Which Line is Best?

by Chris Gorsuch

  Success is often determined by a fine line.

  Just recently, a client looked at the four rods I had set out for them and began to ask me about rod and line choice. Each rod was rigged with a different lure and varied between two and three power rods and of course a variety of line types. I mentioned that I get this question a lot and started to explain the attributes of the line types, why I choose them for specific applications and how changing the type of line can allow anglers to cast further, feel strikes better and help keep fish from unbuttoning during the fight. 

  The words were put into play as they cast and caught bass that day on a variety of lure combinations. At the end of the trip, the client suggested I devote an article to the topic of fishing line, so here we are.

   Walk into any tackle shop today and you will find entire sections dedicated to fishing line. Larger outdoor shops will have aisles of line options or racks specifically set up for each type of fishing line. For many anglers, they can get lost in the sea of choices. Hopefully this short article will help anglers understand the pros and cons.  

  To start, there are three main types of fishing lines: monofilament, fluorocarbon and super lines (such as braids and fusions). They all have specific attributes and once anglers understand the value they add, all three will have a place in most tackle bags. Each type of line has its own place for me. 

Monofilament Fishing Line

  Tried and true, this line has been doing it all for well over 60 years and will continue to. One of its best features is that it stretches, adding a level of shock and forgiveness in a number of situations. 

  If you throw crankbaits, you know how important a moderate slow action rod can help keep the fish from throwing the lure once hooked.  What monofilament offers, is enough stretch to tame a faster action rod without sacrificing longer casts. In a perfect world, we would all have 15-20 rods with the perfect action to match the lures we wish to throw. The stretch factor here, allows anglers to use a rod that may not be the best action for a given application.  

  Monofilament is inexpensive and can be found anywhere. It also offers great knot strength. Another great feature is that monofilament is rather buoyant. This makes it a solid choice for topwater, especially  smaller, lighter plugs that can get pulled underwater with sinking lines. 

  Where monofilament falls short is that it holds a lot of memory and over time (and use) it will start to coil. This will impact casting distance and likely cause other line issues. For this reason, at least from my experience, monofilament needs to be changed more often than the other two fishing lines on this list. 

  My favorite lures for monofilament line are lipped and lipless crankbaits, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and topwater plugs.  I can add shallow running jerkbaits as well, but in some conditions, I prefer fluorocarbon line due to the sink rate. 

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

  Well known as leader material, fluorocarbon line is virtually invisible in water and offers exceptional abrasion resistance. The stuff is down-right incredible in that department. It is also stronger than monofilament in the same diameter. 

  As a main line, fluorocarbon line lasts longer than monofilament. Having far less memory, it does not tend to coil and comes off the spool better. Especially when it comes to baitcasting. For spinning reels, it can be problematic as it wants to jump off the spool. One thing I can share, is that not all fluorocarbon lines are equal in that department.   

  The downside to fluorocarbon line, is the expense. It can be several times the cost of monofilament. Knot strength also comes into play, however wetting the line before cinching the knot tight will take many of these concerns away.

  Fluorocarbon sinks, which depending on your lure choice, can be a pro or a con. 

  My favorite lures on fluorocarbon line are soft jerkbaits (such as Super Flukes, Fitt River Darters), drop shot rigs and wake baits.  I also find that deeper running jerkbaits will reach better depths on sinking line. Clear water lake fishing opens up more lures due to line visibility, far less of a concern on the rivers I fish.  

Super Lines (Braids & Fusions)

  While we can debate all day on whether or not fluorocarbon line stretches, one thing is for certain; super lines do NOT stretch. And depending on the situation, this can be good or bad.  For me, limited stretch adds incredible feel for jigging or feeling lures such as tubes, Ned Rigs, and other bottom bouncing lures. Braided line is second to none in this department. That said, braid is my last choice for most crankbaits. I find that the shock factor of braid causes too many drops during the fight. The smaller the treble hook, the less I like using braided line.  

  Keep in mind, as with the segment on monofilament, the action of the rod can be enhanced by the line used.  When it comes to braided lines, a lighter action rod can be used. Lighter action adds to the sensitivity and yet with braid, the angler can still maintain a solid hook-set. Zero line stretch will make feeling the lure and setting the hook easier, it can be a disadvantage for anglers who have “gorilla or monster” hook sets. While some anglers tie lures and jigs directly to the braid, I prefer to tie a fluorocarbon leader between the jig and the braided main line. 

  Braided line has incredible longevity. While it may fade, it will often last an entire season or more for me. When it does fade, respool it from one reel to another. This puts the sun faded line deep into the new spool allowing the unfaded line time at the top.  Color options make braided line perfect for jigging and line watching, I am a huge fan of line management while fishing on the bottom. It will make you a better angler. 

  Another advantage of super lines is line diameter. It is by far the smallest of the three line types. This makes casting light weights a breeze.  Again, as with any line there differences between line manufactures. I prefer eight-stranded line over four-stranded options, especially for lighter pound-test lines. 

   Disadvantages are expense, as braided lines are two to three times the cost of monofilament line. Since it has a small diameter and it floats, braided line is more susceptible to wind. Knot tying can also be a disadvantage for those who prefer to tie specific knots. You’ll have to learn a couple new ones.

  My favorite lures for braided fishing line are tubes, Neds, swimbaits, swimming jigs or any bottom bouncing lures.  Chatter jigs and blade baits, work extremely well for me on heavier braided line with a fluorocarbon leader. 

 Just a few closing thoughts. Understanding the attributes of each line type is a good first step. Line choice will also come down to personal preference when matching the line to your rods and reels. What feels right to some may not to others. It is worth experimenting until you find the combination that works best for you.  

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