How to Choose Fishing Line: Braid vs Fluoro vs Mono
Fishing line is a vital component of your fishing setup. It acts as the connection between you and the fish, it’s responsible for handling the forces of the fight, as well as the feel of your bait.
There are different types of fishing line available, each with their own unique characteristics that make them well-suited for different situations.
Some lines are designed for strength and durability, while others are designed for sensitivity and finesse. Choosing the right fishing line can make a big difference in your success on the water, so it’s important to understand the different options available and how to use them effectively.
Types of Fishing Line
There are three types of fishing line: monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid. Each line type has distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation. Below we will walk you through the different types, their strengths, weaknesses, and when should you be using them.
Braided line is the strongest line by diameter. It is the most visible and has the least amount of stretch.
Fluorocarbon line is the least visible line. It sinks, has a minimal amount of stretch, and is fairly sensitive.
Monofilament line has the most stretch. It’s buoyant, has the most memory, is mostly invisible.
Key Attributes to Consider When Choosing Line Type
- Strength – The strength of fishing line is measured by how much pressure it can withstand before breaking. This rating 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’s mood, your line visibility may play a roll in your success.
- Buoyancy – 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
There are a lot of misconceptions about monofilament line. Many anglers don’t even consider it when choosing a line nowadays. But mono still has it’s place and there are situations where it’s the best line option.
Mono has the most stretch of the three line types. This aspect of mono is often mischaracterized as a negative but in certain situations having line stretch can be beneficial.
Having a line that stretches is helpful when using thinner hooks and you catch a large bass. The line can absorb sudden bursts of shock and minimize the force on the hook. Without line stretch all the force goes directly on the hook and can bend it out if the hook isn’t strong enough.
This is especially important with the less amount of line you have out or if your drag is set to strong. For these reasons mono can be a good forgiving line for beginners who might not have learned how to properly set their drag or how to fight in a large fish yet.
Another key element of monofilament line is that it floats. This is a huge benefit when using topwater lures as it won’t hurt the lures action. A sinking line can actually weigh down the front of your lure and pull it’s nose down. This can really impact the action and prevent you from working the lure the way it was designed to work.
With diving baits, a floating line can be beneficial if you want to prevent it from diving as deep. For example if you are using a crankbait that typically dives down to 6ft but you want to fish above grass that is growing up to 5ft. You can use mono line and the floating force to pull your bait up slightly, preventing it from diving as deep. This way you can use the lure to fish just above the grass.
When to Choose Monofilament
- When fishing topwater (excluding frogs)
- When you need shock absorption
- When you need you lure to run shallower than it’s standard diving depth
For a more in-depth explanation of all the pros, cons, and when to use it, check out our monofilament line guide.
Fluorocarbon line continues to gain in popularity and for many anglers has become the go-to line for most situations. The key factors for fluoro are that it’s the least visible line option, has minimal stretch, and sinks.
One of the main draws of fluorocarbon line is that it has minimal stretch, much less than mono. Having minimal stretch has two key benefits.
The first is it makes the line more sensitive and allows you to feel what is happening on the end of your line. As your bait drags across cover, moves through the water, or gets bit, it will send vibrations up your line. Over time you will get better at being able to tell whats happening on the end of your line and detecting bites.
The second benefit of minimal stretch is you are able to apply more force to your hook set. This is especially important with lures with thick stout hooks like jigs. Those thicker hooks need more force to be able to penetrate a fish’s mouth.
Another attribute that make fluoro popular is that it’s the least visible line type. This is more important the clearer the water you are fishing in. Some bodies of water are crystal clear with 20+ feet of visibility. In these bodies of water having a nearly invisible line is critical. If your water is dirtier with only a few feet of visibility this isn’t as important.
When to Choose Fluorocarbon
- When fishing clear water
- When you need a strong hook set
- When you need you lure to run deeper
For a more in-depth explanation of all the pros, cons, and when to use it, check out our fluorocarbon line guide.
Braided line is very different from mono and fluoro. Braid is completely visible and has no stretch. The lack of stretch makes it extremely sensitive when the line is taut. Unfortunately when braid is slack it doesn’t transfer as much feel.
The lack of stretch also comes in handy 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.
A key attribute of braided line is it’s the strongest line by diameter, meaning it is thinner than the same lb test mono or fluoro lines. This is beneficial as it allows you add more line on to your spool and thinner line casts further.
Another great thing about braid is it has no memory. This is helpful in preventing line twists and coiling that you often see with mono or fluoro line that has been spooled for while.
When to Choose Braid
- When fishing a topwater frog
- When fishing heavy vegetation
- As a mainline when using a mono or fluoro leader
For a more in-depth explanation of all the pros, cons, and when to use it, check out our braided line guide.
What is a Leader Line
A leader line is a short mono or fluoro line tied on to a braided mainline. Using a leader gives you the benefit of braid while also keeping the line near your lure nearly invisible. It also gives you some slight shock absorption which braid lacks.
Using leaders is especially great for those who don’t have multiple rods. You can load up your reel with braid and swap out your leader to optimize for the lure or technique you are using. This will save you a lot of money over time as you don’t have to replace your entire spool of line.
The downside to leader lines is they add a point of failure to your setup (the connecting knot). It’s important to practice tying your connection knot to ensure it’s strong. Additionally you need to regularly check your connection knot while fishing to verify it’s holding up and not damaged.
For a full breakdown, choosing length, and line type, check out our leader line guide.
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.
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.