the bait or fly.
- Fluorocarbon line has high strength and sensitivity, allowing anglers to detect even the lightest bites.
- Fluorocarbon line has low memory properties. This means it is less likely to coil or kink, making it easier to handle and cast.
- Fluorocarbon line resists UV rays and chemical degradation, making it longer lasting than other types of fishing line.
- Fluorocarbon line has high knot strength; knots hold more easily.
- Fluorocarbon line can be used for various fishing techniques, such as tenkara, Euro nymphing, and more.
Disadvantages of Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Some of fluorocarbon line’s strengths can actually be weaknesses, depending on the situation. Here are a few of the disadvantages to using fluorocarbon fishing line.
- Fluorocarbon line is more expensive than traditional monofilament line, making it less accessible to some anglers.
- Fluorocarbon line is stiffer and less pliable than monofilament, making it easier to snap the line, or pull the hook out of a fish’s mouth.
- Fluorocarbon line is usually less visible than monofilament, making it harder to detect line twists or other issues. This can be a real problem with underwater snags.
- Fluorocarbon line is more prone to memory issues in cold temperatures.
- Fluorocarbon line is more fragile in cold weather, making it more susceptible to breaking when compared to monofilament.
- Fluorocarbon line is less forgiving than monofilament, which can be a disadvantage for anglers who are not experienced with fluorocarbon line.
What Fishing Line To Choose?
Ultimately, the best fishing line to choose is the one that works for your specific needs. Here are some of the use cases for each type of fishing line.
Best Uses For Monofilament Line
Because monofilament line is so cheap, it is a popular choice for backing. Anglers who like the advantages that fluorocarbon provides but want to save some money can use monofilament as their backing and then use fluorocarbon further down the line.
If you’re fishing in low-visibility areas or turbulent water, monofilament comes in many different colors and is easier to see than fluorocarbon lines are.
Because monofilament line suspends in the water, it is great for presenting topwater bait.
Monofilament makes a great “shock leader” for stiffer line, and can help prevent that line from breaking during a hard fight.
Best Uses For Fluorocarbon Line
If you’re fishing in clear waters for visually acute fish like trout, fluorocarbon is a great choice because it is virtually invisible in the water.
Fluorocarbon’s low stretch makes it good for tight line nymphing, as it allows anglers to detect light bites and maintain a steady tension on the line.
Fluorocarbon makes excellent leader and tippet material for fly fishing.
Fluorocarbon sinks, so it’s useful for fly fishing nymphs, emergers, and streamers.
Fluorocarbon is very sensitive, so gentle bites are more easily detected with this type of line.
Ultimately, it is likely that you will want both monofilament and fluorocarbon lines in your tackle box. Some scenarios clearly call for one type of line; others are more flexible, or may even call for a splice of the two.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about