Fishing Line Guide: Braid vs Fluoro vs Mono
In this post we are going in depth into fishing line. We will cover the 3 types, their strengths, weaknesses, and when should you be using them. There are a lot of misconceptions and things people don’t fully understand about fishing line. Fishing line is the core of fishing. You rely on it to get fish in the boat so it’s important understand the differences and when you should be using each.
Best Fishing Line
- Best Braid: Power Pro Maxcuatro
- Best Fluorocarbon: Sunline Assassin
- Best Monofilament: Maxima Ultragreen
- Best Finesse Leader: Sunline Sniper
Types of Fishing Line
There are three primary types of fishing line: monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Important Factors of Fishing Line
- Strength – The strength of fishing line is measured by how much pressure it can withstand before breaking. This number is refer to as pound test.
- Stretch – The amount of stretch a line has will affect how much shock it can absorb as well as line sensitivity. Line sensitivity is an angler’s ability to “feel” what is happening at the end of the line.
- Low stretch = more sensitive
- High stretch = less sensitive
- Visibility – Some fishing lines are more visible than others. Depending on water clarity or a bass mood your line visibility may play a roll in your success.
- Bouncy – How buoyant your line is can affect the depth and rate of fall of a bait.
There is a give and take when choosing your line. For example stronger line will have a thicker diameter which is more visible and intrusive to fish. So you give up strength for less visible line or sacrifice visibility for stronger line. These are the types of decisions you will face when choosing line as you gain more experience.
|Strength by diameter||High||Medium||Low|
Monofilament fishing line is probably the line you are most familiar with. It has been around forever and likely what you used growing up.
I avoid mono as a main line completely. It has too much stretch and memory. When you get long of lengths of mono like you would with a mainline is just too absorbing. You lose almost all feeling and makes it difficult getting a solid hook set.
Mono has the most stretch of the three line types. Stretch can be a positive or a negative depending on the style of fishing. The advantages of stretch is it can act as a shock absorber for big bass and help reduce the risk of bending out hooks and losing a fish. This is especially true on treble hook baits. On the other hand too much stretch in line can be a negative for baits with a single hook like jigs because it makes it more difficult to set the hook. Stretch also reduces sensitivity. This makes it harder to feel structure with bottom contact baits and detecting bites.
Monofilament floats which makes it a good choice for top water lures as well as baits you don’t want going too deep.
The biggest weakness for mono is it’s memory. Memory in fishing line basically means the line will develop kinks and big curls overtime. Once these issues develop the line will remember them and they will keep coming back.
With the invention of fluorocarbon and braided fishing line many anglers have moved completely away from mono. I still believe that mono has its place in fishing but mostly as a leader. I like using mono as a leader when fishing baits with treble hooks for its shock absorption. With a leader you get the benefit of stretch without going overboard like you would with it as a mainline. Remember 40 feet of line will stretch much more than 10 feet. This is also true with sensitivity, shorter lengths of mono will be more sensitive than longer lengths. My go to monofilament line is Maxima Ultragreen. It’s consistent and has a good neutral color that blends very well in the water. It is also incredible strong and is a great choice for a monofilament line.
Fluorocarbon is best known for being almost completely invisible in the water. For the most part that is true, pure fluorocarbon is very clear. Where you need to be careful is watching out for products that are labeled fluoro but are really something else with a fluorocarbon coated exterior.
So in clear water situations a lot of anglers tend to go with fluorocarbon line. Fluoro is great for those situations but their are downsides.
Tying knots with fluoro line can be tricky, especially with the harder fluoros. Fluorocarbon line can actually burn and weaken itself when tightening down knots. That is why you might notice other anglers wetting their knots while trying them.
It has a lot less stretch than monofilament so you can get a good hookset into your fish. It also makes it much more sensitive so you get a much better feel of what is happening on the bottom. It also sinks so it is best suited for baits that you want to get down deep. Crankbaits for example will be able to dive a foot or two deeper with fluoro verses braid or mono.
Fluorocarbon is another line that I mainly use as a leader. The only times I use fluoro as a main line is when I am fishing crankbaits or jerkbaits on a straight retrieve. Straight fluoro allows you to get crankbaits down deep fast, cast far, and gives a consistent feel. My go to fluoro is Sunline Assassin. Assassin is great because it resists cuts, casts super far, and best of all it lasts. A lot of other fluorocarbon lines tend to wear out quickly.
Another fluoro line I like to use is Sunline Sniper, it’s a incredibly strong and is perfect for finesse fishing. The third fluoro I use is FC100, also made by Sunline. It is a crossover fluoro and mono line that has the best of both worlds when used as a leader. It stretches, absorbs shock, and resists burns like mono while being super clear like fluoro. It is an amazing leader line for anything reactive. The only downside is it starts at 16lb so it will be mostly used for larger baits like swimbaits.
I use braided line on almost all of my rods as a main line and pair it with either a mono or fluoro leader. This give me the best of both worlds. I get the sensitivity, casting distance, longevity, and extra spool line while still being able to get the presentation and low visibility I am looking for with my leader.
Braided line has the smallest diameter by strength. This means you can fit more line on your spool than the equivalently mono or fluoro lines. Being thinner also helps with casting distance. Another great benefit of braid is it last much longer than mono or fluoro and doesn’t need to be replaced as often. This makes it’s high upfront cost much more manageable as it will save money in the long run.
Braided line has basically no stretch so it has a ton of sensitivity. This also makes braid ideal when fishing in heavy cover and you need to muscle the fish out. On the other hand you need to be careful with no stretch because you can bend out thinner hooks if you set the hook too hard.
Braid, unlike mono and fluoro has no memory. This makes it ideal for backing on spinning reels. Spinning reels tend to suffer from bad line twists from line developing memory over time.
One more important thing to note about braid is it floats. This can affect the depths of baits.
I mostly use Power Pro Maxcuatro for braid. If you are on a budget Power Pro Spectra is another great option. Maxcuatro is 25% thinner than Spectra while being just as strong. The thinner line allows you to get down deeper, has less resistance in the water, and it’s easier to tie knots on. If you can afford it Maxcuatro is a great upgrade.
For a new angler you should start with monofilament line. It’s inexpensive and will get the job done. Hold off on braid and fluorocarbon lines until you know you enjoy fishing and are willing to spend the extra money. Start with 8lb for spinning reels or 12 lb if you have a baitcaster.
Fluorocarbon vs Monofilament
The main argument between fluorocarbon vs monofilament lines is that fluoro is better because it is clearer. Although it is clearer than mono that doesn’t necessarily make it better for all applications. Bass don’t have super power eye sight, they are often not scarred off by seeing line. Now there are situations where you may have 40 feet of water visibility and then yes, fluorocarbon may be the best choice. The biggest take away from this is different situations call for different solutions and there isn’t a one size fits all answer. Fluorocarbon and monofilament both have their applications.
I tend to not worry so much about the viability factor and start with mono as my leader unless I am trying to get extra depth or I think visibility is hurting me.
Mono does everything you need it to do but its not clear. Most of the time it doesn’t matter but it can if you are fishing super clear water. The downside to mono is it’s memory. Every time mono stretches it will start developing kinks.
Like I said above I almost exclusively use braid to leader for my rods. This setup gives you almost all the benefits of braid while still being able to use the advantages of mono or fluoro. But the main reason I use leaders is it saves money.
mono knots hold up better, the shock absorption is better, it resist breakage much better on a short line. Mono as a whole stretches much more than fluoro. So for a leader when you only have a 5-10 feet of leader line, mono can absorb the shock a a big bass much better than the same length of fluoro.
Unless there is a specific characteristic I am looking for in my leader I generally use Sunline Sniper when fishing light line under 6lb. For 6-15lb, my most used strengths I go with Maxima Ultragreen. For heavier baits needing 16lb+ I use Sunline FC100.
Tying lines together can be challenging, especially when the two lines are different sizes. For beginners I recommend using a modified blood knot for connecting leader lines. It is not the strongest knot for connecting two lines together but it is much easier to tie than it’s stronger counterparts. A knot that is not tied correctly is a weak knot. So until you can consistently and correctly tie a knot it is better to avoid them. A blood knot is great because it is very consistent, fast to tie, and you can visually see when it is tied correctly or incorrectly. This takes away the worry of your knot failing when you set the hook on a big fish.
Storing Fishing Line
After reading through this guide or after fishing for awhile you will relies that you need a handful of different lines. Plano makes line spool boxes that are perfect for storing line. They are inexpensive and can keep up to 6 spools protected and organized. They also make it much easier to spool a reel without needing someone else’s help.
Fishing Line Choice by Application
Fishing Technique Line Type Recommended Line
Finesse in crystal clear water 10lb braid to 5-8lb fluoro Maxcuatro & Sunline Sniper
Finesse in clean water 10lb braid to 6-10lb mono Maxcuatro & Maxima Ultragreen
Finesse Jig 30lb braid to 10-15lb mono or 12-15lb fluoro Maxcuatro & Sunline Assassin
Texas Rig 40lb braid to 12-17lb mono Maxcuatro & Maxima Ultragreen
Jig Fishing 50lb braid to 15-20lb mono Maxcuatro & Maxima Ultragreen
Punching 65lb braid Maxcuatro
Frogging 65lb braid Maxcuatro
Shaky Head 30lb braid to 10lb mono Maxcuatro & Maxima Ultragreen
Swimbait 80lb braid to 30lb mono Maxcuatro & Maxima Ultragreen
Crankbait (option 1) 12lb fluoro Sunline Assassin
Crankbait (option 2) 20lb braid to 12lb mono Maxcuatro & Maxima Ultragreen
Jerkbait (option 1) 20lb braid to 10lb mono Maxcuatro & Maxima Ultragreen
Jerkbait (option 2) 12lb fluoro Sunline Assassin
Final Thoughts & Wrap up
I primarily use braid to leader on most of my rods. I use braid for my main line for a couple of reasons, it is strong, lasts a really long time, is incredibly sensitive, and it casts like a dream. The downside is its visibility and fish can see it. That is where the leader comes in.
I tend to favor mono over fluoro for a leader and don’t think it is hurting my catching. Mono leaders offer forgiveness by it’s shock absorbing stretch. It is also clear enough not to matter in most situations.
Return to beginner bass fishing guide.